Howl’s Moving Castle Anime

I’ve been delaying viewing of this film for many years – I have not lost much. Unfortunately, Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the worst Ghibli films, despite excellent directing and music, featuring many wonderful scenes with well-fitting accompaniment by Joe Hisaishi.

Although, cuteness of the fire demon certainly brightened the viewing experience, Sophie seemed to be much softer compared to other Ghibli heroines with strong characters, and Howl was quite annoying. We see how characters grow to some extent, but this growth is unnatural and rushed.

Moreover, the cheese in the ending and especially the very last scene contained revolting amounts of saturated fat. Miyazaki himself mentioned that his rage about war in Iraq “profoundly impacted” the production of the film, but it didn’t manifest substantially in the final product. Uncharacteristically poor plot and pacing for a Ghibli film, but it is still worth to watch Howl for the visuals and music.

29 thoughts on “Howl’s Moving Castle Anime

  1. Hello again.

    I’ve been off blogging for ages.

    Sorry to hear that you didn’t like HMC that much. I loved it, it’s a useful anime to introduce to people that wouldn’t normally have much of an interest.


    1. Hi, Klara! ๐Ÿ™‚ It feels like I have not heard from you in ages indeed! I am glad you are back ๐Ÿ™‚

      It is good to take age and preferences of a person into account when making anime recommendations, but Ghilbli films tend to be are a good start in most cases.

  2. I guess on the contrary: I absolutely adore this movie.

    I am a big fan of Diana Wynne Jones’ books; she has a dry sense of humor, and an overarching common (this is a secret – if you haven’t read them) element tying all her novels. When I had heard that Miyazaki would be making a movie out of it – I was thrilled. I think Miyazaki treated her novel with beautiful care and added his own wonderful artsmanship to it. Of course, there’s a considerable amount of the book that was left out, but I think both movie and novel are excellent stand alone experiences. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think the fact that Miyazaki adapted this from her novel may have startled your expectations on the characters, because they certainly aren’t in the same vein as many of his other movies. :p

    1. It sounds like you really enjoyed this film ๐Ÿ™‚

      Knowing the books must have been helpful in viewing the film and made the experience more exciting for you ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, I got used to different types of heroines in Ghibli movies.

      P.S. I like your drawings, especially Pihassas and .sicarian. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I was not really satisfied in the first watch but after the second, it got much better. This movie, imo, is mostly about the details and the characters. The plot and the ending is just obligatory.

    I think it’s all about Howl who is, for the first time for Ghibli film, not a good guy but he changes after Shophie comes into his life ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Not one of my favorite Ghibli movies, but I thought it was OK. I actually watched the dubbed version (Christian Bale voicing Howl is win :D) Oddly enough, I found Sophie to be more annoying than Howl. xDD I think I liked old Sophie better. Maybe I didn’t get her character as I probably should have. Maybe it would’ve helped if I had read the book too.

    One of the worst Ghibli films? I’m a tad curious what are the others on your list. ๐Ÿ˜€

    My fave Miyazaki film so far is Tottoro, followed by Spirited Away. ^^

    1. I only watch dubbed versions if I have no other choice. Very few dubbed anime have voice actors that are as good or better than the originals.

      I did like young Sophie appearance, but not the character. haha Yes, old Sophie was quite fun ๐Ÿ™‚

      haha Well, I can’t think of any that are really bad actually – just I like some less than others. This weekend will be more busy than expected, but I’ll post my top 10 Ghibli films next weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’ve heard of this book, but I’ve not seen the movie nor read it. So I’m probably not in any position to comment about this film. But I do hear a lot about it from the internet and friends. Apparently it’s a classic? I’ve only seen Spirited Away and Mononoke from Miyazaki, and I loved them both. Actually I prefer Spirited Away; it feels like a warped up Alice in Wonderland. (: But I first saw it when I was 12, and it scared me. I didn’t watch it properly until a few years later once more.

    1. ……. A classic? A book might be, but I would definitely not put the film into such a category.

      hehe Spirited Away is scary in some scenes. I am glad you enjoyed it ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. well it depends on what anyone would define as classic, I guess…it doesn’t need to be sth that is a masterpiece in every aspect. For example, I’ve heard people saying Titanic is a classic, but if you think it hard, it’s just a big-budget soap-opera or melodrama, if you prefer.

  6. Hmm, I believe Lila has stolen my words.
    I’ve read the book about five times and watched the movie three times. And counting ๐Ÿ˜€
    (I like the book slightly better though, but I’m a raving Diana Wynne-Jones fangirl and an average Miyazaki lover, that’s probably why.)

    1. Oh wow, it sounds like you really enjoyed the book and the movie ๐Ÿ™‚ Probably, once you read the book and liked it, your perception of a film is affected by this experience. Books tend to be better than films usually.

  7. Hello!

    I just wanted to say that I completely agree with your review of Howl. There were certainly many memorable scenes, but overall it didn’t seem to quite fit together and the ending was rather rushed. Both leads were mostly bland and emotionless- it almost had that blank, alice-in-wonderland feel.
    But being a Ghibli it was still better than most out there!

  8. I’ve heard of the movie and the book, but I’ve neither seen nor read it. But people have spoke of it as it being a must watch movie and such. So I was surprised that you said it was quite a let down-but then again my cousin has a notoriously high standard when it comes to movies. He is really critical and at times his comments are similar to some I’ve read online. (: I feel that he should’ve been in film/production instead of being in public relations. He seems to be enjoying himself with the newfound responsibilities though, haha.

    1. When you find time, watch the film yourself and make your own conclusions. You are a writer and an artist, so you’ll be able to assess both the plot and the visuals well ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I’ve thought about getting the DVD, but after seeing the US release of Spirited Away I’m more concerned with the subtitling work than the film itself. I’m far from fluent in Japanese and subtitles will probably remain a much-needed crutch for the foreseeable future, but I know enough about the language to sense that the subtitles were a little off the mark (at some points, WAY off) – almost more of an adaptation than a translation, really. Ah, the perils of Disneyfication.

    I sure hope they didn’t mess Howl up for its US release.

  10. maybe it’s just me, but i could not get into much of his other films after watching Nausicca and Mononoke Hime, even though i still do not understand all the different themes he was trying to bring across (despite repeated watchings)
    i thought Ponyo was one of his more disappointing works though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    1. I find it interesting that my perception of some Ghibli films changed over the years. It happens to many other things in life in general also. I would rank some film somewhat higher now than before and vice versa. However, the rating would not change more than three to four points on my centiscale.

  11. Hmmm…My reaction to HMC when I first watched it was poor too. Nice visuals & music aside, I don’t really know where the story went and actually found it boring half way through. Somehow, it isn’t as inspiring as Miyazaki’s other films. Btw, I re-watched ‘Spirited Away’ recently and still loved it. What made me watch it again was the beautiful subtle Hisaishi composition “The Sixth Station”. I remember how much I loved that part of the film where Sen and No-Face took a train ride to meet Yubaba’s other twin. So random a reason eh! ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. I also thought that only visuals and music were good in Howl.

      Oh yes! It is a wonderful composition ๐Ÿ™‚ I like that scene in Spirited Away as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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