Castle of Cagliostro was the first film anime legend Hayao Miyazaki ever directed, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind the first he wrote on his own, but Castle in the Sky Laputa was the first motion picture produced by Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. As the title suggests, Laputa features a floating civilization, as well as airships, incantations, and magical pendants.
While the flying castle and airships are still as fictional as a catbus or bread-delivering witch, this summer, fans will be able to get their hands on a replica of Laputa’s pendant that reacts when they recite one of the anime’s spells.
The film’s heroine, Sheeta, is in possession of a mysterious amulet. Handed down to her by her deceased mother, with a crystal made using techniques long forgotten, the pendant is the key to immense power. By holding it and speaking the words of the Laputan incantations, the wielder can tap into the ancient and terrifying capabilities housed in the ruins of the titular castle.
One of these spells, the Spell of Destruction, plays a critical role in the movie’s climax. As the word “barusu” (alternatively rendered as “balse” or even “valuse”) is chanted, the crystal shines brightly, forever altering the lives of all those present to experience what unfolds.
The scene is so famous that whenever Laputa is shown on TV, Japanese Twitter users gather to break the tweets per second record by tweeting “Barusu!” at exactly the moment it’s heard in the film.
In the nearly 30 years since Laputa’s release there’s been plenty of merchandise for the film, including replicas of Sheeta’s pendant. They’re poplar items at stores that sell Ghibli merchandise, and fans have even been seen wearing one and surreptitiously saying “barusu” into the stone.
Haha, silly Ghibli fans. It’s not like the amulet is going to light up, right?
Actually, that’s exactly what’ll happen with the newest version of the accessory.
The 2,400-yen (US$23.50) pendant has a built-in sound receptor, and will respond to the Spell of Destruction by shining brightly. Seeing as how it’s being made in Japan, you’ll have to go with barusu instead of one of the other renderings, and the manufacturer recommends speaking in a low, even voice, but as long as you do, you should be able to unleash its luminary magic.
According to the maker, that’s not the only spell that produces an effect, either. In the film, Sheeta recalls another incantation taught to her by her grandmother, with the vague advice that it will help her when she’s in trouble. Upon registering the same words, “rite ratobarita urusu ariarosu baru netoriiru,” (said to mean “save me and revive the eternal light”), the pendant will enter a “secret mode.”
Just what the secret mode entails will have to remain a mystery until the pendant goes on sale this July at Ghibli merchandise specialist Donguri Kyowakoku and other anime retailers.