Howl's Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004)
Not being a fan of mangas at the first place didn't tend me to discover the work of Asian animation. Having only seen Hayao Miyazaki's Alice in Wonderland inspired Spirited Away in the context of my journey through the 1000 Greatest Films of They Shoot Pictures Don't They?. I liked Spirited Away but I wasn't blown away by it. Since I decided to make parallel quests to the "1000GF TSPDT" I wanted to explore the 35+/- films I haven't seen yet voted by the users of IMDb. There are more than one Animation listed there, especially the ones from Miyazaki: Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro , Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle. So the later one was the first I decided to watch, well the plot seemed the most interesting and I had to start somewhere I guess.
The story: a young woman, Sofi is a hat tailor that works hard for the factory of his deceased father. One day she meets a strange but attracting sorcerer. But later that night, a witch put a spell on her and she pass from 18 to 70 years old. But she must not tell anyone. The next day she quits the town and embarks on a journey on the moving castle of the sorcerer Hauru. Helped with a scarecrow, a demon fire named Calcifer, and a little boy Markl.
As we are in an animation film, I must say that Miyazaki's visuals are very colored and candy for the eye. The colors are saturated and the contrast are strong in the colors. I kind of find them very cheesy and maybe too poppy... I'd like to see a darker palette but Asian animation is all about blazing colors. However, with that aside some of the visuals are stunning and they fit perfectly well with that kind of fantastic story.
I would have loved Howl's Moving Castle as a child, because I was very entertained by stories that take the character from its normal human life and change it drastically into some "crazy" but lovable universe. It's like when I was reading comic books as a child I always liked how a story can take you anywhere in a world completely different from our reality. And I think that is well executed with Howl's Moving Castle and it changes from the lately vast offering of animation movies that just don't have the same hold onto their stories and constantly use the same patterns over and over again.