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Howl's Moving Castle - Fairytale Fantasy Fantastic - Anime Worthy of Oscar Recognition

Updated on September 12, 2014

I wasn't a fan of anime when I first saw this movie. Students had been singing the praises of the genre for some time but I was not yet impressed with the limited representations of it I had seen.

Director Hayao Miyazaki's visual masterpiece forever changed that.

The first time I saw it, it was on loan from a student. I had been insisting she read a book off a list I made, so she up and insisted it would only be fair if I watched a movie she loved.

She had been expounding upon the virtues of anime for some time. In my very limited experience, it was all violent, so I wasn't a fan. My student sought to change that.


She succeeded, in spades.

The first thing that caught my attention, literally seconds after starting the movie was the quality of the artwork. Vividly detailed, bright, rich scenes popped off the screen. The stuff I had seen prior to this in the anime genre seemed flat and empty in comparison.

The title might lead you to think the movie is about an actual moving castle. While there is a moving castle, which is really cool, it's not what the story is all about. The castle, in my mind, is a metaphor for the spiritual condition of the owner, Howl.

The real story however is about Sophie, the sweetest young lady you can imagine.


In the beginning...

In brief, with no spoilers (I promise), our tale begins with Sophie working in her mother's shop. By whim of fate, simple hard luck or some other cosmic force of bad, by the end of the day a curse has been cast upon our dear girl. Said curse condemns Sophie to premature old age and all the maladies that come with it. It's the catalyst that begins her incredible adventure.

In her travels to find a cure for the curse, Sophie meets Howl, a rather reluctant and rebellious wizard of some repute. While at first it appears he may just save her, things end up illustrating how multiple characters have to work together to save each other.

The themes involved in this movie such as growth, redemption, forgiveness, friendship and loyalty are serious, adult type themes. Surprisingly, there's no lack of comedy.

My personal favorite character, Calcifer, the spirit that enchants Howl's castle, steals the show eliciting belly laughs of monstrous proportions. He's a fire demon, a disembodied spirit, a prankster, a bit of a bully and lovable as all get out.


This is an all around feel good flick for folks of all ages.

Adapted from the book by the late Diana Wynne Jones, award winning Director Hayao Miazaki's rendition racked up awards and raised the bar in this relatively new genre. It is consistently ranked among the top five anime movies ever made on lists across the Internet and in print.

Younger ones will enjoy the story at face value while us older ones will enjoy the subtle nuances woven within the journey. Magic, intrigue, brilliant imagery and lovable characters complete with the most human foibles make Howl's Moving Castle a must watch for fans of animation, fairy tales and lovers of fantasy.

Check out Calcifer. He's hilarious!.

Check out the trailer and a short scene with Calcifer, the fire demon.


Calcifer is my favorite character.

Basically, he's really full of his fire demon self. I just love him and a few others.

Gorgeously done, this is a tale destined for classic status.

"Howl's Moving Castle" Trailer (English version 2005)

Books that have been made into movies are awesome for sparking young minds to read and write. They are great for parents and teachers, too.

Would you like to know how well the little ones paid attention to the reading? Ask them to compare and contrast the two versions. It's great practice for standardized testing writing assessments.

Enchanting.

The Art of Howl's Moving Castle
The Art of Howl's Moving Castle

For art lovers, those in need of a killer conversation starter coffee table book and fantasy fans , this fantastically illustrated book brings the story to life.

With a neutral color and such a sophisticated selection for the cover, this will fit in with many modern decors.

 

Have you seen Howl's Moving Castle? Do you like anime or even cartoons? Please, share your thoughts.

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    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @MoshiMonsterFan: I'm glad. I hope you enjoy it. I know I did, many times :)

    • profile image

      MoshiMonsterFan 

      4 years ago

      OMG I just saw the movie videos and I now love it cause i'm a fan of anime!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @DreamsBloom: It really is and I thank you for it. I think I want to try one of the more girly ones. I saw one but sadly can't remember the name of it. It was a series I believe but I really don't remember as I didn't even get to see all of it. Thank you for the recommendations, very much. God bless!

    • DreamsBloom profile image

      DreamsBloom 

      4 years ago

      @Rhonda Lytle: You might not like any of them, but it's still nice to have some recommendations anyway as a starting point as there are so many out there.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @DreamsBloom: Oh, wow! Thank you. This is great. Now, I don't have to wade through a bunch. I did watch "Samurai Seven" and liked it though I think having seen the original black and white subtitled movie contributed greatly to that. I really liked "Princess Monokee" (sp) too. It's weird as "Samurai Seven" is vastly different from the other two yet I found it really inspiring. It's a metaphorical hero tale really, most complex though on surface level it seems just comedy and violence.Thank you so much for the most awesome comments! God bless and most happy squidding.

    • DreamsBloom profile image

      DreamsBloom 

      4 years ago

      @Rhonda Lytle: I like a wide variety of anime, from the action packed stuff for "guys" and the cutesy stuff for girls, and I definitely love the more high quality stuff like Howl's. Since you seem to like more of the latter here are some series that I have liked that I think are more quality. Some of these can be viewed on Hulu.com or CrunchyRoll.com (these are legal streaming sites)...mostly you will only find sub-titled and not dubbed versions on those sites. The first of these are geared more to girls and have a bit of the "cuteness" to them, but still have more depth to them (in my opinion). Fruits Basket, Clannad (there is also a follow up called Clannad After Story), Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, Kimi ni Todoke - From Me To You. Mushishi, Natsume Yujin-cho (aka Natsume's Book of Friends)...these two are more about "spirits" or such. Those who like Spirited Away may like these. Chihayafuru (about a Japanese card game, but is surprisingly exciting), Usagi Drop (a story about a 30 year old bachelor who ends up taking care of his grandfather's five year old daughter!), Kids On the Slope (about some Japanese kids who love Jazz music). Also, this one is more of a short than a series, 5 Centimeters per Second. Oh, and I must mention Traveling Daru...it's only about 10 minutes long.

    • DreamsBloom profile image

      DreamsBloom 

      4 years ago

      @SheilaMilne: I love the movie more than the book, but that may be because I saw the movie first. I do love what Miyazaki did with the movie, but there are many parts that are quite different from the book. Many movies based on books are done terribly...that is not the case in this movie, it is done very, very well. But because of the differences that could still make those who loved the book first disappointed.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @yayang0405 lm: I think you will like it. One thing is for sure, it's safe for your nephew to watch :). Thanks bunches and enjoy.

    • victoriuh profile image

      victoriuh 

      4 years ago

      This book and movie are favorites of mine. Congrats on LOTD!

    • yayang0405 lm profile image

      yayang0405 lm 

      4 years ago

      I have not seen this movie. After reading your review, maybe I would try to watch it. I am also not a fan of anime but my nephew is.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @victoriuh: :) Thanks bunches. I wish I had seen it long before I did. Blessings!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @Merrci: Thank you so much. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It's the most awesome animated movie I ever saw. God bless and most happiest of squidding! :)

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I'm so excited for you to win Lens of the Day! Great review. I've avoided similar shows, but will definitely see this after reading what you had to say. It looks very cool! Congratulations!!!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @RoadMonkey: I haven't seen "My neighbor Totoro" but heard it won some awards. I would like to check that one out. I agree the movies tend to be so different from the books these days. I guess it's for higher ratings or what have you. I'm interested to see where this genre goes in the future. Right now, having seen very little really, there seems to be at least three kinds, the really high quality full length films like these, the action packed fight after fight and not much more on TV and the cutesy type stuff geared more for girls. I'm going to look at it as an excuse to watch a few more of these :). Thank you bunches for the read and such a cool comment. Blessings!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @Heidi Vincent: Thank you so much :) I tripped when I saw it made LOTD. Made my entire day. Thanks bunches for dropping back by. Most appreciated. God bless you.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @Ibidii: I have not seen Ponyo. I'm going to have to check that out. Spirited Away was great :). Thank you so much for the read and kind comment. Blessings.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 

      4 years ago

      I Love Howl's moving Castle, I love even more "Spirited Away"! There are some really great anime films and I don't think Hiyao Miazaki, the director made a bad one at all! If I enjoy a film, I tend, these days, not to read the book because generally, they are very different. Princess Mononoke is a good anime and very environmentally conscious.And "My neighbour Totoro" was enjoyed by my grandchildren over and over from the age of 4 years. There is NO violence in it and even though I had to watch it over and over, with my grandchildren, I still enjoy it.

    • hollybobolly profile image

      hollybobolly 

      4 years ago

      I love this movie as well as all other Miyazaki films. I didn't know this story was from a book!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      4 years ago from GRENADA

      CONGRATULATIONS on winning LOTD, poevix! I am really happy for you. I already liked this lens before you became famous :))

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @SheilaMilne: Can't say I blame you if you love the book. I've never seen a movie that really does a book right though I thought "The Godfather" and "Gone with the Wind" came close. "Roots" too really but most don't. Like "Interview with a Vampire," loved the book but the movie was a disappointment after having read it.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @queenofduvetcover: I doubt I would have given it a second glance were it not for my student pushing it so. I'm really glad she did. She introduced me to an interesting book series too by author Christine Feehan. (sp). Blessing and most happy squidding.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @thegembank: I hope you enjoy. You for sure won't be bored :). God bless.

    • profile image

      Ibidii 

      4 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD! My adult kids introduced me to Howls Moving Castle two years ago. We recently watched it again. I love this movie. Since then they have had me watch several anime movies in the same vein. Spirited Away 2001 was another that I really liked! The third one I like also is Ponyo 2008.

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 

      4 years ago from Kent, UK

      I haven't seen it and probably won't because I loved the book so much and I'd be afraid it would spoil it for me.

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 

      4 years ago

      Never heard of this movie until now. I'm definitely going to see it. Thanks for the review. I knew someone who ADORED anime and I used to watch it with him. =)

    • profile image

      thegembank 

      4 years ago

      this seems to be interesting animated feature. worth a look.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @ChocolateLily: Thank you so much. :) It's like an early birthday present :). Mr. Vix was asking me last night what I wanted as it's coming up soon. This is better than anything I thought up. I was thinking deck chairs.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @astevn816 lm: :) Thank you. I was amazed to see how much good material has already been made. This genre is really still pretty new in the scheme of things but loaded up already. Very cool.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @anonymous: Thanks bunches :). I was so happy to see it this morning. Made my day!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @Dressage Husband: Thank you :). I hope you enjoy. I found one, through a student recommendation again, that was actually based off an award winning movie. It's called Samurai Seven. I watched the black and white original movie with subtitles and then the anime version. The cartoon was better, I thought :). Of course, at the time the symbolism was lost on the student. He was all about the action. But, it was rich, full of juicy symbolism.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @sirteacup: Thank you very much. I really am a fan now. I Spirited Away. It was awesome! No matter how many times I watch Howl, I end up tearing up and laughing out loud. I wish Calcifer would just move in here :).

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @kayenta: Thank you and I'm glad. :) This movie will make you smile. Blessings.

    • profile image

      ChocolateLily 

      4 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD! :)

    • astevn816 lm profile image

      astevn816 lm 

      4 years ago

      A great lens, I enjoy Anime Also

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      4 years ago

      "Howl'a Moving Castle" i clearly a cinematic achievement. Congratulations on a well-deserved LotD!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      No, but your review has made me wonder if there are some anime's worth watching. Well done lens and well deserved LOTD.

    • profile image

      sirteacup 

      4 years ago

      Awesome lens, so glad that you're a converted fan! I absolutely loved this film, this and Spirited Away are probably my favorites. (I cried watching both).

    • kayenta profile image

      joann 

      4 years ago from utah

      Great review! I enjoyed the trailer :)

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @ChocolateLily: I share your awe. His are over the top special, at least for me. Thanks bunches for the kind words and cool comment. God bless and most happy squidding :).

    • profile image

      ChocolateLily 

      4 years ago

      This is probably my favorite movie! It really is the most enchanting, hopeful, and romantic movie, complete with plenty of action and adventure. I am always in awe of the animation of Studio Ghibli. My husband and I are big fans of >almost< all of Miyazaki's films. Your review was great too!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @boneworld: So far, I love everything I have seen by them too. Thanks bunches for the read and comment. God bless.

    • boneworld profile image

      Jackson Thom 

      4 years ago from West of Left South Lucky

      Yes, I like this movie. Yes, I like anime, and Yes, I love this movie. It's amazing. everything by this studio is amazing. Just awesome!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @JALowe LM: Mine too. :) Pun appreciated.

    • JALowe LM profile image

      JALowe LM 

      4 years ago

      This is my favourite Ghibli film. It is so magical (pun intended).

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @WriterJanis2: It doesn't do it justice, an enchanting movie really. :)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 

      4 years ago

      The trailer looks really good.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @georgepmoola2: Thank you :)

    • georgepmoola2 profile image

      georgepmoola2 

      4 years ago

      A very thorough review.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @Kim Milai: Thank you very much. I love them too. I've always been a fantasy fan and the colors just seem to bring it all to life. God bless!

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 

      4 years ago

      I don't consider myself an animation fan but I Love these films. Great review.

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