Laputa - Castle in the Sky: A comparison of Joe Hisaishi’s scores for the film’s Japanese and English versions.

Shally Sharin Pais




Thirteen years post its release in Japan in 1986 under Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky was re-released in America under the production of Disney. This paper discusses the differences between the scores of the film’s two versions based on cue-by-cue qualitative analysis and examples from the films to illustrate the contrast. As there is a lack of unbiased investigation on the effects of different scores on the perception of the same film scenes, this case study aims to create a new resource providing an analytical comparison of these two compositions by Joe Hisaishi in order to interpret his compositional decisions. The four devices that played a role in reinventing the score in a Western compositional style to suit the audience’s cultural background include orchestration changes, re-interpreting melodies, the use of Mickey-Mousing and the addition of new cues. Consequently, the paper highlights these factors’ influence on the film’s narrative and aims to widen the discourse on composition for animation film scores.


Shally Pais is an international student at AIM who completed her undergraduate degree in Visual Communication in India. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Composition and Production, taking forward her Film Studies experience by developing her film scoring practice, specifically dealing with animation. She is working towards coalescing her knowledge and skills in creating audio and visual content through her intermedial projects.