Howl’s Moving Castle Review

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I love being caught off guard by something amazing. What’s more funny is I should have seen it coming. Essentially I decided to throw on a movie on Netflix in the background while I played my DS. I found a movie with a cover that reminded me of Princess Mononoke. Go figure it is from Studio Ghibli, which made Mononoke. I hit play and quickly found my DS thrown to the way side. So stupid blabbing aside, let’s get on with my review of this amazing movie.

Story:
howls1Sophie, a hat maker who runs her deceased father’s shop one day runs into a wizard named Howl. Shortly after meeting, they are faced with a pack of shadowy figures. He quickly whisks her away to safety. Shortly after they separate, her sister finds her and is terrified that her sister may have had her heart taken away from her. Assuring her she is fine, Sophie leaves for home. While closing down her shop, she’s confronted by an evil wizard known as the Witch of the Waste. The witch places a curse on her to both take her youth (make her old) and make her unable to speak of the curse to others.

Now old, and unable to explain to her mother what happened to her, she flees from her hometown. Inadvertantly she saves a magical scarecrow who then leads her to safety from a cold storm into a moving castle. This castle is controlled by a fire demon, Calcifer, who seems to be tamed by the owner who ends up being Howl, the witch. After taming the fire demon and convincing Howl that she was hired to clean the castle by the fire demon, she makes her home there.

Without spoiling anything, the story moves on as she finds herself connected to Howl, she fights to help Howl, the fire demon, and others that come along. All the while seeming to fight her own curse. At the same time an almost pointless war is waging and witches are used as weapons.

Confused yet? Yes at first this movie was quite odd, but that’s what’s so great. You’ll find the puzzling situations fun to watch and make sense of logically. They managed to create such a unique world that is both full of logic but yet thrown through a magical spin left and right.

The part I enjoyed the most was watching Sophie change throughout the movie. It seemed when her passion rose, she looked younger. It was fun every now and then going “whoa, she looks younger!” and she doesn’t realize it because she’s caught in a particular moment. I also loved Calcifer the fire demon. He was awesome and added some great elements to the story.  Overall I can’t say anymore without spoiling stuff. It’s a great and unique story.

howl2Animation:
Beautiful as any other Ghibil Studio animation. These are the people that brought animations such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa, and many more great films. Very fluent and colorful. At times they almost bring in a 3d element that you can’t even see because it fits with the animation so well.

Music:
The music drove the suspense and action. While there wasn’t anything that stood out, that’s a good thing. It flowed with the film and made for a great harmony.

Overall, it’s a solid family friendly amazing adventure. While the intro said Mild Language, I didn’t notice swearing but they did have some back and forth spouts between the witch of the waste and the main character. I recommend this for anyone and any age. Some parts are however dark magic’ish and there is some scenes of bombing raids, but no visual signs of violence to people. That said, I stand by it as family friendly.

What are you waiting for? Go watch it!

VERDICT: 5 / 5

Pros:

  • Great and unique story
  • Master design
  • Great characters

Cons:

  • Some elements lost in translation
  • Slow start
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.