Sophie, a quiet girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. The vain and vengeful Witch of the Waste, jealous of their friendship, puts a spell on Sophie. In a life-changing adventure, Sophie climbs aboard Howl’s magnificent flying castle and enters a magical world on a quest to break the spell.
Studio Ghibli’s quality of animation is top notch in this film. Throughout, Sophie gradually morphs between her true self and a bent grandmother. The story is enjoyable and full of rich details. The characters are likable, strong willed (in the case of Sophie) and multi-dimensional. Even the villain has a soft side and isn’t totally evil. Ghibli makes films for both adults and children to enjoy. Howl’s Moving Castle has tender moments that warm the heart and lighthearted childhood antics that bring up soft memories.
In every Ghibli film, Hayo Miyzaki seeks to shed light on a specific theme. Howl’s Moving Castle speaks about the terrors of war on the people and environment. War literally makes men into monsters as wizards give up their humanity to become powerful machines of destruction. The story also focuses on how important the hearts of people are despite appearances. We are only as young and beautiful as we think and act.
Howl’s Moving Castle is animation and story telling at it’s best. The animation is fluid and rich. The colors are vibrate. Unfortunately, the characters and areas (outside of Howl’s Castle) lack detail but the wonderful animation more than makes up for the lack of detail. The dialogue is crisp and lacks distracting awkward phrases or sentences. Howl’s Moving Castle, like most of Studio Ghibli’s works, shows us how compelling animation and story telling can be.