This is the first anime review I have done and I plan to make it a regular occurrence on Associated Content. Anime is a great inspiration to me as a writer and storyteller and I am paying homage to it by reviewing it. My reviews will be based on system involving a rating of 5 stars, you can figure out the rest from there.
Hayao Miyazaki is arguably one of the greatest storytellers of our generation. Those well versed in his works will agree with me whole heartily. He is the first Japanese filmmaker to win an Academy Award which was for Spirited Away in 2003. I will be reviewing the film Howl’s Moving Castle which preceded it. Howl’s Moving Castle was released quite a while ago in 2004 and I thought to start my anime review I might as well start with a classic film. As good a place to start as any.
The story of Howl’s Moving Castle is as mystical and moving as the castle in the film. A young woman (often the main character in Miyazaki’s films) goes on a massive adventure when she randomly comes across Howl a wizard who has given up his heart to a demon to achieve some remarkable power. This serendipitous encounter between Howl and the main character Sophie causes her to be the target of the Witch of the Wastes who casts a spell on her to age her dramatically. The story unfolds into a typical quest tale with very un-typical characters.
Howl’s Moving Castle demonstrates Hayao Miyazaki’s ability to create completely ambiguous villains, and heroes. Throughout the plot each character is demonized then shined in a positive light by Miyazaki which further establishes that these animated characters are in fact more human then often live action character in motion pictures. Howl and Sophie are demonized in one setting and then humanized in another. The characters are realistically limited in this fantasy setting making them the strongest element of Howl’s Moving Castle.
The setting in Howl’s Moving Castle is not as strong as these human characters, but it is still fantastic in terms of mood. As the story unfolds a war is taking place in the background which highlights the fantasy elements involved in Miyazaki’s setting. The war appears bloody, abstract, and almost wastefull as massive insect like war ships bomb villages almost leisurely. This coupled with the fantastical Moving Castle which is compiled of miscellaneous metal parts that staggers around the foggy fields called the Wastes once again reminds us that the fantasy is out there somewhere in the midst of all this emotion
So overall Howl’s Moving Castle from Hayao Miyazaki is an excellent movie and appealing to the whole family. Despite many people disliking animation this is a must see film for everyone. The extremely human characters mixed with the fantasy setting creates a thought provoking and interesting story. The ambiguity in the roles of characters is immense, you are constantly trying to figure out who is the villain and not. Howl’s Moving Castle consistently reminds us of the nuances of human emotion. No better representation of the moral ambiguity within human beings then the characters in Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle.