From Here to There to Japan One Day

Howl’s Moving Castle

This epic anime is made by Studio Ghibli under Hayao Miyazaki, it was also nominated for the Academy Awards for best animated film in 2004. The anime Howl’s Moving Castle is based upon a young teenage novel, of the same name, written by Welsh author Diana Wynne Jones.

This is my favourite anime movie, simply no contest with anything else. I only knew of it’s existence by watching the trailers on Spirited Away. From the trailer I managed to get the gist of the storyline and I had the good instinct, after initial hesitation, to purchase this exquisite anime movie of perfection. I must admit, I received this anime the weekend before I returned to my studies. I viewed this anime no less that three times in it’s entirety over the time period of twenty four hours. This movie manages to fit in a lot of content, in just hitting the under two hour mark. The main piano theme of Howl’s Moving Castle by Joe Hisashi is simply brilliant. Once I had the end credits piano solo on repeat while I took a snooze, it’s simply an uplifting, soothing melody.

The plot differences between the novel and the anime range from little things such as Markl’s age and name to actual characters not existing. The novel uses a poem by John Donne called “Go, and catch a falling star”, which is utilised for the eventual downfall of Howl. Sophie’s is the eldest of three sisters but the youngest sister, Marta, is never mentioned in the anime. Howl’s romantic entanglements are documented, even his “liaison” with Sophies younger sister Lettie. The Witch of the Waste is portrayed as a young beautiful woman, which is a quite a contrast to the image of her in the anime format. Other characters who feature in important capacities in the novel barely get a cursory mention or are simply not included. The descriptions of the characters are quite vivid, especially when Howl and Markl play pranks on Sophie.


An ordinary young girl who finds herself in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Sophie lives and works in her family’s hat shop, as the eldest she passively resigns herself to the duty of inheriting family business, without any regard for her own feelings. During a weekend festival, she decides to visit her younger sister who works at the bakers. Sophie is whisked away by a mysterious blond man who is being chased. He uses his sorcery to help them evade his pursuers and Sophie escapes unscathed. That night Sophie is cursed into the form of an old woman by the Witch of the Waste. Determined to break the curse upon her, she sets off on her journey. Sophie stumbles across Howl’s Moving Castle where her patience is sorely tested by Howl.


A young sorcerer who created the myth that he eats the hearts of young girls. This is because he loves the thrill of the chase, once he captures the heart of the young beautiful girl he promptly discards her for a more elusive goal. Howl is a very self-centred and childish character, especially when he doesn’t get his own way. I just love his temper tantrum when he discovers that Sophie cleaned out the bathroom and messed up all of his potions. 🙂 He compulsively agrees to let Sophie stay without hesitation, as Calcifer granted her access to the castle. Howl masters the art of persuasion by convincing innocent Sophie into pleading his case in order to forgo his patriotic duty. He rarely, if ever, takes things  seriously in being quite a laid back character.


Calcifer first introduces himself to Sophie as a legendary fire demon. He promises Sophie that he will try to break the curse upon her if she can break the pact between himself and Howl. Unfortunately, he is unable to reveal to her the conditions of the pact, he can only give her indirect hints. The quick wit and jibes from Calcifer provide a source of comic relief. This is especially true when Sophie tries to cook bacon on him, cursing all the while “May all your bacon burn.” Calcifer is also the driving power behind the moving castle, not only that but he also maintains the portals between Porthaven, Kingsbury, and the Waste from within the castle.

I surprised that the amount of Howl’s Moving Castle video with the opening theme were quite scarce. Still, I persevered and so I hope you enjoy! 


6 Responses to “Howl’s Moving Castle”

  1. I fell in love with that movie as well. Wonderful.

  2. @Stephen Howl’s Moving Castle is simply the most brillant anime movie that I have ever seen. Pure enjoyment from the opening to the credits. 🙂

  3. Hi, I’ve also written a review for Howl’s Movie Castle, although not as thorough as your review. You give readers a clear idea of what to expect, and the pictures are a nice touch as well (I tend to be lazy and refrain from adding pictures to my site!). And your other posts look good as well, very informative about Cowboy Bebop (I wish they could’ve made more). Oh well, cheers!

  4. @Rey Thanks for dropping by, I love to hear feedback. Howl’s Moving Castle is simply the best feature length anime. If you like Cowboy Bebop check out Samurai Champloo also by the same director by the name of Shinichiro Watanabe. It’s hailed as the “spiritual sequel” to Cowboy Bebop. Personally, I would put Samurai Champloo on par to Cowboy Bebop as it really is an ass kicking anime. 🙂

  5. Hey, sorry I took so long in responding, but, yeah, thanks for the suggestion. Samurai Champloo looks really good, especially after reviewing your other posts on it. The Fuu video wasn’t working, but the one for Mugen with Snow Patrol was, and hopefully YouTube won’t be taking it down anytime soon, a great find. Thanks again!

  6. @Rey Thanks for the heads up on the problem with the fuu video. I managed to find something short and sweet instead and I think it’s a lot better than the previous one. The Mugen video is one of my fave’s too. I found it by chance and it really is a gem. Samurai Champloo is a definite recommendation. 🙂

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