Laputa: Castle in the Sky in the Cold War
As a Symbol of Nuclear Technology of the Lost Civilisation
Volume 14, Issue 2 (Discussion 5 in 2014). First published in ejcjs on 29 July 2014.
This essay reviews the adventurous animation film, Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), directed by Miyazaki Hayao and animated by Studio Ghibli. Basically, it is an adventurous story about a boy, Pazu and a girl, Sheeta, as well as a legendary castle floating in the sky, Laputa. This review provides an analysis of the film in terms of international politics and peace research. Specifically, it examines the storyline in terms of ‘desire for power’ vs. ‘cooperation for peace’ in search of the legendary castle in the sky. The shift in power balance between the main characters is discussed, and we point out how political leaders utilise the word ‘peace’ to build up military power and justify the use of force. Notably, this study demonstrates the correlation between the number of global nuclear warheads as the political and historical background in the creation and release of this film. The implications for nuclear abolition, ecological peace, as well as peace education, then, will be explored in the context of peace research.
Keywords: ecological peace, lost civilisation, nuclear technology, nuclear weapons.
This is a film review of a Studio Ghibli animation film, Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) directed by Miyazaki Hayao. It is an adventurous story about a boy, Pazu who dreams of discovering a legendary castle floating in the sky, Laputa, and a girl, Sheeta who is a descendant of the royal family of the Laputa Empire. Laputa is named after the “third part of Gulliver’s Travels, formerly part of the Laputa Empire, which ruled over the nations of the earth” (Miyazaki 1996: 253). The original and possible titles were: Young Pazu and the Mystery of the Levitation Crystal, Prisoner of the Castle in the Sky, Flying Treasure Island, or The Flying Empire (Miyazaki 1996: 252), but Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Tenku no Shiro Raputa) was formally chosen in the end.
The historical background of the movie dates to the end of the 19th Century or the beginning of the 20th Century (Robinson 2013: 167). Miyazaki based his depiction of the scenery of the film on Wales, where he visited for research (ibid: 174). There is historical significance in this, from the perspective of issues of war and peace—the coal produced in the Great Britain during the age of the so-called Anglo-Japanese Alliance (1902-1923) was exported to Japan in support of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) (Yamamoto 2013: 221). Indeed, the term ‘alliance’ is one of the critical keywords in this essay. As mentioned above, the legendary castle in the sky in the movie stems from Gulliver’s Travels (1726), a political satire written by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745). Swift feared that the content of the book would offend the feelings of politicians and royal families so he published the book under a pseudonym (Nakano 2010: 88-89). Swift’s satire regarding politics in Great Britain becomes evident in the chapter regarding Laputa (ibid: 94). Likewise, the movie, Laputa: Castile in the Sky, has a political connotation in terms of issues of war and peace during Cold War politics.
This review provides an analysis of the film in terms of international politics and peace research, especially focusing on the symbol of the flying castle as a form of nuclear technology, as well as a lost nuclear civilisation. First, we look at the storyline as an analysis of conflict parties, through the ‘cooperation for peace’ of the hero and heroine and the ‘desire for power’ of the villains. Second, it examines the formation of the alliance among the main characters in pursuit of the power of the castle in the sky. Third, the symbolic implications of the Empire of Laputa will be investigated from the perspective of peace research, focusing on the number of global nuclear warheads as well as nuclear testing.
In the fourth part, this review scrutinises the implications of the ‘spell of destruction’ in the film and the lost civilisation for the abolition of nuclear weapons and ecological peace. Interestingly, the meaning of the spell is ‘peace’ in Turkish and just as in other Miyazaki animation films, this movie contains ecological messages for the audience. Finally, this essay suggests implications for peace education, especially political action towards ecological peace as well as a world free from nuclear threat.
Film Review from the Perspective of Peace Research
This review will adopt an interdisciplinary approach of peace research as well as international politics, which can be a core of other disciplines, such as “economics, mathematics, science, physics, biology, medical science, social welfare, literature studies, theology, philosophy, ethics, legal studies, political science, history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and international relations” and so on (e.g. Okamoto 1993: 24), attempting to analyse this film with a particular focus on war and peace issues.
Note: A modified version of the graph by Okamoto (ibid).
This review, therefore, combines peace research with international politics, especially the keywords of the discipline, such as power, alliance, and nuclear weapons. For instance, it is possible for political scientists or peace researchers to analyse this film as incorporating “counterfactuals and virtual history” (Nye and Welch 2011: 65) in relation with nuclear civilisation. Notably, this film was released in 1986 in Japan, when the number of global nuclear warheads reached as many as 70,000. Likewise, in the light of peace research, this study examines how the villain utilises the term ‘peace’ in this film in order to justify his political ambition as well as the use of force, especially nuclear technology. The storyline of the film will be investigated through an application of ‘sequence analysis’ (Abbott 1995), in which closer attention is paid to the sequence of the story rather than characters’ lines.
The Levitation Stone: Cooperation for Peace vs. Desire for Power
Pazu is an orphan and earns his living as an apprentice mining engineer at a mine site in Slug Valley. Meanwhile, Sheeta, who has a mysterious levitation stone, is held hostage by a secret agent of the government, Muska, in an airship. One night, the airship is attacked by the Dola family, a gang of air pirates, who seek the levitation stone. Sheeta tries to escape from Muska and the Dola family, and hides outside the window of the airship, but ends up falling from her perch (Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013b: 5-27). Both Muska and Dola, a female pirate, are villains that desire the levitation stone and the treasure of Laputa, but whereas the former is one of the most egoistic villains in Miyazaki’s animated films (Hirota 2004: 47), the latter is more humane and takes care of Pazu and Sheeta later on (Yumoto 2013: 214-218).
When Sheeta is falling from the night sky, her levitation stone suddenly starts shining and she slowly drifts down to the mining town where Pazu safely catches her. The next morning, Sheeta wakes up and sees a photograph of Laputa taken by Pazu’s father. Pazu tells Sheeta that his father was an explorer and found Laputa in a storm cloud, but nobody believed the story, so Pazu wants to rediscover the legendary castle in order to prove that his father was right (Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013b: 30-88). The Dola family somehow detect Pazu’s house and try to follow Sheeta again, but she escapes with Pazu. In running away from the Dola family, Pazu and Sheeta come across a military tank locomotive operated by government agents led by Muska. Chased by both the Dola family and the government agents, Pazu and Sheeta fall into an abandoned mine site. In the mine site, they meet Uncle Pom who tells them that only the Laputians know how to utilise the power of the levitation stone. Right after they come out of the mine site, they are captured by the armed forces led by Muska (ibid: 89-195).
Clearly, the story divides characters into two classifications: those who wish to stop the villains from holding power and to help people in trouble (Sheeta, Pazu, the family of Pazu’s boss, and Uncle Pom), and those who pursue the levitation stone and the power of Laputa (the Dola family, Muska, and the government). In light of theories of international politics, the former class is consistent with ‘cooperation for peace’ based on ‘classical liberalism’ or ‘human nature idealism’, whereas the latter is influenced by ‘desire for power’ based on ‘human nature realism’ (e.g. Morgenthau 2006; Kegley and Wittkoph 2006). In particular, the principal villain, Muska, shows his desire for political power by betraying his colleagues, whereas the Dola family purely pursue Sheeta’s levitation stone and the treasure of the legendary castle for economic power. In the next section, however, the Dola family, which does not necessarily value political power, begins cooperating for peace by forming an alliance with Pazu and Sheeta.
Balance of Power: Pazu-Sheeta-Dola Alliance vs. Muska’s Military Forces
Although it was an “asymmetrical confrontation,” the concepts of the balance of power and alliance can be useful frameworks in an analysis of the conflict relationship between Pazu, the Dola family, and the military forces led by Muska (Miyazaki 2013b: 130-131). In the military fortress, Pazu is imprisoned in a one-room cell, while Sheeta is treated as a guest just like a princess in a gorgeous room. Muska takes her into another room holding a broken robot. Muska then explains to Sheeta that one day the robot, made of an unknown metal and endowed with destructive power, fell from the sky, presumably from the Empire of Laputa. Muska moreover tells Sheeta that she is a princess of the royal family of Laputa and must know how to utilise the power of the legendary castle (Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013b: 196-215). In this scene, Muska lectures Sheeta that it is dangerous for ‘peace’ for such military robots still to exist in the sky, and that she should help discover Laputa (ibid: 213). Intriguingly, the word ‘peace’ is used only one time in this movie, ironically by the worst villain—Muska—who tries to conquer the world by monopolising the military technology of Laputa. This scene indicates Miyazaki’s satirical message on how political leaders tend to make use of the term ‘peace’ in order to justify their desire for power and use of military power.
Muska persuades Sheeta to ask Pazu to give up on Laputa, and Pazu, discouraged, goes back home where he finds the Dola family awaiting him. Dola, as the boss of the pirates, desires to obtain the levitation stone and the treasure of Laputa, and decides to ally with Pazu so that Sheeta can cooperate with Dola in search of Laputa. Similarly, Pazu needs Dola’s expertise and cooperation in order to rescue Sheeta from Muska, and hence, the Pazu-Dola family alliance is formed as a counterbalance to the Muska-led military force (ibid: 229-245). Meanwhile, Sheeta’s levitation stone starts emitting its light, pointing to the direction of Laputa, and activates the military robot that begins firing at the soldiers in the fortress, in order to escort Princess Sheeta. Taking advantage of this emergency, Muska takes control of the armed forces from the military leaders in order to destroy the robot. In the meantime, the alliance of Pazu and the Dola family turns out to be of importance, since they succeed in rescuing Sheeta who can help to find Laputa. In this scene, Sheeta drops her levitation stone from the fortress, yet it still shows the direction to Laputa (ibid: 250-325).
Thus, Pazu and Sheeta join the Dola family’s airship, Tiger Moth, racing Muska’s military airship, Goliath, in search of Laputa. In this scene, the Pazu-Dola alliance is extended or strengthened as the Pazu-Sheeta-Dola alliance. The Dola family is depicted as a lovable gang of pirates who accept Pazu and even fall for Sheeta. At night Pazu and Sheeta look out over the top of Tiger Moth so that they can watch out for Goliath and find Laputa. Thanks to the proper guidance and surveillance by Sheeta and Pazu, the Dola family finds the gigantic cloud surrounding Laputa, but Muska’s Goliath also finds the cloud and starts fighting Tiger Moth. Pazu and Sheeta on board a surveillance aeroplane leave Tiger Moth and enter into the thundercloud, and finally touch down on the legendary castle, Laputa (ibid: 328-405).
The Ultimate Power: ‘Thunder of Laputa’ as a Symbol of Nuclear Technology
When Pazu and Sheeta arrive at Laputa, they are welcomed by a military robot of the castle. They realise that the robot is kind—watching over the eggs of flycatchers, and moreover, putting flowers on the graves of other broken robots (Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013b: 411-425). Clearly, the legendary castle is a lost civilisation somehow abandoned by Laputians long ago. The Dola family is taken hostage by Muska’s soldiers and Sheeta is also captured by Muska, who takes her to the central chamber of the castle where a gigantic levitation stone is enshrined as a metaphorical image of a “nuclear reactor” (Miyazaki 2013b: 131; Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013b: 426-454).
In taking control of the power of Laputa, Muska murders his military officers and soldiers and destroys Goliath. Significantly, Muska experiments with the “thunder of Laputa” (Rapyuta no ikazuchi) which creates a huge mushroom cloud on the surface of the ocean—closely similar to a nuclear test (Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013b: 461-463). The film was created during the Cold War, as was Nausica of the Valley of the Wind (1984), and therefore, it is possible to interpret that the military power of Laputa symbolises nuclear technology. As a matter of fact, both the United States and the Soviet Union continued creating and testing nuclear weapons, and finally, the number of nuclear warheads of the world reached a peak in the year when the film Laputa: Castle in the Sky was released as shown in Graph 2.
Note: Data estimated by Norris and Kristensen (2010: 81) modified by the author.
As Photo 1 below indicates, it can be interpreted that Miyazaki intentionally depicted the thunder of Laputa as a nuclear test during the nuclear arms race. Given the fact that the number of nuclear warheads peaked in 1986, this scene undoubtedly symbolises the nuclear technology of a lost civilisation. The scene is based on the mythical fiction that there existed a nuclear civilisation long ago, and that human civilisation, which is associated with Mohenjodaro of the Indus Valley Civilisation, was once extinct as a result of nuclear war. Likewise, the “thunder of Laputa” utlises the motif of ‘Indra’s arrow’ in the Ramayana, a Hindu epic saga in which Prince Rama saves Princess Sita in war, and the God Indra utilises an arrow of thunder (Aramata 2013: 211; Miyazaki 2013a: 69; Kano 2006: 90) to burn everything on the earth (Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013a: 93; Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013b: 461-463). In this sense, it is natural to consider that the film, just like other nuclear-related movies, such as Godzilla and Astro Boy, was influenced by the Cold War politics in which nuclear tests were conducted by the United States and the Soviet Union (Yanobe 2013: 238). In fact, as shown in Photo 1, the thunder of Laputa is similar to the image of the hydrogen bomb test around Bikini Atoll, through which all crew members of the Daigo Fukuryumaru (Fortune Dragon Number Five) were exposed to radiation in 1954. One of the survivors of the Daigo Fukuryumaru incident, Oishi Matashichi, noted that he thought “the sun rose in the west” (2011); Photo 1 is visually consistent with his statement.
Note: Image from Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Studio Ghibli 1986) adjusted by the author.
After watching the experiment of the thunder of Laputa and the cruel massacre conducted by Muska, Sheeta decides to steal the levitation stone back from Muska and starts running away. Muska follows Sheeta and finally catches up with her in the royal throne throne. Pazu arrives, and negotiates with Muska, saying that he has hidden the levitation stone and is ready to give it to Muska in exchange for Sheeta. Muska suggests that they should give him the stone within three minutes, but when the time is up, Pazu and Sheeta pronounce the “spell of destruction,” ‘Barus’ (barusu), in what has become a famous scene. Immediately after that, the levitation stone emits a strong light and Muska loses his eyesight; the castle begins collapsing. Pazu and Sheeta successfully escape from the castle in a flying glider and join the Dola family. In the end, Laputa with its gigantic levitation stone flies away from them to the point where none of them can see it (Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013b: 476-506).
The Meaning of ‘Barus’ and Its Connotation for Nuclear Abolition
As a matter of fact, the spell of extinction, “barus,” which signifies ‘close’ in the language of Laputa, literally means ‘peace’ (barış) in Turkish (ECTACO English-Turkish Online Dictionary 2014). Although it is uncertain whether Miyazaki referred to the Turkish word, because of this potential connection, fans of Laputa tend to interpret the meaning as “peace” (News Trend 2014). Incidentally, it is one of the most memorable lines in the movie—fans of the film simultaneously tweeted it on Tweeter when the film was broadcast on TV in 2013 (Nihon Keizai Shimbun 2013). Either way, if the military technology of Laputa represents nuclear weapons, the spell of destruction, regardless of the meaning of closure or peace, symbolises the abolition of nuclear weapons at the sacrifice of that technology (Photo 2).
Note: Image from Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Studio Ghibli 1986) adjusted by the author.
Although the disarmament process of Laputa was instantly complete, the global nuclear disarmament process has taken time (Graph 3). If the Empire of Laputa is a symbol of nuclear technology, it is also possible to interpret that the spell of extinction is a symbol of the abolition of nuclear weapons. This is an interesting and important contrast—whereas Muska referred to the word ‘peace’ with a view to conquering the world by monopolising the military technology of the Laputa Empire, Pazu and Sheeta pronounced the word ‘peace’ in order to close the nuclear empire and restore true peace.
In contrast to the upward-sloping curve in Graph 2 in which the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the nuclear arms race of the Cold War, Graph 3 below demonstrates the more-recent, decreasing number of global nuclear warheads. Politically speaking, it is logical to consider that the Cold War ended because, for example, the US containment policy worked, or because the competitors overstretched themselves in the nuclear race, but “the most important precipitating cause of the end of the Cold War was an individual, Mikhail Gorbachev,” who came to power as the Soviet General Secretary in 1985 (Nye and Welch 2011: 157). Gorbachev’s foreign and defense policy was not to increase unnecessary nuclear weapons in order to avoid the “classical security dilemma,” but instead adopted a doctrine of “sufficiency” (ibid: 158), and furthermore, initiated negotiations for bilateral nuclear disarmament with US President Ronald Reagan at the Reykjavik Summit in 1986 (ibid: 177). Interestingly, the parallel worlds of the film as a counterfactual history, and the real history of nuclear disarmament since 1986 coincide as shown in Graph 3.
Note: Data (Norris and Kristensen 2010: 81; SIPRI 2010, 2013) modified by the author.
As demonstrated in Graph 3, global nuclear disarmament has progressed since 1986, whereas the number of nuclear warheads peaked in the year. In this sense, this movie was created and screened at the turning-point of endeavours for global nuclear disarmament. In 1987, Gorbachev and Reagan agreed to eliminate Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) at the Washington Summit. In addition, Gorbachev and US President George Bush signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in 1991, promising nuclear disarmament (Nye and Welch 2011: 177). Against this historical and political background, the total number of global nuclear warheads has continued to decline even after the end of the Cold War in 1989, the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, the 2001 Terrorist Attacks in the United States, and the following US-led War on Terror. This trend toward global nuclear abolition has been accelerated by the Obama administration, bringing even closer a world without nuclear weapons. Moreover, this film has profound implications not only for nuclear abolition, but also ecological peace, as we will discuss in the next section. In the film, Sheeta tells Muska that Laputa was abandoned despite its military technology and economic prosperity, because the people who lived there became arrogant and forgot the significance of nature. Unlike the abolition of nuclear weapons, the central gigantic levitation stone as a symbol of nuclear technology is not broken, and rises aloft leaving behind human beings, implying that nuclear technology might continue to exist outside the planet.
Ecological Peace: a Silent Message from the Lost Civilisation
As well as nuclear-related issues, this film critically deals with ecological problems. It is not explicitly explained, but the reason why the Laputa Civilisation became extinct is that those who lived in the castle worshiped only its technology and neglected their harmony with nature (Mori 2013: 28; Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013a: 40). Anthony Lioi (2010), for example, analyses the correlation between Jonathan Swift and Miyazaki Hayao, suggesting that “Swift anticipated both Dialectic of Enlightenment and Silent Spring. Miyazaki shares Swift’s sense that society’s flaws infect the modern project to the core and, like Gulliver’s Travels, Laputa is designed to carry that critique to a mass audience.” In this sense, the film represents the Empire of Laputa as a deserted, lost civilisation (Hibi 2003: 68), and that the gigantic tree (nature) supports the castle (technology) which tends to go out of control (ibid: 70; Robinson 2013: 168).
Global environmental problems, such as environmental destruction, global warming, acid rain, and environmental pollution by toxic chemical substances, have been issues in international politics as well (Murata et al. 2011: 280). In other words, the process of industrial development has inevitably entailed environmental destruction. In 1972, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was established, and in the same year, the Club of Rome published The Limits to Growth (1972), warning that natural resources would be depleted within 100 years if human population continued increasing. The report pointed out that after reaching the limits of growth, the global population would start decreasing as a result of lack of natural resources as well as environmental destruction (ibid: 281). In particular, the report stressed “technology and limits to growth” in Chapter IV (Club of Rome 1972: 129-155). In a way, the film represents the limits to the development of “technology and civilisation” without harmony with environment.
Likewise, some of the fictional creatures in the deserted castle are extinct. For example, the “Minonohashi” in the film is an imaginary, primitive mammal that already went extinct in Tasmania in the 17th century (Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013a: 43, 92). In the castle, broken robots become part of the giant tree and other living creatures peacefully coexist without humans (ibid). The tillers thrive in the room where the gigantic levitation stone is enshrined, and the levitation stone is also protected by the roots of the central tree (ibid: 93). Moreover, as discussed earlier, the military robot tries to protect the eggs of flycatchers, symbolising the need for the protection of environment. We can infer that the reason why Miyazaki draws an imaginary, extinct creature and the eggs of flycatchers is that he desired to send a message for environmental protection, especially of endangered species, commensurate with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Washington Convention), which was signed in 1973 and came into force in 1975.
Implication for Peace Education: For Young and Mature Audiences
Of all other Studio Ghibli animated films, Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) is one of the most popular works among Ghibli fans (Robinson 2013: 163; Mori 2013: 9: Ishida 2013: 196), especially younger audiences. This is mainly because the film was deliberately aimed at mainly “elementary school-age children,” whereas Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984), for example, was created mainly for “an older audience” as explained by Miyazaki (1996: 252; Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko 2013a: 54). This means that the former is suitable for peace education for school children who purely prefer entertaining animation, whereas the latter is for mature students and adults who can analyse the deeper implications of the content for social and global issues. Notwithstanding the target audiences, the film Laputa: Castle of the Sky can be utilised in peace education both for young and mature audiences, because of its universality as originally designed by the director, who believed that “hundreds of thousands of older anime fans will come to see this film no matter what” (ibid). Likewise, Takahata Isao (2013: 80-87) noted that this film, which depicts the importance of “love and friendship,” can be shared not only by children but also by all modern adults.
In terms of “violence,” this “all-ages anime airborne fantasy epic” has garnered many reviews which note, for example, that:
Parents need to know that ‘cartoon violence’ and peril are fairly regular and sometimes intense in this spectacle, with abundant street brawling, gunfire (often aimed at children), artillery, death rays, even what looks like an H-bomb. Despite all that, no dead bodies are shown (Common Sense Media 2009).
Indeed, the heroine Sheeta resorts to the use of force to escape from Muska in the airship, and hits Muska’s subordinates to prevent them from capturing the heroes on the train. Also, Pazu implies that he is sometimes hit by the chief engineer, his boss at the workplace. Given the historical background of the film, it is understandable that subordinates are physically punished by their superiors, but this can be categorised as ‘power harassment’—as a form of violence nowadays. Moreover, Pazu is almost involved in a fight scene between the pirates and his boss in their mining town. They hit each other, but Pazu is taken inside the house by the wife of his boss so that he could run away with Sheeta. The important point in this scene, however, is the fact that these men are “unarmed” fighters (Otsuka 2013: 282) who do not intend to kill each other. Either way, the violent scenes are exaggerated, which is typical in animated films. With regard to violence, Robinson (2013: 167) observes that:
In Hayao Miyazaki’s world, men don’t hit women—there’s a chivalrous code here, which’s part of the action-adventure genre, seen also in Hong Kong martial arts movies or Hollywood’s action comedies. But if a guy does hit a women, you can be sure he will be punished… Muska hits Sheeta, and more than once.
This point can be raised as a discussion topic in peace education, from a perspective of violence against women as well as animated violence as “teaching material by negative example.” Muska, who utilises the most devastating violence, the thunder of Laputa (Ishida 2013: 198), becomes blind and eventually falls from the castle at the end of the film, and therefore, the film contains some educational implications that violence shall be punished in the end (Robinson 2013: 167).
From an educational viewpoint, Anthony Lioi (2010) furthermore suggests that:
Teachers in these cultures should expose students to this film and involve them in discussions about the way its aesthetic raises political questions and shape political desires, so that students do not simply consume it as entertainment, but engage it as a tool for philosophical reflection and political action.
Accordingly, this film can be utilised as a source of peace education and a contribution to the peace movement, towards the minimisation of violence, renunciation of war, and the abolition of nuclear weapons. From a civilisational perspective, this film contains a further profound message for the post-3/11 human community which depends on nuclear technology (Mori 2013: 28-29: Yumemakura 2013: 251). This is because the levitation stone of Laputa Civilisation can be regarded as a symbol for the uranium that creates nuclear energy (Yanobe 2013: 244). This kind of civilisational topic also should be discussed in a peace education classroom so that students can consider the issues regarding ecology and energy. The film, moreover, conveys the inspiring message that children (Kanehara 2013: 112) can save the world from war, environmental destruction, and civilisational collapse, and hence, this film can be suitable learning material in peace education for both young and mature age audiences.
This review has analysed the Studio Ghibli animation film, Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) in terms of international politics and peace research. We have clarified that the hero and heroine cooperate for peace, whereas the villains desire the political, economic, and military power of the Empire of Laputa. Yet, it turns out that the Dola family only pursue the treasure of the empire, and Pazu becomes an ally of the pirates in order to rescue Sheeta, kidnapped by Muska in the fortress. It has been pointed out that Muska, who wishes to conquer the world under the violent military technology of Laputa, refers to the word ‘peace’ in front of Sheeta and the military robot, indicating Miyazaki’s satirical perspective on how political leaders use force and violence in the name of “peace.”
This essay, moreover, investigates the change in the number of global nuclear warheads from 1945 to the present. As Graph 2 shows, the number of nuclear weapons reached a peak in 1986 when this film was released in Japan. It was also emphasises that the “thunder of Laputa,” exploited by Muska, is a symbol of nuclear tests conducted by the leaders of the nuclear-armed states during the Cold War. At the same time, this study analyses the meaning of the “spell of destruction” in the light peace studies. We have revealed that the meaning of the spell means ‘peace’ (barış) in Turkish, and therefore, it is possible to interpret that the destruction of the empire symbolises the abolition of nuclear weapons. To relate this argument to the real political situation, we have provided figures on the shift in the number of global nuclear warheads from 1986 to 2013. Clearly, Graph 3 indicates that the number of global nuclear weapons has been on the decrease slowly but steadily.
The implications of the lost nuclear civilisation was considered in terms of ecological peace by contextualising the development of the global ecological movement, such as the establishment of the UNEP, the publication of The Limits to Growth, and the conclusion of the Washington Convention. As well, we have discussed the implication for peace education in terms of the strong message of the film for ecological peace and nuclear-related issues. In conclusion, this essay suggests that this film should be utilised as a learning tool in peace education so that students can discuss ways to achieve the world without nuclear threats as well as sustainable ecological peace.
Abbott, Andrew. 1995. ‘Sequence Analysis: New Methods for Olds Ideas’. Annual Review of Sociology Vol. 21, pp. 93-113.
Animage. 2010, 1986. Roman Arubamu: Eiga ‘Tenku no Shiro Rapyuta’ Gaidobukku (Roman Album: Film ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’ Guidebook. Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten.
Aramata, Hiroshi. 2013. ‘Sorakara Futtekita Shojo no Shinwa: Raputa no Shinborikku na Haikei (A Legend of a Girl fallen from the Sky: The Symbolic Context of Laputa)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 203-212.
Common Sense Media 2009. ‘Castle in the Sky’. 8 March 2009. Available at http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/castle-in-the-sky (accessed 18 February 2014).
ECTACO. 2014. ‘English-Turkish Online Dictionary’. ‘Peace’. Available at http://online.ectaco.co.uk/main.jsp;jsessionid=bc30a4e7d5d0167c3f31?do=e-services-dictionariesword_translate1&direction=1&status=translate&lang1=23&lang2=tr&source=peace (accessed 18 February 2014).
Hibi, Yoshitaka. 2003. ‘‘‘Shiro’’ kara no Nagame (Views from ‘‘Castles’’)’. In Yonemura, Miyuki. 2003. ed. Jiburi no Mori e (Towards Forest of Ghibli). Tokyo: Shinwasha, pp. 56-81.
Hirota, Shuo. 2004. Miyazaki Anime no Josei tachi: Kurarisu kara Chihiro made (Women in Miyazaki Animation: From Clarisse to Chihiro). Tokyo: Shinpusha.
Ishida, Ira. 2013 ‘Mottomo Kofukuna Animation (The Happiest Animation)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 195-202.
Kanehara, Mizuhito. 2013. ‘Furuku karano Jido Bungaku to ‘‘Raputa’’ no Rinkaku (Outline of ‘‘Laputa’’ the Traditional Children’s Literature)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 105-115.
Kano, Seiji. 2006. Miyazaki Hayao Zensho (The Complete Miyazaki Hayao). Tokyo: Film Art-Sha.
Kegley, Charles W. Jr., and Eugene R. Wittkopf. 2006. World Politics: Trend and Transformation. 10th ed. Melbourne: Thomson Wadsworth.
Lioi, Anthony. 2010. ‘The City Ascends: Laputa: Castle in the Sky as Critical Ecotopia’. Image Text: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies Vol. 5, Issue 2. http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/archives/v5_2/lioi/ (accessed 13 February 2014).
Miyazaki, Hayao. 1996. Starting Point 1979-1996. San Francisco: Viz Media.
Miyazaki, Hayao. 2013a. ‘Jidai o Koeteiku Tsuzokubunka o Tsukuritai (I Want to Create a Popular Culture That Transcends Centuries)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 62-79.
Miyazaki, Hayao. 2013b. ‘Kojinteki niwa Naushika karano Renzokusei ga arundesu (Personally, There Exists Continuity with Nausica)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 119-135.
Mori, Eto. 2013. ‘Pazu to Shiita no Uchinaru Kiseki (A Character Arc of Pazu and Sheeta)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013a. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 8-29.
Morgenthau, Hans J. 2006. Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Murata, Koji, Naotaka Kimizuka, Taku Ishikawa, Kaoru Kurusu, and Nobumasa Akiyama. 2011. Kokusai Seiji o Tsukamu (The Essentials of International Politics). Tokyo: Yuhikaku.
Nakano, Yoshio. 2010, 1986. ‘Garibaa ga Umarerumade (Background of the Birth of Gulliver)’. In Animage. 2010, 1986. Roman Arubamu: Eiga ‘Tenku no Shiro Rapyuta’ Gaidobukku (Roman Album: Film ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’ Guidebook. Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, pp. 87-99.
News Trend. 2014. ‘Tenku no Shiro Raputa no Jumon Barusu no Imiwa Fukai: Torukogo Eigo dewa nantoiu? (The Meaning of the Spell ‘Barus’ in Laputa: Castle in the Sky is Profound: How Do We Pronounce It in Turkish and English?) http://newstrend.jp/geinou/1598/ (accessed 17 February 2014).
Nihon Keizai Shimbun. 5 August 2013. ‘Barusu Matsuri de Moriagaru Nihonjin (Japanese Fans have a Barus Festival)’. http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXZZO58092290T00C13A8000000/ (accessed 17 February 2014).
Norris, Robert S. and Hans Kristensen. 2010. ‘Global Nuclear Weapons Inventories, 1945-2010’. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Vol. 66, Issue 77. pp. 77-83.
Nye, Jr. Joseph S. and David A. Welch. 2011. Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation: An Introduction to Theory and History. Eighth Edition. Boston: Longman.
Okamoto, Mitsuo. 1993. Heiwagaku o Tsukuru: Koso, Rekishi, Kadai (Create Peace Studies: Vision, History, and Agenda). Hiroshima: Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation.
Oishi, Matashichi. 2011. The Day The Sun Rose in the West: Bikini, The Lucky Dragon, and I. Honolulu: Hawaii University Press.
Otsuka, Eiji. 2013. ‘‘‘Tenku no Shiro Raputa’’ Kaidai (Interpretation of ‘‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’’)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 275-294.
Robinson, Jeremy Mark. 2013. The Cinema of Hayao Miyazaki. Maidstone, Kent: Crescent Moon Publishing.
SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute). (2010). SIPRI Year Book 2010 Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
SIPRI. (2013). SIPRI Year Book 2013 Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013a. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju.
Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013b. Shinema Komikku 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Cinema Comic 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju.
Takahata, Isao. 2013. ‘Gendaijin Zentai eno Yuai no Monogatari (The Story of Love and Friendship for All Modern Humans)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 80-87.
The Club of Rome. 1972. The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: Universe Books.
Yamamoto, Shiro. 2013. ‘Bokuno ‘‘Raputa’’ wa Eikokuryu (My ‘‘Laputa’’ is on English Lines)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 220-227.
Yanobe, Kenji. 2013. ‘Raputa to Osaka Banpaku: ‘‘Mirai no Haikyo’’ eno Boken to Kikan no Monogatari (Laputa and the Osaka Exposition: A Story of Adventure and Repatriation to ‘‘Ruins of the Future’’)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 238-245.
Yonemura, Miyuki. 2003. ed. Jiburi no Mori e (Towards Forest of Ghibli). Tokyo: Shinwasha.
Yumemakura, Baku. 2013. ‘Raputa Arekorenokoto (A Bit of This and That Regarding Laputa)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 246-252.
Yumoto, Kazumi. 2013. ‘Ikitsuzukeru tameni Umarenaosu (Rebirth to Continue to Live)’. In Studio Ghibli and Bunshun Bunko, eds. 2013. Jiburi no Kyokasho 2: Tenku no Shiro Raputa (Textbook of Ghibli 2: Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, pp. 213-219.
Article copyright Daisuke Akimoto.