Anime holds a special place in my heart as the number of possibilities is endless as are the stories in any world it can tell, and with this film, I believe Hayao Miyazaki has done just that. Immediately you are introduced into a world of incredible animation and wonder. With a female hatter showing her pride in her work and an outfit that shows she is not prideful in herself, you quickly realize that the story will revolve around her, and you are ok with that. The plot is incredibly captivating as you follow the hatter Sophie through her story of finding Howl, who seems to be an incredible wizard, and you learn of his incredible life and times as he struggles through many hardships.
The movie is from 2004, which is definitely evident when watching the animation as it is considerably more crisp compared to earlier workings from Hayao, as well as the style of animation has evolved since earlier workings. As you continue to watch the film, the story progresses very smoothly, introducing the needed characters appropriately, and giving you time to think about each action. This also brings up an unfortunate side effect, many of these characters are minor, but hold a large role in the story untold. Where are they from? Why are they of such importance to Howl? In specific, his apprentice, ‘Markl’.
He is very quickly introduced to Sophie as a supporting character. Very knowledgeable, and very young he first meets Sophie who is sleeping in the castle. My main question is why he is there in the first place, how did Howl come to take on an apprentice? Unfortunately, that was not answered in the movie, as it was not of any concern to the progression of the story.
One thing that also caught my attention was the Witch of the Waste was such a heavily evil character, and quickly sways her character as weakness is shown.
The witch was my favourite character as she is quickly revealed to be a kind of old delusional lady. All she wanted was love, and that carried over into her old age. It gives the movie a very quick comedic value, as you are constantly fed emotion through Sophie’s adventure. The constant story progression allows this movie to keep you guessing as to what is going on. With the plot always changing, and the characters always giving you excitement, the film covers many categories of viewership.
The castle itself, the namesake of the film, was always exciting to see on the screen. As it almost had a life of itself, given to it by the flame at its core, it always kept you thinking about how Howl came into possession of such a domicile. But it is quickly revealed that it is just a namesake, and does not hold a large portion of any of the plots. This film seems to be an instant classic, as does any film from Hayao, but as this is one of the newer additions to the collection, it applies to a much larger crowd.
Howl's Moving Castle
Plot - 7/10
Character Development - 8/10
Rewatchability - 6/10
The film is an incredibly addition, but as there seems to be many smaller plots, the ability to re-watch slowly creeps away.