A bit too much of a traditional adventure romp for my taste, albeit with ecological steam-punk trappings. Only the castle itself with its giant metal curator really lingers. But you can't fault the workmanship on display. A sturdy film, but not one which resonated deeply with me. For that reason it has never become "go to" comfort viewing like 'Kiki' for me.
I really enjoy that the plot is the effect that technology has on us and that even the most technologically advanced world can have huge consequences when it is put in the wrong hands. I really gained a deeper understanding for how great nature and natural beauty is while watching the film.
Ghibli's films - and by extension, Miyazaki's - work best when fantasy invades a grounded reality. Films such as Spirited Away, Totoro, Ponyo etc. work well because of their magic realism, and the sense of wonder we experience through the protagonist(s). Meanwhile, this is exquisite hard fantasy fare, and while it misses the "anything can happen" brush of Miyazaki's later work, it has charm and invention in spades.
I always want to give Miyazaki films a million stars just because of how totally casually they populate their worlds with believable female characters. You have to see something being taken for granted to realise how powerful that normalisation in itself can be, I guess. Anyway, aside from me waffling about women (all I do tbh) I also want to shout out to the cute as heck robots! This is proper film crit right here.