Howl’s Moving Castle Review

Sophie works in a plain hatters’ shop and sees herself in the same practical and calm light as she views her hat creations. However, a run-in with the famous wizard Howl and his enemy, the Witch of the Wastes, soon changes things. Cursed into an old woman’s body, Sophie runs off to Howl in the hopes of breaking the powerful curse. But Howl has his own problems and soon Sophie finds that he just might need her help more than she needs his.

The violence in this movie is light overall. Near the end there are some scenes where cities are bombed from the air, but only things shown are some damaged buildings. There are also some “transformations” that might be a bit too strange for young viewers. In one scene, a witch’s power is taken from her and she reverts to a very old woman. Not long after, a sorceress attacks Sophie, prompting Howl to take on his non-human form, which resembles a bird-like creature. These transformations are clearly unpleasant at best, painful at worst, for the characters and thus might unnerve children.

Disney doesn’t often pick up anime titles, but Miyazaki’s works (including Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky and others) are the exception. And as expected of a Disney released title, there really isn’t any bad language in this movie.

There is no true nudity in this movie, but there is one scene where a young man panics and runs downstairs with nothing but a towel around his waist.

The main male lead in this movie is a wizard, so magic is very much a part of this world. Thus spells and curses are frequently mentioned. One character is also reputed to be a “demon.”
However, it is worth noting that although the term is translated into English as “demon,” it is not what people typically think of as a demon. In Japanese, the original term is more likened to monsters or something that is created or heavily affected by mythical forces. English doesn’t really have an equivalent so the word “demon” is usually used in translations.

Personal Impression:
I will openly admit that some of Miyazaki’s other work, namely Spirited Away, gives me the chills because of the bizarre and creepy animation, but Howl’s Moving Castle is not in this category. In fact, it is easily one of my favorite anime films, despite the strange blob-like henchmen under the control of the Witch of the Waste. The characters are all interesting, the story is complex enough for adults to enjoy, the animation is classically hand-drawn (even the moving castle itself), and the soundtrack’s whimsical tune fits its world. It has its light moments of laughter, compelling action and moving tears. Although the original novel by Diana Wynne Jones has better characterization, this interpretation is still an amazing perspective on Howl’s world. So, if you would rather see a well-rounded movie than invest in watching an entire series, this movie is great place to start!

Personal Rating: 10 and up

Episode: Movie
Languages: Dubbed (English or French) and Subbed
Official rating: PG
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy
Legal streaming: Not available
Screen shots:

This entry was posted in Ages: 10+, Anime Reviews, Disney Anime, Movies and tagged , , , , , , by inrosegalaxy. Bookmark the permalink.

About inrosegalaxy

Raised on everything from Moby Dick to the Star Wars X-Wing books from a young age, it came as no surprise to anyone who knew me that I’d become a literature graduate and avid writer. But my love of a good story wasn’t restricted to the written word in my early years. Star Trek, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and badly dubbed Godzilla flicks helped shape my love of science fiction on screen as well. I wrote my first story while in the second grade. It was a horrifying tale about murdering a fairy-eating dog via a slice of pizza (in my defense, my only exposure to pizza was in the cafeteria and I swear you could legitimately kill someone with those things). I was a special snowflake. Today I write science fiction, fairy tales, Gothic epistolaries, fantasy and anything else that pops into my bizarre and twisted mind. I write new articles for my blog every Tuesday and Thursday. And if you happen to fancy Japanese animation, I also run an anime review blog, RRAR, which updates every Monday.

7 thoughts on “Howl’s Moving Castle Review

  1. I think your review is spot on! Thanks for taking the time. I enjoyed this movie a lot! It was definitely different, but lots of fun!

    • I’m really glad you enjoyed it! It is indeed quite strange. Ghibli films are like that. But it’s got a lot to it. Both comedy and heart.
      Great one-liners don’t hurt either.
      “May all your bacon burn…” ;o)

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