Howl’s Moving Castle (2005)
The flick is wonderfully imaginative, as to be expected from Miyazaki. The Pixar people really do an excellent job of bringing these films to an American audience and treat the English dubs with reverence. I’m not someone who’ll bemoan an English dub when it comes to anime but it’s nice to see effort and respect. The story is a bit similar to Princess Mononoke with the warring factions, the mystic and the industrial, and Miyazaki’s refusal to paint in black and white. There are so many delightful touches here from the fire demon to the door portal to one segment that just involves two old ladies ascending stairs for three minutes. And yet it’s the spirit Miyazaki infuses and the attention to story and character that sets his films apart. There’s a genuine sense of magic while watching his films and Howl is no different. The only bit of contention I had with the movie is how abrupt the ending is. Howl’s Moving Castle is a bit soaked with confusion and some narrative cop-outs (“Surprise! I’m the prince responsible for the war!”). I would have loved another 30 minutes in this world as well as a better opportunity for Miyazaki to bring his story down with a smoother landing. Still, saying this is a slightly lesser Miyazaki film is like saying a million dollars is less awesome than 2 million dollars. Howl’s Moving Castle is another sterling addition to a master storyteller.
Nate’s Grade: A-