Anime Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Studio/Creator: Hayao Miyazaki (based on the book Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne Jones)

Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes

Suggested Age: 10+ (MPAA Rating: PG)

My Rating: 9/10

Summary: Sophie is a quiet girl working in a hat shop with her mother when she discovers that a wizard named Howl is infatuated with her.  One day, the Witch of the Waste comes to her shop and disrespects her.  When Sophie relents, the Witch places a spell on her, rapidly advancing her age.  Sophie realizes Howl is the only one who can break the spell. But will he even help her?

Review: This is, in my opinion, one of Ghibli’s most underrated pictures.  The movie has rich animation and detail, particularly on the titular castle and on Calcifer, the fire demon who slavishly controls Howl’s castle.

Sophie is one of my favorite Miyazaki heroines. I admired her spunk from the very start of the movie, when she dares to stand up to the Witch of the Waste. Even after she succumbs to the spell, she retains her courage.

Howl is a great character too. He’s very mischievous and childish, but in an enjoyable way.  Sophie doesn’t stand for his actions either, creating an amusing relationship.

The ending, which I won’t spoil, feels quite rushed.  This is really the only flaw in the movie.

Sub/Dub: I strongly suggest the dub. It has great performances by Lauren Bacall and Christian Bale. Billy Crystal steals the show as Calcifer.

Music/Score: Pretty good. Joe Hisaishi composed another good score here.

Violence: (4/10) Very mild at best.

Language: (0/10)

Sexuality: (0/10)

Nudity: (1/10) It’s barely worth mentioning, but there’s a scene where Howl is in a towel because he’s taking a bath.

Religion: (4/10) Howl and the Witch of the Waste both use magic, but it’s not done through rituals, it’s more fairy-tale like.

Related Media:  This is based on the book Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne Jones.


  1. #1 by hawkeye on March 23, 2012 - 10:44 pm

    This is one of my all time favourite Miyazaki movies. I agree though with the end feeling a bit rushed. It would be nice if it followed the book a bit more (in my opinion). But, it is still a wonderful movie. Calcifer is still my favourite character both in movie and book 8D

  2. #2 by sweetpea616 on March 24, 2012 - 2:32 am

    What a lot of people don’t like – and I didn’t like, either – is that the war is supposed to be a very big part, is talked about all the time, but is really poorly connected to the rest of the plot. There were also other elements of the plot that were really rushed or came out of nowhere (such as the scarecrow that turned out to be a prince. Came out of nowhere).

    What I didn’t personally care for is how the romance between Howl and Sophie was set up. I don’t see how or why they would have a chance to grow, but one moment they’re just friends and the next *BAM* they’re in love.

    Something that you probably should have mentioned is how Sophie grows and changes, and how her physical appearance mirrors/mimics it. It’s one of the biggest and most obvious insights into her character and how she grows, especially since she starts out as the blandest heroine I’ve come across in a while.

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