back on this 3 days before Christmas with another edition of the “12 Days of Ghibli”, today’s feature film: Howl’s Moving Castle. Originally released in 2002, Howl showcases Ghibli’s talents given more modern animation technology, and a plot filled with witches, wizards, and magic is exactly what Ghibli thrives on when it comes to stunning visuals.
Howl’s Moving Castle follows the tale of an 18-year-old, plain-looking girl, Sophie, as her life gets turned upside down the day a wizard lends her a hand on her way to the bakery. Unbeknownst to her, this wizard was being sought by a nasty witch, how decided to take her anger out on Sophie, cursing her with old age, and removing her ability to tell anyone about it. Afraid of what others would say, she runs away from home, heading toward the Waste, an area known for its wizard and witch inhabitants. There, she stumbles upon the magic castle on legs, belonging to a wizard named Howl, his apprentice, Markl, and a fire demon who powers the castle, Calcifer.
The film follows this misfit family’s misadventures as Howl must use his magic to protect them from the king’s sorcerer, whom was out to remove all the rogue witches and wizards in the kingdom. At first simply searching for a way to life her own curse, Sophia ultimately lifts the curses from others, and helps Howl to finally learn to stop running and hiding, and standing up for those he wants to protect.
Not as theme-filled or transcendental as some other Ghibli films, Howl’s Moving Castle is more of a simple fairy tale story of an average girl swept into a magical journey where she finds herself not only dealing with her own problems, but also being able to solve larger problems as well. Recommended on a similar basis as Spirited Away, while, at its core, a children’s movie, there’s no reason for an adult to enjoy it as well.
Until next time,