Howl's Moving Castle Movie (2004)
ハウルの動く城 (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro)


Sophie Hatter, the eldest of three, is apprenticed to make hats for the people of Ingary, a place where spells, magic cloaks, and seven-league boots exist. She and all the young girls are warned to stay inside or be taken by Howl, the evil wizard whose black castle can be seen moving through the hills. After an encounter with a witch and with a spell cast on her to make her an old woman, Sophie goes to seek adventure. She heads towards Howl’s moving castle where she will encounter things she had never imagined.
Directed by
Written by
Screenplay by
Music by


  • The overall rating of the show.

Poor < Fair < Good < Great


  • Animation quality and consistency for that time. 

Poor < Fair < Good < Great


  • How well the story flows and keeps you engaged.

Poor < Fair < Good < Great


Character design
Character development
World building




Howl’s Moving Castle is loosely based on the 1986 novel of the same name by British author Diana Wynne Jones. The film was produced by Toshio Suzuki, animated by Studio Ghibli and distributed by Toho.

Influenced by Miyazaki’s opposition to the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, the film contains strongly anti-war themes. Miyazaki stated that he “had a great deal of rage about [the Iraq war],” which led him to make a film which he felt would be poorly received in the US. It also explores the theme of old age, depicting age positively as something which grants the protagonist freedom. The film contains feminist elements as well and carries messages about the value of compassion.

In 2013 Miyazaki said the film was his favorite creation, explaining “I wanted to convey the message that life is worth living, and I don’t think that’s changed.” The movie is thematically significantly different from the book; while the book focuses on challenging class and gender norms, the film focuses on love, and personal loyalty and the destructive effects of war.

Howl’s Moving Castle had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on the 5th of September 2004 and was theatrically released in Japan on 20 November 2004. The film received critical acclaim, particularly for its visuals and Miyazaki’s presentation of the themes.

Alternative titles

– Howl no Ugoku Shiro
– Howl`s Moving Castle
– ハウルの動く城
– A vándorló palota
– Castelul umblător al lui Howl
– Das wandelnde Schloss
– Det levande slottet
– Det levende slot
– El Castillo Ambulante
– Haulo burtai: Keliaujanti pilis
– Howli liikuv kindlus
– Il castello errante di Howl
– Le château ambulant
– Liikkuva linna
– Pokretni dvorac
– Ruchomy zamek Hauru
– Yürüyen Şato
– Zámek v oblacích
– Замъкът на Хаул
– Ходячий замок
– הטירה הנעה
– Det levende slottet
– El Increíble Castillo Vagabundo
– O Castelo Andante
– O Castelo Animado
– Čarovnik Howl in gibljivi grad
– Το Κινούμενο Κάστρο
– قلعه متحرک هاول
– 哈尔的移动城堡
– 哈爾移動城堡
– El castillo errante de Howl
– Hauru no Ugoku Shiro
– Howl`un Yürüyen Şatosu
– Howlov putujući dvorac
– Keliaujanti Haulo Pilis
– Lâu đài di động của Howl
– Движещият се замък на Хоул
– Замок-мандрівник
– Мандрівний замок
– Рухомий замок Хаула
– قلعة هاول المتحركة

TL;DR Review

Howl’s Moving Castle (Japanese: ハウルの動く城 Hepburn: Hauru no Ugoku Shiro) is a 2004 Japanese animated, fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

Sophie, our main female lead, started already a reliable and self-sufficient person. She is a bit of an old soul at heart and seems to be burden by a sense of responsibility. She doesn’t develop much in the movie, other than falling in love with Howl. Howl seems to have grown more over the same period, but we don’t see much from his side so it does feel rushed.

Similar to many of Studio Ghibli previous works, we have a fish out of water story. Sophie adjusts to her predicament abnormally well. Sophie also met many figures that help her along her path. Unlike in Spirited Away and The Cat Returns, Sophie isn’t a passive character that was being led along a path. She took many of the initiatives herself.

The world is a fusion of steampunk technology and magic element. We see a lot of these types of difference in the movie. Seldom we see sorcery and science goes hand in hand. Another consistent contrast is we jump between the barren spanning landscapes to the overcrowded and cramp cities. You constantly get a sense of wonderment and nostalgia with these contrasts.

The ending song is reminiscent of Porco Rosso’s ending theme.

I highly recommend this movie to everyone. Howl’s Moving Castle contains graphic violence and parental guidance is advised.

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Opening Theme

– “Opening: Jinsei no Merry Go Round”
– “Sekai no Yakusoku” by Baishou Chieko

Closing Theme

– “Ending: Sekai no Yakusoku – Jinsei no Merry Go Round” by Baishou Chieko



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Photo by Nicolas LB, Jon Flobrant, and Yvette de Wit on Unsplash.

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