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