[[quoteright:290:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/s_Moving_poster_3405.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:290:On her way to find herself a wizard.]]

->''Well, a heart's a heavy burden.''
-->-- '''Sophie'''

''Howl's Moving Castle'' (ハウルの動く城 ''Hauru no ugoku shiro'') is a 2004 AnimatedAdaptation of Diana Wynne Jones' novel ''[[Literature/HowlsMovingCastle Howl's Moving Castle]]''. It was directed by Creator/HayaoMiyazaki and made at StudioGhibli, which accounts for the many lovely visuals in the movie. Now, instead of a MedievalEuropeanFantasy, the land of Ingary is a {{Steam Punk}}/{{Gaslamp Fantasy}} world filled with both technology and magic.

The story starts roughly same way as the book. During a fantasy equivalent version of WorldWarI, a young girl by the name of Sophie works as a hatter and deals with massive insecurity problems. After an encounter with the wizard Howl, she attracts the attention of the petty Witch of the Waste, who lays a curse on Sophie, [[OvernightAgeUp abruptly making her physically 90 years old]]. Though rather accepting of her new age, which Sophie finds to fit her personality better, she still sets out to find Howl and break the spell. An [[AnimateInanimateObject animate scarecrow]] she calls "Turnip Head" leads her to Howl's eponymous castle, where she makes a deal with fire demon Calcifer to break each other's curses under the guise of becoming Howl's cleaning lady. She also meets Howl's apprentice, a young boy named Markl. Meanwhile, Howl is playing the role of a rogue wizard, doing his best to try and halt both sides of the raging war in the background, but the transformations that he uses in order to fight (into an enormous birdlike figure) are bringing him closer and closer to losing his humanity.

During the making of the film, Hayao Miyazaki was very upset over the US invasion of Iraq, resulting in a strong anti-war message being added into the film. The main theme, however, remains the relationship between Howl and Sophie and [[CharacterDevelopment how it mends the both of them]] - turning Sophie's insecurity into strength and Howl's aloofness into a desire to protect and love. Due to a great many details and several underlying storylines for minor characters, the movie can be a bit hard to follow at first - this very thing also allows for the audience to discover new things upon each repeat viewing.

The film focuses on both Sophie and Howl's romance as well as the war plaguing their nation. Unlike the original, which was an AffectionateParody of fairy tales, the film is a straight-as-the-monster-crow-wizard-flies fairy tale itself.

The writer of the original book, Dianne Wynne Jones, was granted a private viewing of the movie by Miyazaki. She stated that she enjoyed it, and found it a very different (but complimentary) experience from her book.
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!!This film contains examples of:

* AdaptationalVillainy: Suliman is a more benevolent and less antagonistic character in the book, and was also cursed by the Witch of the Waste. His film counterpart inherits her role as Howl's mentor from another character, Mrs. Pentstemmon, a kindly figure in the book who the Witch murdered.
* AdaptationExplanationExtrication: Calcifer being OK after [[spoiler:Howl gets his heart back]], Howl's reasons for [[spoiler:catching a falling star in the first place]], and other details are left out of the movie from the original book. Although the reason for the deal is pretty obvious from that sequence. [[spoiler:The falling stars shaped like people, die when they hit the ground/lake.]]
* AuthorAppeal: A lot of Miyazaki's favorite staples were added to the film. Even one of his favourite actresses, Lauren Bacall, has a role in the dub.
* BeautifulDreamer: Howl watching Sophie while she sleeps [[spoiler: hint that the curse is already broken but Sophie is renewing it.]]
* BerserkButton
** Don't ask Grandma Sophie if she's working for the Witch of the Waste, Markl.
** When Howl's hair is accidently coloured [[RedHeadedStepchild orange]]... boy, does he freak out!
* {{Bishonen}}: Howl [[spoiler:and Turniphead when he turns back into a human]].
* BodyHorror: Wizards who fight in the war end up remaining as bat-like ''things'', forgetting who they really are. Even Howl is undergoing a painful transformation into a nightmarish parody of a monstrous raven.
* BoyfriendBluff: Sophie first meets Howl when he pulls this to rescue her from being harrassed by a couple of soldiers. It gets the soldiers off her back, but has the unintended side-effect of exposing her to the interest of the Witch of the Waste.
* CantLiveWithoutYou: If Calcifer dies, so does Howl.
* CanineCompanion: Hin/Heen
* TheCasanova: Howl is one according to gossip by the townsfolk. However it's implied that GossipEvolution occurred. Sophie's sister was genuinely terrified when she found out Sophie met a wizard because "If he were Howl he would rip out [her] heart and devour it."
* CharacterDevelopment
** Sophie's is a bit subtle. At first when she's turned into an old woman, she hunches while she walks, uses a cane and is very slow, needing a break every so often. As the film moves along, she begins standing up straighter with her stamina increasing until eventually she doesn't need it anymore. This echoes her low sense of self worth as the film begins. [[spoiler: This is also highlighted by how she turns younger whenever she feels confident. She ends up breaking the curse completely by the end of the film and transforms back into her younger self]].
** Howl gets this as well. At the beginning of the movie, he acts in a very mysterious and flirtatious manner, behaving like an experienced lover when he charms Sophie. As the movie goes on, he starts to behave in a more open and natural way around her, until he is willing to act responsibly and fight off the enemy planes to protect his "family".
* CompositeCharacter: Madame Suliman, Howl's mentor and the court magician, is two separate characters in the original book: Mrs. Pentstemmon (his mentor, deceased) and Master Sulliman (the court magician, very much alive -- and male).
* ContinuityNod:
** When Calcifer moves the house, the design he briefly changes to (truly ''demonic'' looking and blueish) is Calcifer's form in the original book. As well, the English dub makes references to lines from the original book, such as Calcifer's "Here's another curse: May all your bacon burn." Some other minor details, such as Howl cracking eggs one-handed, are also straight out of the book.
** In a more roundabout way, the war that is an important event in the movie is little more than an off-hand background comment in the book, if it was even mentioned at all. The second book in the series, however does have a prominent war.
* CoolOldLady: Sophie's pretty tough when aged.
* CreepyChild: Downplayed -- Madame Suliman's page boys are all perfectly pleasant, but all oddly flat, and there's ''something'' odd about the way they're not only identical to each other, but strongly resemble a younger Howl.
* {{Curse}}: The Witch of the Waste's rapid aging curse is what starts the plot
* CursedWithAwesome: Sophie's old age curse is genuinely unpleasant, but it does help her to come out of her shell. She's quite philosophical about it for the most part, quipping that her aging-up means that her rather unfashionable clothes now finally suit her and that aging has apparently made her smarter. It also gives her the confidence to stand up to Howl, who now seems young and immature to her rather than imposing as he was when they first met.
* DarkerAndEdgier: The book has war being threatened. The film? War is happening and all magic users are being summoned to fight.
* DarkIsEvil: Howl's transformations into a near-black bird-monster are destroying him, even when he does have a genuinely good reason to fight.
* DirtyOldWoman: The Witch of the Waste.
* DoggedNiceGuy: [[spoiler:Turniphead, albeit you only fully realize that after knowing the final twist.]]
* EvilPlan: Averted. Unlike the book there is no clear villainous plot because [[spoiler: The Witch of the Waste is depowered half-way through by Suliman who isn't truly a villain.]]
* FiveManBand: By the end of the movie Howl, Sophie, Markl, and [[spoiler: the Witch of the Waste]] are all working together. See TheLeader, TheLancer, TheBigGuy, TheSmartGuy, and TheChick for more detail.
* FlightOfRomance: When Howl first encounters Sophie.
* FlyingCar: A SteamPunk take on the trope.
* FoodPorn: Oh, yes. The eggs and bacon in this film are beautiful.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Watch the scene where Sophie is cleaning out the ashes, and Calcifer falls into the metal cup and almost goes out. When Howl is breathing on Calcifer to get him going again, you can see [[spoiler:Howl's heart beating in Calcifer's flames.]]
%%* GaslampFantasy
* GhibliHills: [[StudioGhibli Natch]].
* GiantPoofySleeves: Sophie's mother wears a dress with these when she first appears.
* {{Gonk}}: The Witch of the Waste after her beauty spell is drained.
* GorgeousPeriodDress: Many outfits are fancy and colorful. It's all as pretty as the scenery. Unless it's Sophie's wardrobe.
* GratuitousGerman: In the background of one scene is a recruiting poster that says "''Mut und Willeskraft''" ("Courage and Strength of Will").
* HappilyEverAfter: [[spoiler: The final shot of the film is Sophie and Howl on the balconey of the flying castle and share a kiss.]]
* HighCollarOfDoom: Madame Suliman's dress has a high collar, although she's more antagonistic than outright villainous (although no less dangerous).
* IAmNotPretty: Sophie insists she isn't beautiful, through the movie she gains more confidence in herself.
* [[IHaveYourWife I Have Your Husband]]: [[spoiler: Madame Suliman holds Sophie's stepfather (whom she's never met) hostage, forcing Sophie's mother to betray her by planting a Peeping Bug in the castle.]]
* InsecureLoveInterest: Sophie to Howl. She's very insecure about how she looks and acts, and her "old age" spell fades when she's at her least self-conscious, or when she's feeling brave and confident. She becomes younger when she waxes rhapsodic to Madame Suliman about Howl's courage and integrity, but all it takes is for Madame Suliman to say "You're in love with him, aren't you?" to make Sophie cringe and age at once to a crone again.
* InterClassRomance: Sophie and Howl; hat shop worker and a SelfMadeMan.
* KnightOfCerebus: Madame Sulliman who manages to reduce the Witch of the Waste into an old woman and tries to impale Howl and Sophie.
* LadyOfBlackMagic: Madame Suliman and the Witch of the Waste cast spells.
* LadykillerInLove: Howl can be described as one. Another nod to the book where he's even more so, though that is partially Sophie's fault. [[spoiler:She has latent magic that allows her to bring inanimate objects to life, and accidentally sews her love for Howl into the outfits of his she mends. Cue mass amounts of girls falling for him.]]
* LightIsNotGood: As the Witch of Waste learned, magical lamps are the polar opposite of "good". To a lesser extent Suliman as well -- she sits in a conservatory, lit brilliantly by sunlight and surrounded by thriving plants, and she appears the very image of benevolence and wisdom.
* MasterOfDisguise: Howl can disguise himself as anyone which is to be expected of a Wizard of his caliber.
* MeaningfulBackgroundEvent / FreezeFrameBonus: When Sophie and Howl are escaping the capital on the airplane, a group of soldiers are seen in the street below shooting at what look like protesters. This is never mentioned again, so it's possible it was just background filler. Or it could be the reason why at the end Suliman asks for the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense, [[LaResistance rather than the King]].
* MysticalHighCollar: Madame Suliman's dress has a high collar, and she's the royal sorcerer.
* MysticalWhiteHair: Sophie towards the end. Howl even provides the quote for the main page.
* NeverMessWithGranny: [[LadyOfBlackMagic Madame Suliman, the Witch of the Waste]] and [[CoolOldLady old Sophie.]]
* NiceHat
** Sophie's mother's hat had ''little cannons'' on it!
** Averted with Sophie's hat, despite her attachment to it.
-->'''Howl:''' You're going to wear that hat? After I used all of that magic to make your dress look pretty?
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Downplayed. When [[spoiler: the Witch of the Waste]] loses her powers, she appears to go completely senile and helpless -- but she still has a helping of craftiness and all her knowledge of magic. She ''does'' still have her moments of confusion. [[spoiler: Her obsession with capturing Howl's heart is logical once you realize that like Howl, she gave her heart away to a demon and thus has no heart herself. In the end though, she realistically resembles an old lady with dementia.]]
* OminousLatinChanting: When Madame Suliman tries to capture Howl, there are a few seconds of very creepy singing (seriously, it cannot be overemphasized how creepy the singing is) from the sprites that encircle him. Might overlap with IronicNurseryTune.
* PartialTransformation: Howl into a winged bird monster thing.
* PerpetualMolt: Bird!Howl, naturally to show his condition worsening.
* PimpedOutDress: Nothing too elaborate, despite the era, but Madame Suliman's dress shows off with the [[GoldMakesEverythingShiny gold trimmings]], [[EverythingsSparklyWithJewelry jewelry]], and a [[PrettyInMink fur-trimmed collar]].
* PortalDoor: The magic door in the castle leads to far away places [[spoiler: and times.]]
* PortalToThePast: [[spoiler:The black dial on the door]].
* RescueRomance: Sophie becomes attracted to Howl after he rescues her at the beginning of the movie.
* SceneryPorn: The movie is stunning in practically every frame.
* ShapeshifterModeLock: The dark batlike monsters that chase Howl during his flight sequence used to be the other wizards of Ingary, called to fight for the crown; Howl states they've forgotten what they used to be and ''can't'' change back. It's also implied that the same will happen to Howl if he keeps on using his raven form -- he finds it more and more difficult to change back every time.
* SignificantBackgroundEvent: Early in the film, two elderly background characters are heard chatting about the prince of the next kingdom going missing, and how the war is getting worse because of it. It's the only mention of this character in the whole film...[[spoiler: until Sophie breaks the spell on Turniphead, and he's restored to his true form--the missing prince.]]
* SchizoTech: Generic 19th Century clothing and locations, but with [[ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld giant airships]], and of course [[MundaneFantastic magic]].
* SteamPunk: From a distance, the Castle looks like a huffing and puffing mecha.
* StepfordSmiler: Howl. He keeps the charming smile on his face even during some ''very'' inappropriate moments, like when burning the Witch's note, or telling Sophie "You nearly killed my friend."
* TemporalParadox: Howl isn't lying when he scares lecherous soldiers away from Sophie, saying he's been looking for her for a long time. That action, and that search, however, is what drives the Witch of the Wastes to curse Sophie, which drives Sophie to seek out Howl's Castle, eventually diving into the past and telling young Howl to look for her in the future. Which she wouldn't need to do, if he hadn't found her, and bugger me I've gone cross-eyed.
* ThemeAndVariationsSoundtrack: There are maybe three tracks (of 26 total) that don't include the main theme, "The Merry-Go-Round of Life," in some form.
* TheLeader: Howl. It's his castle and his business.
* TheLancer: Sophie because she contrasts Howl's eccentric foppery and takes over as leader when he's not around.
* TheBigGuy: Calcifer is a fire demon that keeps the castle running
* TheSmartGuy: Markl did the day-to-day working of the shop. Downplayed because he's Howl's apprentice.
* TheChick: [[spoiler: Witch of the Waste is TheChick after her HeelFaceTurn because moves the two lovebirds closer together.]]
* ThoseMagnificentFlyingMachines: Many beautiful SteamPunk and MagiTek examples.
* TrashOfTheTitans: In the film we get to see just as filthy the Castle was before Sophie showed up.
* TrueBlueFemininity: Sophie changes from a green dress to a blue one when she goes to seek her fortune. Howl later spruces the dress up with magic to make its color brighter and clearer.
* TrueCompanions: Howl refers to the castle gang as his "family," even though they're all unrelated.
* TrueLovesKiss: Sophie breaks the curse on [[spoiler:Turniphead]] by kissing him, and it is indeed a "kiss from your true love breaks it" kind of spell but as [[spoiler:the Witch of the Waste]] notes, she's already in love with Howl. [[spoiler:Turniphead]] is fine with that, however, as he sees no reason why someone can't have more than one true love over the course of a lifetime. The translators took a bit of liberty with that "true love" wording. The actual line in Japanese translates to "a kiss from someone you love". But then again, it ''literally'' means "beloved person", so some artistic license can be forgiven.
* UtilityMagic: Howl's business is this sort of thing; spells for housekeeping and such for a price.
* VainSorceress
** The Witch of the Waste, who had been using a spell to keep herself young and beautiful. She gets a lot nicer after she stops using her magic.
** To call Howl a Vain Sorcerer is like calling the Arctic a bit chilly. He's so obsessed with looking "beautiful" that his hair accidentally being dyed orange causes him to go into a FreakOut before sliding into a depression. The scene is aptly titled "Drama Queen" on the DVD release. [[WordOfGod Dianna Wynne Jones]] states that they actually made Howl ''less'' of a drama queen in the film.
* {{Wangst}}: An InUniverse example, when Howl throws a tantrum over his hair color - even summoning spirits of darkness and emanating green goo.
-->'''Howl:''' What's the point of being alive if I can't be beautiful?
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Suliman is often this more than an outright villain.
* WingedHumanoid: Howl in his bird-like form, at least early on. His transformation becomes much more monstrous when it goes out of control later in the film.
* ZorroMark: The Witch of the Waste sends Howl a "scorching love note" via Sophie, which falls on the breakfast table when Howl touches it and burns a scorch mark on the table. However, the permanent marking is averted when Howl proceeds to declare the mark "can't be good for the table" and wiped it away with his bare hand.
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