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Castle in the Sky (1986)

Sheeta and Pazu meet each other on their journey to the "Castle in the Sky".

Sheeta and Pazu meet each other on their journey to the “Castle in the Sky”.

It was my first or second semester of my freshman year of college when I first saw this film. Sadly, I was not paying much attention, as only my roommate and our friend were watching. After watching it a second time, I wanted to go back in time and smack my young self.

Re-released over a decade after its original release in Japan in 1986, the English version stars Anna Paquin and James Van Der Beek as Sheeta and Pazu. The film starts as Sheeta falls from a ship in the sky and is caught by Pazu. It is clear that others are after Sheeta for the gem necklace she has on (which is the reason she lives). At first she is chased after an old woman named Dola (wonderfully voiced by Cloris Leachman). She is accompanied by her countless number of devoted (but not at all wise) sons and her husband (who I feel may have been the inspiration for the look of Doctor Robotnik for the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series). Later, Sheeta is chased after by the army led by Muska (Mark Hamill, proving how great a voice actor he is by giving us shades of his voice for the animated Joker).

The movie proves that some stories cannot be made in live action (for more proof, see Spirited Away). It is filled with action and adventure that no filmmaker, no matter how rich, could do right with special effects. It also could not be done more beautifully. Made by Japan’s legendary Hayao Miyazaki, the film reminds us that animation of any kind can be entertaining with out 3D glasses. It is also, I feel, underrated for its humor (“There’s nothing worse than having your pigtails shot off!”)

Parents, this film has some action violence, but it is really nothing at all. This is great entertainment for any child of any age, and any adult for that matter. One of the best anime films. One of the best adventure films. One of the best animated films. Make sure you family visits the Castle in the Sky.

Overall: Five Stars *****

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