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Laputa: Castle in the Sky [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Japanese PCM 2.0 Stereo, English PCM 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Classification: PG
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 9, 2011
  • RRP: £24.99

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

For Westerners, the best way to describe writer/director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away; Princess Mononoke) and Studio Ghibli is to say they are the Walt Disney of the East. Some might even say that Miyazaki is a greater animator than Disney, crafting fantastical stories that are magically animated and with powerful stories appealing to children and adults alike.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky, first released in 1986 before being given an English dub in 2003 with a star-studded cast featuring Mark Hamil (Muska), James van Der Beek (Pozu) and Anna Paquin (Sheeta) for international release is a typically ecologically inclined, aerially set fantasy that is cute, energetic, and wholly enjoyable.

Sheeta is a young girl with a mysterious crystal pendant that has been handed down to her from her mother before she died. But this has put her in danger. Being chased from an airship by pirates and the military, Sheeta ends up falling from the sky where the young Pozu sees her slowly drifting down, pendant aglow. He saves her and takes her home, but she has no memory of what has happened to her. Their investigation into the matter soon takes them on a fantastical journey that involves a mythical land in the sky named Laputa, a place that Pozu’s father once photographed, but everyone believed was only myth. Airships, pirates, magical spells, robots, and dangerous journeys lead the two youngsters to places they never imagined as their friendship grows.

Castle in the Sky is a beautifully animated, marvelous story that is perfect for the entire family.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Studio Ghibli has consistently had the best looking catalogue hand-drawn animated releases on Blu-ray outside of Disney and Castle in the Sky continues the trend. It looks beautiful in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p transfer from Optimum. It’s clean, has strong details and rich colors. The line art is sharp and not much mars the presentation outside of some occasional softness.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

It’s been a while since I’ve come across a multichannel PCM mix on a Blu-ray like the English 5.1 mix on this release. Normally, I go for the original language track for any release, but the English track sounds so much better than the PCM 2.0 Japanese mix on here that, given the star-studded voice cast of English players, I’d say don’t feel too guilty if you go for that one instead. The Japanese track sounds dull and cluttered with a narrow soundstage and unclear dialogue. The 5.1 English mix opens things up vastly, like a veil has been lifted, and provides clear dialogue, wide stereo spacing across the front, ample amounts of ambience in the surrounds and the occasional discrete sound panned off to the side or rear.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

Behind the scenes production featurettes make up the bulk of the extras in this release.

The supplements:

  • Storyboards – Watch the film with these picture-in-picture storyboards of the animation.
  • Promotional Video (1.33:1; SD)
  • Behind the Microphone (1.33:1; SD) – Have a look at the English voice cast as they speak about their characters.
  • Behind the Studio (1080p/24) – Miyazaki discusses his inspirations for the film and the various stages of its production.:
    • The World of Laputa
    • Creating Castle in the Sky
    • Character Sketches
    • Producer’s Perspective: Meeting Miyazaki
  • Textless Opening and Ending Credits (1.85:1; 1080p/24)
  • Original Japanese Trailers (1.85:1; 1080p/24)
  • Studio Ghibli Collection Trailers
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

You won’t find strong hand-drawn animation with just as strong a story behind it much better than this too many places. Castle in the Sky is worthy of the reference quality Blu-ray release it has been given. This is classic animated entertainment that should be scooped up by all animation fans.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004OQJSLS[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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