Howl’s Moving Castle (2004 Anime)

Howl’s Moving Castle, besides being an Excellent Middle Grade book, is also a fantastic anime movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Here’s the wiki:

Howl’s Moving Castle Anime Wiki.

I thought about trying to do some sort of scary movie for October’s movie selection, but considering that I don’t LIKE scary movies, nor gratuitous sex and violence, that really seemed to clear the playing field. Throw in that some of the movies I might have considered not being available on Prime and well, I decided to go for something that I knew I would enjoy.

Comparing this to the book, you could say both the book and the movie are animals and as such they are the same. But I’d go with saying one is a cat while the other is a dog. Both have four legs, a head, a tail, are animals and have fur. They are extremely similar. But as anyone who has ever met a cat and a dog knows, they are NOT the same, not even close. And thus it is with this.

Both the book and the anime have a character named Howl, one named Sophie, a fire demon named Calcifer and even a Wicked Witch of the Waste. But at it’s heart, the anime is an anti-war film. Miyazaki makes no bones about that with this film nor is he subtle, unfortunately. I say unfortunately, because it is really heavy handed and honestly, I found myself being distracted from the story and the beautiful art work. I hadn’t noticed it so much in earlier viewings as I was trying to pay attention to the story but this time around I just couldn’t ignore it.

The artwork is gorgeous and stands right up there with some of Studio Ghibli’s other films. Sophie’s curse wasn’t as constant as it was in the book and it was neat to see her get older or younger depending on how things were going. It was deftly done.

Just like in the book though, there is no real “enemy”. Howl redeems himself from his cowardice, the Witch of the Waste gives up Howl’s heart to save him, Madam Suliman stops the war. Miyazaki is a firm believer in the innate goodness of people and that shows quite brightly through his characters. Here’s a picture of some of the main characters, including young and old Sophie:

Mrs B did watch this with me, as it is one of the few movies we own that we’ll both watch. She enjoyed it as well as I. I almost forgot, Miyazaki’s love of black gloopy “stuff” is here in spades. Not quite as intense as in Princess Mononoke nor as scary as in Spirited Away but definitely menacing nonetheless.

We own this on dvd and it is one I’d consider upgrading to bluray for. So this film gets a thumbs up from both of us.

49 thoughts on “Howl’s Moving Castle (2004 Anime)

  1. I do like this film, but I find the anti-war stuff very heavy handed, and it’s a shame they didn’t stick with the more intimate story in the book. Would be keen to get one of these spinny things for my front door that tell you what dimension you’re in…and Calicifer is very cool…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was the first time I had really noticed just how much the anti-war stuff was there. Before, I was too enamoured of the overall story and the beautiful animation.

      next time Dr Who pops in for a visit I’ll ask him if he’s got a spare spinny he could lend you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d read the book before I went to see it at Venice Film Festival; I have to admit, I was dismayed when it moved away from the novel, although I get that viewers who didn’t know the original story may not mind. But it’s a bit of a film of two halves for me.

        Have you recovered from your horrible, not good week?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’d watched the movie first, not even knowing it was a book so I was simply enchanted. And not being an avid movie watcher, the “message” part of the movie simply passed right over my head. It wasn’t until this time around that I even noticed it. I’m kind of afraid to watch Princess Mononoke now! Because even I picked up on the environmentalist message 😀

          Doing much better. Hoping to be at about 90% by tomorrow.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Dude, you HAVE GOT to get your quantum computer fixed since you can’t do these simple calculations in your head. that is 90/98.6.
              Square it, divide by the root of pi, then multiply by the wavelength of the sun’s light cycle for the day and then bake for 30minutes. I mean, how much easier does it have to get?

              Liked by 1 person

                1. Sigh. Hear I stand, a humble reviewer trying to bring fun and education to the simple masses and what do I get? Heckled by tea drinking Brits.
                  If I wasn’t such a Stoic Ironing Master, I’d challenge you to an Extreme Ironing Duel!

                  Actually, you know what? That sounds like a fantastic idea for another tv show. Some sort of mix of survivor, american ninja and britain’s got talent. No singing and dancing though!

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. In the interest of not sparking off a world wide craze of ironing duels, I’m thinking we might want to make sure we announce that we only use cold irons. I don’t want to get sued if some stupid kids decide to duel with hot irons….

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  2. I have only this one to go by, because as you know I haven’t read the books (yet). But it’s definitely one of those anime films that I consider a classic and have rewatched many times. A truly remarkable movie, and one that show Miyazaki’s considerable skills. Excellent review, and glad to see that both you and Mrs. B enjoyed it!😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm..tough question really, as both are very good in their own ways🤔🤔 I think when it comes down to it, I would say Spirited Away for me was a slightly better movie. But only by inches really. I haven’t watched both of these in years either, think both are down for rewatch, especially considering the fact that pretty much all Studio Ghibli movies are on Netflix now😀

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I think you are talking about Porco Rosso. Haven’t seen that one myself, but it’s been on my list for ages (seriously wish there were more hours in a day).
            True, Miyazaki really does have certain themes that seem to return in all of his films. But he still manages to turn them into something unique each time😊😊

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Miyazaki is one of the rare directors who can transcend the anime genre and make universally appealing movies. Check out “Spirited Away” at some point. It’s long, but it is a fantastic movie.

      As for being a referee, got any good references? We can’t let just anyone be a referee in one our (soon to be) world famous duels!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the character line-up, like a curtain call. I used to draw stuff like that, once upon a time.

    Anti-war messages are so doggoned naive. Of COURSE no good people want war! Obviously, when war does occur, there is more going on!

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  4. I’ve watched pretty much every Studio Ghibli movie, both where Miyazaki is directly involved as well as not. I don’t know if I would consider myself a mega fan though, since I only really LOVE a few titles, and (unpopular opinion time) I think a lot of the rest is overrated. His older stuff is my favorite, though I may also be biased since as a child growing up in Asia I loved movies like Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service when they came out. Howls Moving Castle was okay, I enjoyed it and would rank it somewhere in the middle!

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  5. Oh, come one! Not even a classical horror movie review for Halloween? 🤨😋 jk – To each their own! Thanks for sharing the thoughts on this. Wow, that heavy handed about anti-war, huh? Wonder what drives these artists to put these political themes in these fantasy fiction stories?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t even like the hackneyed Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I saw part of one, in my 20’s. I was by myself and I had bad dreams for the next week. I appear to be immensely influenced by the visual 😦

      As for the anti-war message; as much as I talked it up, until this watch, I had never noticed it before. I do know Miyazaki tends to be a very “message” kind of director, on all sorts of messages, but I really like his movies and am able to overlook that aspect, most of the time 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Definitely enjoyed my time with this one as well when I saw it last year. I do love how these Ghibli movies tend to not have any particular antagonist and really centers around human nature or our plight with underlying messages that only some will notice if they look closely enough! Glad to see you guys enjoyed this again. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to see how expensive this, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away are on amazon. I am finding that I am getting so lazy that the thought of getting a disc out is more than enough deterrent to actually watching it.

      have you seen any/many Studio Ghibli, non-Miyazaki films?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahahah it’s probably why Blockbuster also slowly died and subscription services won the hearts of many. Everything within the palm of the viewer now! 😀

        The last one I saw was Grave of the Fireflies and boy… it’s a very emotional one!!! 😮 I don’t think I’ve seen any non-Miyazaki ones yet though.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I really enjoy this movie a lot, too! I’ve used the comparison before that the book and the anime have the same bones, but how they’re fleshed out is different. I like your cat/dog comparison better. 🙂

    Also? The waltz in this movie is among my favorite soundtrack pieces ever. It’s so good.

    Liked by 1 person

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