Castle in the Sky Language Problem

Here’s an interesting little language misalignment that I came across involving the Studio Ghibli film “Castle in the Sky.”  This panel from the “Teach English in Japan” webcomic features what is supposed to be a Japanese movie poster:


“Raputa” is written in katakana.

Curious as to what movie that poster was supposed to be for, I searched for ラプタ:

ラプタ Image Search

But, as you can see, that mainly returned results for the F-22 “Raptor” fighter plane.  Something was amiss.  So did a search for “raputa” which showed that the film I was looking for was “Castle in the Sky.”  It also, inexplicably, showed a penis (which I’ve censored):

Raputa image search

Censored for your work-safe viewing pleasure.

So then it was off to Wikipedia!  The English version gives you this:

English Wikipedia

Claiming that the Japanese title ends with the word “Rapyuta” (in katakana) but that the film is simply known as “Laputa.”  Indeed an image search for “ラピュタ” (“rapyuta” in katakana) returns the film in question:


So why does English Wikipedia believe that the film is called “Laputa” which would indeed by rendered in katakana as ラプタ as the webcomic has it?

Well, I took a look at Japanese Wikipedia to see if it had any clues:

Japanese Wikipedia

Indeed, it gives the name “LAPUTA:  Castle in the Sky”!

So there you have it.  LAPUTA appears to be the official romanization of ラピュタ (rapyuta) that the film producers used, even though that is non-standard.  Our webcomic author then incorrectly surmised that the Japanese must be ラプタ (raputa).  But if you were to say this to a Japanese person (or worse, write it) they would likely think you must be talking about something else entirely (with the most likely thing apparently being a fighter plane).

Just a little example to remind yourself to be very careful about how much you trust information on Japan that is presented in English.

This entry was posted in Internet commentary, Japanese Language. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s