Howl’s Moving Castle

Tonight we watched Howl’s Moving Castle, a Studio Ghibli film where an evil witch turns a servant girl at a milliner’s shop into an old crone and – well, it’s not worth trying to describe too much what’s going on. There are demonic pigeons, a sentient scarecrow, all manner of teleportation hijinks and a man who turns into a bird. And those are just some of the reasonable parts. When sensible Japanese people stop being reasonable, they really stop being reasonable. 

So that was a nice way to spend the evening. It’s a shame that there is so much conflict and carnage in the film otherwise it might be suitable for La Serpiente to watch, but I don’t think it’s good for a three-and-a-half-year-old. No matter how much you like fantastic WWII re-enactments. 

The only other Studio Ghibli films I’ve seen are Tottoro (the one with Tottoro in it) and Spirited Away (the one with parents that turn into pigs in it). I’ve heard of Princess Mononoke, which coincidentally was in cinemas the first summer I spent in Japan, but I never saw that. Maybe if I’d not been crashing my bicycle into trees I would have done. 

So that’s Studio Ghibli for you. I don’t think I’ve seen such beautiful anime elsewhere, even if the plot is enough to make you slam your head in a door in utter confusion. But a good couple of hours to spend, anyway. 


4 responses to “Howl’s Moving Castle”

  1. Ah, were you in Japan in 2001 then? That’s when I moved to Tokyo and I remember that all of the kids were insanely into this movie called Sen to Chihiro. I don’t think I knew that it was called Spirited Away until I saw it on DVD at some point. I remember there being lots of posters for this animation and thinking I should check it out. But, shamefully, rather than heading off to see this, the first film I watched in a Japanese cinema was … Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor. OK … I know. I went to Japan and spent half of my life in an English pub, TGI Fridays or McDonalds, then when I do get the chance to absorb something cultural I head straight for Hollywood blockbusters. Took me two years before venturing out of the Toyko/Yokohama area, to check out Koyoto. The only thing I remember about Peal Harbor was that I thought the only thing good about the film was Kate Beckinsale (not her acting talents mind). I also remember feeling angry, after the film and pushing past a bunch of arms-crossed nippons who were in my way as I tried to leave the cinema. I remember feeling righteous indignation, even though I’m not American and now know from a recent C4 documentary that Naval Intelligence, Churchill and Truman all knew dammed well that an attack on the islands was coming.

    The next movie I saw there was Lord of the Rings, the first one in 2001, and I watched it alone but I do remember a kind of murmuring in Japanese after the film finished. It would appear that they were upset that it ended so stupidly. I guess they didn’t quite realised, or it was lost in the translation, that there would be two more movies to come! Imagine, thinking that it ended with Frodo and Sam up a volcano.

    I can recommend Ponyo or Arrietty for young children, they’re quite sweet.

    • Oh no, that was way back in 1997 when I had a month of wandering around Japan, staying in capsule hotels, ending up in an ambulance after crashing a mountain bike, all the glamourous stuff. I suppose Pearl Harbour was (kind of) about Japanese culture, insofar as Mitsubishi Zeroes are part of that…

  2. When Marnie Was There would be suitable for young children. We watched that last week and I was quite surprised and disappointed at how undisturbing it was. (Your above description is more how I envisage Studio Ghibli.)
    Mind you, whether any film at all is suitable for young children is a moot point, 2 hours is a long time for an under 5 year old to sit still. The first film mine ever watched all the way through was Monsters Inc and I was again surprised when this occurred.

    • Well, I got La Serpiente to watch all of Trolls, but only because she was being fed copious volumes of potato-based snacks from the 45th minute through to the end…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.