According to legend, humans were fascinated with the sky; therefore they created increasingly sophisticated ways of lifting aircraft from the ground. This eventually led to flying cities and fortresses. Due to an unspecified catastrophe, most of the flying cities were either destroyed or crashed to the ground, forcing the survivors to live on the ground as before. One city, Laputa, is said to remain in the sky, concealed in the swirling clouds of a violent thunderstorm. While most people consider it to be fictional, some believe the legend is true and have sought to find the ancient city. Large airships still remain in common use.
Aboard a civilian airship, a girl, Sheeta, is escorted to an unknown destination by sinister-looking agents under Colonel Muska. The ship is attacked by a group of sky pirates led by an old, vivacious woman named Dola. In the resulting disorder between Colonel Muska’s men and Dola’s sons Charles, Louis, and Henri as well as other pirate members, Sheeta takes a small pendant from Muska and escapes out the window. The sky pirates attempt to seize her and the pendant, but Sheeta accidentally falls from the ship. As she falls, the pendant radiates a bluelight and she gently floats to the ground. A miner boy named Pazu witnesses this in amazement and catches Sheeta. He takes her back to his home, where she finds a photograph of Laputa. Pazu explains that his deceased father, an airship pilot and adventurer, took the photo but was disbelieved by his contemporaries. Pazu believes the city exists and wants to find it someday.