Howl's Moving Castle is one of those Japanese animated films that I've always discounted as clearly Not My Thing. I'll be really honest and admit that Moving Castle ended up in my Netflix Q merely because Christian Bale provided the voice of Howl. I have a slightly embarrassing habit of searching out as many of an "interesting" actor's movies as possible. I'm sure you'll forgive me this silly foible. Right? Right?
Whatever brought Howl's Moving Castle to our family is irrelevant; I'm so glad we were allowed the opportunity to view this unusual animated film! My entire family was fascinated all the way thought, even my husband who rarely sits through any movie that doesn't star Jim Varney.
The movie is originally Japanese but has been dubbed in English with well-known actors (Bale, Billy Crystal, Josh Hutcherson). We watched the English version, but I've been told that the Japanese track with English subtitles is very engaging and I do intend to check it out. Despite a Japanese origin, most of the characters look completely European, which I found surprising. The style of animation is not wholly manga (with those inevitable immense eyes), but achieves an engaging and sweeping style.
A loose plot structure makes the story somewhat difficult to follow, but most questions are answered, so give it some time. As I mentioned, the movie mesmerized each member of my family, from my six-year-old daughter to my fourteen-year-old son to my forty-seven-year-old husband. (Although he did proclaim it 'silly' on several occasions, the fact that he sat in the room for ALL of the film speaks volumes.)
The description of the movie involves witches and a fire demon which originally put me off, but having had Moving Castle repeatedly recommended to me, I thought we'd give it a go. For those of you that prefer to avoid mention of witches, demons, spells, and magic, this is not the film for you. If you have a more tolerant view of such topics, I think you'll be pleased at the light-hearted way this is handled. Despite serious difficulties faced by the characters, the magic plays a secondary role to the characters' own strengths and moral fiber.
Charming and sweet enough to please my daughters, yet filled with enough action to satisfy my sons and enough humor for my husband, Howl's Moving Castle is a gem. This is one I'd like to own!