Characters: Howl's Moving Castle
This page refers to the anime version directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
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Voiced by: Chieko Baisho (JP), Emily Mortimer (US, Young!Sophie), Jean Simmons (US, Old!Sophie)
- Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books, Sophie had strawberry blonde hair. It's changed to brown in the movie.
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the film, Sophie occasionally going young again seemed like a Deus ex Machina. In the book, it's because she's a witch who accidentally did so because she doesn't know she's one.
- Beautiful Dreamer: Howl watches her while she sleeps. In this case, understandable because Sophie is inflicting the curse on herself subconsciously. Thus, the only time it's not active is when she's asleep.
- Berserk Button: Being associated with the Witch of the Waste.
- Brainy Brunette: Initially; she's definitely one of the more intelligent characters in the canon. She later gains Mystical White Hair.
- Cool Old Lady: As a granny, Sophie gains a lot more backbone and sass.
- Cry into Chest: Does it several times to Howl.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: The Witch of the Waste gives her this reaction after Sophie tries to force her out of the store, though it wasn't part of distracting anyone.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Sophie begins the movie with waist-length dark hair done up in a simple braid. She still has the braid after being transformed into an old woman by the Witch of the Wastes, albeit grey and much shorter. However, at the climax of the film, she sacrifices her braid to revive Calcifer (who she'd just realized is Howl's heart), so even after breaking the curse Sophie's hair remains silver and short.
- This is one of the many differences from the original novel. In the book, Sophie's hair was strawberry blonde (i.e. a very light red), and her hair went back to its former colour and style after her curse broke.
- Flight of Romance: Has one with Howl in the beginning where they roof hop on air.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic; largely bored and listless for the bulk of the film.
- Freeing The Genie: She does it to Calcifer by returning Howl's heart to Howl's body.
- Friend to All Children: To Markl, sure, but when a young girl asks her if she's a witch...Sophie: I am the most horrible witch of all! *Slasher Smile*
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Sophie always describes herslef as "ugly" and "dumb".
- I Am Not Pretty: This is why she sub-consciously recasts the old lady spell on herself.
- Important Haircut: She gives up her braid to empower Calcifer.
- Indy Ploy: Her plan to save Howl. Destroying the castle and escaping with only a small part of it to stop Howl from fighting the main battle. It failed because the Witch of the Waste grabbed Calcifer, forcing Sophie to almost kill the demon.
- Inter-Class Romance: With Howl who is a Self-Made Man.
- Kindly Housekeeper: Subverted. She is tough as nails while trying to keep the house clean and doesn't put up with Howl's garbage. She even out-sasses Calcifer.
- Locked into Strangeness: Even after she becomes young again permanently, her hair remains white.
- Love Epiphany: When Madame Suliman tells her "You are in love with Howl, Mrs. Pendragon."
- My God, What Have I Done?: After pouring water over Calcifer.
- Mystical White Hair: The ending has Sophie learning about her own magical powers and retaining her short, grey hair.
- Never Mess with Granny: Seriously, don't. The shy and mousy girl grew a spine when she aged.
- The Power of Love: She uses it to break Turniphead's curse.
- Rapid Aging: Due to the Witch of The Waste's curse.
- Rescue Romance: She meets Howl when he saves her from two soldiers that were coming on to her.
- Shrinking Violet: The townspeople think she's one of these because she spends so much time in the hat store and no time outside with others her age.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Watch her calmly attempt to force the Witch of the Waste out of the hat store.
- Spanner in the Works: To the plans of Suliman.
- Team Mom: A mother figure for the (much younger in the film) Michael and more of a babysitter for Howl.
- Took a Level in Badass: Confronting Suliman certainly counts.
- True Blue Femininity: 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.
- True Love's Kiss: She breaks the curse on Turniphead by giving him a kiss, but she's already in love with Howl. Turniphead is fine with this.
- The Unfavorite: Seems to be one to her mother who arranged greater things for Lettie than 'manage a hat shop'.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Realizing that she can do more than hat making is part of her Character Development.
Voiced by: Takuya Kimura (JP), Christian Bale (US)
- Agent Peacock: He's a pretty prissy narcissist who kicks insane amounts of butt. The narcissism gets better, but he stays quite a girly boy.
- Anime Hair: He changes his hair a lot; both color and style
- Bishōnen: Invoked; he is vain that way.
- Body Horror: His transformation to bird-like thing to fight the armies of the war gets harder everytime.. to be specific, at one point he's going to be unable to turn back.
- Can't Live Without You: If Calcifer dies, so does Howl. This is because Howl outsourced his heart to Calcifer.
- The Casanova: His reputation is a womanizer but in the film the only person he romances onscreen is Sophie. Off-screen romanced the Witch of the Waste and that's it.
- Dark Is Not Evil/Dark Is Evil: His transformations are for a good cause, but the "other Howl" can become very vicious, cruel and animal-like.
- Deal with the Devil: Deal with a demon, to be clear. He gave his heart to Calcifer in exchange for certain powers.
- Decoy Protagonist: Although the movie is called Howl's Moving Castle, it's much more about Sophie than him.
- Defrosting Ice King: Subtly, because he is always flamboyant and "happy", just not genuinely at first.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Only in the movie. After Sophie accidentally rearranged his several dozen hair products, his blond hair turned orange, then later black (the latter being his natural colour). His decision to not re-dye it indicates his increasing willingness to drop his fašade, as well as his growing trust of (and love for) Sophie.
- Gentleman Wizard: Howl is an eccentric magic scholar who lives in a floating castle he made himself and always looks appropriate for polite society.
- Inter-Class Romance: With Sophie, who is a worker in a hat shop.
- Ladykiller in Love: In the film his womanizing is an Urban Legend Love Life because we don't see it. Nevertheless, he's in love with Sophie.
- Love Epiphany: See character quote.
- Master of Disguise: He pretended to be the King and that only reason anyone found out was because the real deal showed up at random and laughed at him.
- Martial Pacifist: He believes the war should end, but will do anything to stop the fighting parties from causing more harm.
- Mr. Fanservice: He's rather shameless about storming up to Sophie wearing nothing but a towel, and he's the only character in the movie to be depicted naked.
- Partial Transformation: The bird thing is a Winged Humanoid.
- Power at a Price: He gave up his heart to Calcifer for more power.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Howl isn't ashamed of wearing a pink longcoat or shirt.
- Refusal of the Call: He refuses to be part of Suliman's King's scheme of having all wizards fight for him.
- Trash of the Titans: His house is filthy and he likes it that way.
- Vain Sorcerer: He Wangsts about having the wrong hair color... yeah.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He fights in the war to destroy as many war ships as possible and diminish the threat the other wizards pose, disregarding loyalty to either side. As he said, it doesn't matter who to support - both are bad.
The Witch of the Waste
The Witch of the Waste
Voiced by: Akihiro Miwa (JP), Lauren Bacall (US)
CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS
- Abhorrent Admirer: To Howl. Though, she eventually does step aside, and even later seems to approve of Howl's relationship with Sophie.
- The Bully: To Sophie. "You are by far the tackiest."
- Deal with the Devil: Like Howl, she sold her heart to a demon and no longer has one of her own.
- De-Power: Suliman de-powers her as a punishment for losing her way and becoming selfish.
- Dirty Old Woman: Post de-powering she spends her time lustingly looking at Howl and making love jokes to Sophie.
- Disproportionate Retribution: She curses Sophie for "standing up" to her.
- Evil Is Petty: In addition to cursing Sophie she threatens the girl with dementia for snarking at her.
- Fat Bitch: Her personality is as repulsive as her enormous rolls of fat.
- Heel-Face Turn: She finalizes it after giving back Howl's heart to Sophie, since she's allowed to live with Howl afterwards.
- No Immortal Inertia: Once she's stripped of her powers, her true age comes back up and reveals her to be at least in her late 70s.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: While genuinely senile, she is still out after Howl's heart when she starts living with him, but she's nice enough to return it to Sophie after some convincing.
- Older Than She Looks: As Suliman reveals.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: "Witch of the Waste" is a title.
- Sixth Ranger: To Howl's family in the end.
- Spared by the Adaptation: In the book, she remains evil and Howl casually takes away her life force in the climax.
- Starter Villain: She curses Sophie but is depowered by Suliman, the true villain.
- Token Evil Teammate: Post de-powering, she is briefly this because she is still in pursuit of Howl's heart.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After she gets de-powered, she's much nicer and friendlier, even if she does try to steal Howl's heart again. Plus, even then, she certainly wouldn't have agreed to give it back so easily if she was anything like the way she was before.
- Villain Decay: After she comes within the vicinity of Suliman (first starting when she has to walk the stairs), she becomes useless.
- Woman in Black: Her slinky black dress is a contrast to Sophie's modest green one.
- Woman Scorned: Howl used to "romance" her until he saw what she really was and ended it. She did not take this well and is still trying to get her revenge on him.
Voiced by: Ryonosuke Kamiki (JP), Josh Hutcherson (US)
- Adaptation Name Change / Recursive Translation: In the book, his name was Michael Fisher. This got translated to "Markl" in the original Japansese release, and the translation carried over back into the English dub of the anime.
- Adorably Precocious Child: He does the hack work in the shop because of Howl's flakiness.
- Age Lift: In the book, he was 15. Here, he seems to be in the 8-12 year old range.
- The Apprentice: To Howl. It includes doing the hack work of the man's business.
- Jabba Table Manners: Sophie was aghast at how he ate and corrected him.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Markl, really? It's extra confusing in Japanese where it's pronounced "Mar-ku-rull".
- Tagalong Kid: Averted. He may be a little kid but he's Howl's apprentice and shop clerk so he has a firm presence on the castle and in the plot.
Voiced by: Tatsuya Gashuin (JP), Billy Crystal (US)
- The Big Guy: Though he is usually confined to his small form, he's the most powerful person in Howl's castle.
- Catch a Falling Star: In a very literal sense - he was a star that fell to Earth and was caught by a young Howl.
- Deadpan Snarker: This is his relationship with Howl and later Sophie; exchanging witty remarks and insults
- Deal with the Devil: With the exception that he is a demon and not malevolent, he made one such deal with Howl to empower him, taking Howl's heart in trade.
- Extreme Omnivore: He eats anything, from wood, to eggshells, to hair.
- Human Resources: He is powered by these. Howl's heart and later Sophie's braid are some of the things given to him.
- I Just Want to Be Free: He wants freedom from Howl and his castle more than anything. When he actually gets it, he returns to Howl and asks to stay as a part of the new family.
- Playing with Fire: Fire demon, Duh-doy.
- Our Demons Are Different: While he does make a Deal with the Devil with Howl to increase his powers in exchange for his heart (rather than his soul, he's far from malevolent, and is actually pretty friendly once you get passed his Deadpan Snarker tendencies.
- Sealed Good in a Can: He's trapped inside Howl's castle because he ate Howl's Heart.
- Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Billy Crystal in the English dub takes this Up to Eleven.
- Soul Jar: He contains Howl's heart, so it's a bit more physical than usual for this trope.
Voiced by: Haruko Kato (JP), Blythe Danner (US)
- Adaptational Villainy: Neither of the characters she was composed from was particularly antagonistic.
- Anti-Villain: She's not "evil", per se, but she is antagonist and her Well-Intentioned Extremist antics are causing war and misery.
- Armor-Piercing Question: To Sophie, though it's more of a statement. "You're in love with Howl, Mrs. Pendragon."
- Big Good: In the end, she stops the war and there is a hint she's overthrowing the foolish king.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: of the Good Is Not Nice variety.
- Composite Character: She is composed of two characters in the book, namely Howl's kindly old mentor and Mr. Suliman, the male head sorcerer of the royal court.
- The Dragon: To the King if you count the King as the main force of the war, but she's more of a Dragon-in-Chief in this case.
- I Have Your Husband: 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.
- Knight of Cerebus: Before her introduction, the film was a light-hearted romp in a cool castle. Then she attempts to steal Howl's magic with creepy shadow things while he's transforming into a bird monster.
- Lady of Black Magic: She conjures familiars made of shadow to do her bidding.
- Let's Get Dangerous: In her attempt to trick Howl and take his power away, she forces him into an illusion world where demons surround him and throws her staff at him, seemingly trying to impale him. Let's get dangerous, indeed.
- Light Is Not Good: As The Witch of the Waste can attest.
- Never Mess with Granny: This old lady has formitable magic and political power.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Both when she de-powers the Witch of the Waste and tries to pull the same thing on Howl.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Says this about Howl, almost word-for-word. She is referring to his action of giving his heart to Calcifer.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: She wants to save Howl from meeting the same fate as the other wizards who couldn't retain their form or lost their way (such as the Witch of the Waste), and she wants to stop the war.
Voiced by: Yo Oizumi (JP), Crispin Freeman (US)
- Animate Inanimate Object: He's a moving scarecrow.
- Baleful Polymorph: He is actually a cursed prince.
- Bishōnen: His delicate good looks rival Howl's.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The beginning of the movie mentions a missing prince as the cause of the war.
- Dogged Nice Guy: To Sophie and averted. When he finds out she's not interested in him, and indeed, interested in someone else, he bows out gracefully.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He jumps in front of the piece of wood Sophie and the rest are on to break their fall. It doesn't kill him, but it whittles his cane down to nearly nothing.
- Hopeless Suitor: Sophie's love (non-romantic love) breaks his spell, but as the Witch of the Waste lampshades, she's already in love with Howl.
- Modest Royalty: The outfit that generates when the spell breaks is stylish but no more than a prosperous merchant could afford.
- The Power of Love: What will break his spell.
- Stalker with a Crush: He keeps following Sophie around because he's in love with her... and True Love's Kiss can break the spell on him.
- Suddenly Voiced: After the spell breaks and becomes human again.
Voiced by: Dajiro Harada
Voiced by: Yayoi Kazuki (JP), Jena Malone (US)
- Everyone Loves Blondes: She's far more popular than Sophie.
- Spoiled Sweet: Implied to the favorite of the sisters but still a Nice Girl.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Unlike Sophie, she really looks like their mother.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Did she survive the bombing? She is never seen again after Sophie meets up with her.
Voiced by: Mayuno Yasokawa (JP), Mari Devon (US)
- Adaptation Name Change: In the book, the only character resembling her is Fanny Hatter, Sophie's dad's second wife, mother to half-sister Martha and stepmother to Sophie and Lettie. While the film calls Honey Sophie's mother, the official artbook actually refers to her as her stepmother like her book counterpart, which would explain why Lettie bears a much stronger resemblance to her than Sophie.
- Abusive Parents: Her only scene, where she talks to Sophie, certainly implies this; working all the time, with the result that she's certainly neglectful, if not deliberately unkind.
- Alliterative Name: Honey Hatter.
- All There in the Manual: Her name.
- It's All About Me: She's off having fun while Sophie does all the work.
- The Mole: For Suliman, when she plants a bug in Howl's house while visiting Sophie. Though in fairness to the woman, it's implied that Madam Suliman is holding her new husband hostage.
- Nice Hat: Tries on a big fancy one.