Review and Synopsis by Anime Girl
Howl no Ugoku Shiro aka Howl’s Moving Castle Review by AnimeGirl.io
The movie starts with Sophie, who is a better, who heads to the bakery to visit her sister Lettie. On the way, she encounters wizard named Howl. In a strange turn of events, the meeting between Howl and Sophie angers the Witch of the Waste. The Witch of the Waste enters the hat shops and turns Shopie into a 90 year old woman. The curse also prevents Sophie from explaining her condition but leaves to find a cure at Howl’s castle.
It’s discovered that the Witch of the Waste is in love with Howl. She wants to capture Howl after seeing him interact with Sophie.
As she begins her adventure to find a cure, she meets a scarecrow named Turnip Head. Sophie pulls from from the bush in which he fell. He gives her a cane and tries to help her find a place to stay.
Sophie finds the moving castld and enters it. She then meets a enchanted Fire Demon named Calcifer. Calcifer powers the castle and is the one who moves it. He is a living ball of fire with eyes and a mouth. He notices that Sophie’s presence as a 90 year old women is a curse though he is not very friendly to Sophie.
Calcifer himself has a contract with Howl. Calcifer is a falling star who Howl managed to catch. He claims to have the power to break Sophie’s curse. Calcifer doesn’t want to work for Howl. Howl expects Calcifer to identify demons approaching the castle and Calcifer doesn’t want to.
He tells Sophie he can break her curse if she helps end his contract with Howl. During their encounter, Sophie tells Howl she is the castle’s cleaning lady who was hired by Calcifer.
At the same time, a war is beginning in Sophie’s home country. One realm’s crown prince is missing causing a potential fight between the two. The war begins to move into Sophie’s country. The king summons Howl to use his magic to assume a variety of people’s identities to fight the war. Howl instead sends 90 year old Sophie to go pretend to be his mother and tell the King he is a coward who would be useless.
Sophie is still at the castle. She encounters Heen, who is the castle’s errand dog. She thinks the silent dog is Howl in disguise and begins talking to it.
The Witch of the Waste shows up at the castle. She finds a place to sit down and finds that her magical powers have been removed by Suliman. Suliman has also removed the Witches memories. Sophie learns Heen is actually owned by Suliman, and Suliman has many servants. Suliman is sinister. She is the King’s Royal Sorcerer and hunts down wizards and witches for service in the army.
Suliman threatens Sophie that she will do the same to Howl if he doesn’t help with the car. Sophie needs Howl’s help to become normal again and won’t be able to help with her curse.
Suliman has not been fooled. She has feelings of strong affection toward Howl. She doesn’t want to replace Howl and wants his help. Suliman tries to entrap Howl but Sophie and Howl escape.
Sophie learns that Howl is able to transform into a bird like creature that can interfere with the war. The problem is that the transformation is difficult to undo and he may not be able to return to human form to save Sophie. Suliman has gained control over Sophie’s mother and sent a peeping bug in a bag to see what’s happening. The Witch destroys it by tossing it into Calcifer, who becomes sick and can’t conceal the castle.
Sophie’s city is than bombed by enemy aircraft while Suliman’s henchmen invade her hat shop. Howl arrives to draw guards away after healing Calcifer. He tells Sophie he won’t run away because he wants to protect her from the war.
Sophie has a need to save Howl and the castle and makes everyone leave. She also removes Calcifer, which destroys the castle. She gives him some of her hair as fuel to keep some power n the castle. They are headed toward Howl when the former Witch discovers Howl’s heart in Calcifer. Sophie drenches Calcifer to make the heart free, making Calcifer lose power. The castle splits and Sophie and Heen fall into a hole.
Sophie finds her way to Howl’s heart. She enters a door into his childhood. She sees that when Howl caught Calcifer, Howl eats Calcifer who has his heart when he was young.
Unfortunately, Howl has lost his human form and is still a board. Sophie finds the witch and asks for Howl’s heart. She gives it back and places the heart back to Howl. He resurrects and frees Calcifer. She also kisses the scarecrow who is revealed to be the cursed and missing Price.
Howl, Sophie, and others fly home in the moving castle. The story ends fairly well and has a fairly simple plot about avoiding war and love lost through the power of magic, to be regained through expression. Subtle and major changes happen when characters express themselves. The Witch loses her power pursuing Howl as she is exposed to sunlight and Suliman. Suliman has the power to end the war that has come as a result of the Prince.
Sophie works as a seamstress at her family’s store is a hatter. She is changed into a 90 year old by the Witch of the Waste and meets Howl while trying to get cured. She develops feelings for Howl, who was once a striking young man. He becomes a more positive, bold character with her around, too.
Sophie is one of three kids and has a prettier and more popular sister in Lettie. Sophie gains more confidence once she is transformed into a 90 year old as she no longer cares about how she looks by comparison. She longer has plain brown eyes and plain brown hair. Howl thinks she is cute.
Her feelings for Howl are known when she is defending him to Suliman. She temporarily regaines her original Sophie appearance. She turns back after she stops speaking with her true feelings.
Sophie is generally gentle, quiet and responsible. She doesn’t like attention. She is mature and likes to work. She seems to gain affection for Howl because she needs his help, and he thinks she is beautiful.
Viewers will notice that Sophie’s appearance as an older women changes based on her emotional state. Sophie does not notice the change herself and becomes less wrinkly as she expresses herself more. The movie is trying to imply that expressing yourself might be transformational and make you younger.
Witch of the Waste
The Witch of the Waste has the single goal of taking Howl’s heart. She is obsessed with youth and beauty without having much of either for herself. She dislikes Suliman who removed her from the royal palace.
The Witch became evil after catching a falling star, which became her fire demon. The demon drained her magic and left her evil. The Witch seems jealous with Sophie’s accidental contact with Howl and the way he compliments her.
The Witches age and true abilities are revealed when she has to climb the staircase to Howl’s castle. She becomes old, frail, and ordinary as the sunlight has drained her powers.
The Witch ends the story with no magical powers. She has sacrificed them jealously pursuing Howl and Sophie’s relationship since Shopie showed a liking for Howl too. She also created her own issue by catching a fire demon she knew could turn her evil.
Suliman is Howl’s former master, known as Madame Suliman. She’s older with silver hair who use a wheelchair. She serves the Kingdom’s magic school and the Royal Family.
Suliman is significantly more powerful than Howl but still wishes for his help to fight a war she doesn’t support.
Sulman is also responsible for turning Howl into the bird that he has a difficult time changing from. She may have feelings of both affection and jealousy for Howl because she hoped he would one day replace her position in the Royal Court. Howl never finished his training because his heart was consumed by Calcifre.
She is merciful too. Suliman did not want to start the war over the missing prince. She pursued Howl’s magical powers to help, but ended the war once the actual curse of the prince was discovered. He had turned into a scarecrow.
She seems jealous of the Witch of the Waste too, who also pursues Howl. It’s unclear why she is jealous of the Witch besides her interest in Howl. Sulima is at one point the antagonist in the film when she changes Howl into a bird, blocking Sophie from changing again.
Howl is a wizard who is a good looking young man. He was a talented wizard who fell out of school because he is not very mature and is a bit of a coward. Howl has a contract with Calcifer, the fire demon, who powers his castle and allows it to move.
Throughout the story, Howl is generally a kind character and becomes even better with Sophie. He seems disinterested in both Suliman and the Witch. His motivation seems to be being on his own and avoiding getting into conflict. To most females, Howl might be desireable for his good looks and magical skills, as that seems to be another piece in the Witch and Suliman’s attraction.