I'd like to think that by now, we've come to a point where I don't have to explain why the name Hayao
Miyazaki, when attached to an upcoming film, fills me with such glee. If I am wrong, hopefully a brief reminder will suffice.
Miyazaki, the man who created "Princess Mononoke" and
"Spirited Away" now brings us "Howl's Moving Castle." And to be honest, I could probably save us all a lot of time by ending
my review here, simply stating that this film did not let me down at all.
Like many of Miyazaki's films, this one features an Ordinary Girl who unexpectadly finds herself on a Magical
Journey with Unlikely Companions (as opposed to those that feature an Extraordinary Girl in similar circumstances). But, like
so many times before, this formula is approached from a fresh angle, and feels entirely new. It is a fantastic tale of wizards
and witches, of love and war, and should be well-received by adults and all but the youngest of children.
Like all of Miyazaki's work, "Howl's Moving Castle" is beautifully drawn. The backgrounds are highly detailed,
the scenes are full of life, and the titular castle - while apparently animated using fairly simple techniques - is truly amazing
to behold. The human characters, as usual, are something of an exception to this. However, the movie features few enough important
human characters that their somewhat bland appearance causes no identification problems.
There are a few points of confusion in "Howl's Moving Castle." Several events either go unexplained, or are
justified by only a single, easily-missed line of dialogue. For instance, most of the movie takes place with the backdrop of a
violent war. The cause of this war is mentioned early on, in the form of background characters discussing the disappearance of
the neighboring nation's prince. Many viewers missed this line entirely, resulting in some confusion about later events. The
good news is that most of these confusing points are minor, and can be easily overlooked in a world suffused with magic and
Unfortunately, it's easy for me to describe the few points I had problems with (such as the somewhat too-
tidy ending, which I must forgive since it is a children's story), and hard for me to describe the fact that I loved everything
else about this movie. It simply has an enchanting quality that makes you love its characters, and care about their ordeals.
Even the villains are in their own way loveable - like many of Miyazaki's recent works, "Howl's Moving Castle" features little
in the way of genuine evil.
And still I haven't done the movie justice, because it is also full of action, humor, drama, and some very
powerful metaphor. I could probably devote a paragraph to the wonders of each, but I wouldn't know where to begin, nor would I
wish to spoil anything with specific examples. Nonetheless, I somehow feel like I'm failing "Howl's Moving Castle" by not writing
page upon page of glowing praise. It really is that good.
I'm sure it surpises no one that I liked "Howl's Moving Castle." And I'll admit that I might be biased
when it comes to Miyazaki. But I feel that I can confidently recommend this movie to anyone and everyone. If you have a heart, I
think you'll love this movie too. And if you don't, maybe you'll be lucky enough to have someone give it back to you.