Listening to the soundtrack at the moment, the images come back with a vividness that makes my longing for a dry eye very strong (in order to be able to type this). I've seen it twice thus far, and I should be ashamed for having seen it *only* twice.
I've seen all Miyazaki & Studio Ghibli films, and they are invariably nothing less than masterpieces (except maybe for Nausicaa which was, even in the non-cut up version too premature compared to the nec-plus-ultra manga). Still, their strength sometimes becomes their weakness, as they tend to get too naive/positive (Chihiro), or, with more nuance, a bit too explicit/moralist (Mononoke). At least, compared to for example the other Ghibli master Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies / Only Yesterday / Raccoon Wars). But not this one.
In Laputa, Miyazaki pours all the brilliant storytelling that tellers of tales have gathered and perfected over the ages, combined with a bit of morale, but nicely interwoven with not only a completely transcendental atmosphere, but also with the humor and amusement of for example Totoro. Every single main character is perfectly portrayed with their doubts and fears and their qualities that help them overcome difficulties. The pacing is so perfect that I know of nothing except a black hole that would be able to exert such a gravitational pull on your whole being. The story sets out as an action flic with mysteries hinted at, but when the girl falls from the sky, unconscious, floating with the stone, and the main theme kicks in, you get a glimpse of the grand mystery you're about to uncover, but the story then settles and gradually, over a number of carefully selected scenes of action and serene beauty, builds to an unforgettable climax of melancholy, hope, beauty - like, following days of sombre gloom, finally seeing the horizon on a clear morning, knowing the path walked, seeing the distance ahead, but smiling at the mere fact of being able to catch a glimpse of it.
It is so like an exploding white light in your skull that if by the time the credits start rolling you have kept your eyes dry and your mind numb, you should see a therapist.
Despite the fact that technically-image-wise some more recent Miyazakis might be more overwhelming, this to me remains his undisputed masterpiece. If you take a fraction of a second to realise that this was made back in 1986, you can only come to the conclusion that Hayao Miyazaki is a genius like a star that appears only once every 200 years. This of course has been suggested before, but to me this is his only film that can, on its own, fully illustrate that simple fact. If you miss this during your lifetime, you'll die with a huge gap - which would be a pity, as the coffin costs the same.