Legends tell of a floating island in the sky known as Laputa, upon which is rumoured to be treasure beyond a person's wildest dreams. Sheeta is an orphan girl who is being hunted down because of her necklace, a rare Levistone, which legend says will lead the way to Laputa. One day she is saved by Pazu, a miner apprentice and also an orphan, and together they set out to escape from her would-be captors. Unfortunately, their friendship must go through endless trials in their quest to hide Laputa's location. What is Sheeta's mysterious legacy, and what hidden motives do Sheeta's enemies have in regards to finding Laputa?
The responsible orphan Sophie led a relatively normal life, safe within the walls of the hat shop in which she works; for outside, it is rumored, the evil wizard Howl roams the land in his mobile black castle. After a chance and mystical encounter, poor Sophie finds herself transformed by a spell which makes her appear to be an old woman, and thus embarks on an adventure to find Howl's castle and put an end to her curse. A mystical world of talking flames, sentient scarecrows and magic aplenty awaits those who seek the legendary Howl...
Castle in the Sky seems to be directed more towards a younger audience than Howl's Moving Castle, which has a more direct relationship between the main characters. Both deal with magic and moving islands, and have a very entertaining quality that is shared in the action and adventure the main characters partake in.
Kiki is a young witch who has just turned thirteen, and as tradition dictates she must now leave the safety of her home for a year to undergo witch training. One clear night, Kiki takes off with her cat Jiji and her mother's broomstick to start her new life, and finds herself in a town near the ocean - but she's disappointed to find that people aren't nearly as friendly as she'd imagined they'd be. With nowhere to stay and no outstanding magical skills besides flying, Kiki begins to wonder if she's come to the right place; but after returning a pacifier to a customer of a local shop, its owner, Osono, offers her a place to stay. Kiki soon decides that she'll start her own delivery service, and with the help of newfound friends she sets forth on a journey to discover who she is and how to make it on her own.
Both Kiki's Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky are a story about independence and the coming of age for the main character. There is a theme of cooperation between the hero and heroine in each, and a strength which they exude.
Chihiro and her family are on their way to their new home, when they discover an abandoned amusement park. After Chihiro's family mysteriously turn into pigs, she is thrown into a surreal world of magic and fantasy. Join her as she struggles to survive in the bathhouse of the gods, ruled by an evil witch who has stolen not only her name, but her way back to the real world.
Both Spirited Away and Castle in teh Sky have a more child-like quality about them. The blossoming love between the two main characters is seen as being more innocent than in others. The two characters have to work together in an adventure of their lives.