Howl’s Moving Castle was originally written in 1986 by Diana Wynne Jones, then in 2005 it was adapted by Hayao Miyazaki as an animated movie, making it one of Studio Ghibli’s most famous movie. The story focuses on Sophie after she has a brief run in with the evil wizard Howl who steals girls’ hearts and eats them. After this seemingly normal interaction with the wizard, Sophie returns to her boring life making hats. An evil witch, who has previous interactions with Howl, turns Sophie into an old women. Thinking her age finally suits her, Sophie decides that she doesn’t want her friends and family to see her this way and leaves Market Chipping. In the cold, windy wilds Sophie’s old age is making her tired and the first place she stumbles upon is the wicked Howl’s castle. Once she finally catches up with the moving castle, she meets a boy named Michael and a fire demon named Calcifer. That night Sophie makes a deal with the fire demon to free him from his curse and in return, he will restore her youth.
The characters in Howl’s Moving Castle are brilliant. They work together wonderfully. Sophie is quiet and timid, but in her old age she discovers she’s not really scared of life and she gets very sassy and stubborn. Howl is a fun, playful, arrogant child who flirts with every girl he meets. He’s very vain and prides himself on looking fabulous all the time. The two characters stay the same in both the book and the movie, though in the movie their personalities are very prominent. They seem more extreme in the book.
Calcifer is fairly the same in both the movie and the book. He remains secretly caring, however, in the movie he’s slightly more comical. Michael is the same fun loving boy in both as well, though in the movie he is portrayed as a little boy and in the book he is 15. Michael plays a bigger role in the book where he has more of a side plot and intimate plot-relevant scenes, where as in the movie, while still important, he is mainly a supporting character.
Several of the characters’ roles and motives were changed for the movie. For example, the Witch of the Waste (the witch who turns Sophie old) has much different motivations that are crucial to the plot differences. Two characters from the book were combined to make a single character in the movie and one of Sophie’s sisters was left out.
Both the book and movie versions of Howl’s Moving Castle are phenomenal, however they are very different. While in both the basic plot remains the same, the plot and character motivations vary. There are crucial, interesting plot points in the book that weren’t in the movie leading the movie in a completely different direction. The movie was slightly more kid-friendly.
Since both book and movie are so different it is understandable that people who read the book first may be disappointed in some of the major changes done to the movie. The movie is amazing and it would be a shame if people couldn’t appreciate the beauty and detail that went into it. So, for the first and one time only, it is recommended that the movie is watched first.
Either way Howl’s Moving Castle is a fun story guaranteed to stick with someone forever. It’s inspiring and thought-provoking and lives in the hearts of many. Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways both continue the story of Howl, Sophie, Michael and Calcifer that takes place in the books that completes the trilogy.