Moving castle draws praise

In 2004, Hayao Miyazaki recreated Diana Wynne Jones’ novel “Howl’s Moving Castle” by turning it into one of my favorite animated movies. Miyazaki captured Howl’s selfishness and Sophie’s selflessness perfectly.

Before I continue, I must warn that there will be spoilers.

This is a story of a young girl, Sophie, who was placed under a spell and leaves her home to journey to the Waste to have the spell removed. She instead finds Howl’s moving castle and decides to stay to help break the fire demon, Calcifer, and Wizard Howl’s spell in exchange for Calcifer breaking hers.

In the movie, you can see the personality behind each and every character. Even the background characters were shown the utmost care. That is a good thing because many of the details play important roles later in the film.

For instance, at the beginning, we see Sophie sitting in a room sewing a hat at a hat shop and then later in the film, Howl moves the castle to the now closed hat shop and gifts Sophie with the same room — only now it’s a bedroom. There is also the fact that Howl returns to the hairstyle he had as a child when he met Calcifer after he meets Sophie showing that he has regained his ability to feel positive emotion.

In the book, everything described is portrayed in the film almost exactly the same. Miyazaki’s excellent attention to detail makes it possible to discover new things with every viewing. An added bonus is that every vibrant color adds to the excitement of war and magic. Every outline and perfectly placed shadow shows the depth of field.

The casting of the voice actors matches the details from the book almost flawlessly. Howl’s voice is deep and strong while Sophie’s is soft and sweet. You can even hear the young age behind Markl’s voice and the old age in the Wicked Witch of the Waste’s.

Speaking of the varying ages, the animation also reflects the characters’ respective ages. Howl’s young apprentice, Markl, seemingly moves across the screen with barely contained energy. The Wicked Witch of the Waste, who casts a spell on Sophie, smoothly yet slowly snails along.

I could go on and on about how amazing the casting is, the animation, the attention to detail but basically, what I’m saying is for you to just do everyone a favor and buy or rent one of the greatest animated films ever.