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Parent reviews for Howl's Moving Castle

Common Sense says

Charming Miyazaki fairy tale with surreal villains.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 35 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 77 reviews
Parent of a 5, 6, and 9 year old Written bymama p July 18, 2010
beautiful and fits with the theme of most of Miyazaki's films: the portrayal of true innocent lustless love. For me this is always a refreshing break from Disney's portrayal of unrealistic cheesy romantic love and sexual innuendos...
Parent Written bymyab October 27, 2010

Beautiful Images, Beautiful Story

A wonderful story about friendship, true love, and war. The heroine is cursed to look old, even though she's young (her outward appearance becomes what her inner self feels). The hero is a sorcerer tasked to work for the king in a war he doesn't approve of but must participate in. The intricacies and images of war (though not truly gory, just scary) is why I give it a 7+ rating. Ultimately, this movie is a love story, and not just between the h/h. It's also a story about learning to love yourself and the types of bonds that create a family (even if you aren't genetically linked). Lots of positive messages about forgiveness, acceptance, and simple human kindness. For me, this is one of my favorite stories of all time. Oh, and the kids love it, too!

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 1, 4, 7, and 8 year old Written byashfaith April 9, 2008

A family fave

Our whole family loves this movie! Something to note is that you do see a naked bum of a self pitying man as he goes upstairs, with a girl walking up behind him, trying to look away...This was just something that I would've liked to know, so I thought I'd share!
Parent of a 8 and 10 year old Written byMattmchugh November 19, 2011

Beautiful, but a little baffling

Like all Miyazaki's movies, this is certainly a pleasure to look at. The exquisitely detailed anime-style art and the visual inventiveness will capture anyone's interest, and spellbind children. Whether or not the convoluted story will hold them is another thing. I always feel like I'm not getting something when I watch a Miyazaki film, as if something about its Japanese-ness just doesn't translate. My kids (8 and 10) seem to care less about that then I do, and they enjoyed it just fine. There's some creepy imagery (pursuit by black-blob creatures, an obese witch who seems to melt as she ages) and a hint of nudity (a woman looks away as a man's towel falls off), but nothing really upsetting. Mostly, if your kids are like me, they'll be fascinated and bewildered by this movie. Not such a bad thing. --mm
Parent Written byStepMomSterToo January 11, 2011

Great for Kids

There is violence and "sorcery" but nothing a younger child would really understand. No gore, and while Howl as a bird might seem a little scary, still nothing to scare younger viewers away. Just know your child. A fun story with a sweet romance to it.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written bytownsend April 9, 2008

Excellent message anti war

I am very careful what my 7 yr old twins/12yr old watch and after reading review thought this would be great...and it was! There is some mild war stuff, but the message is that war is bad..so Bravo! If your child loves fantasy/wizards/good people win over bad people and your are sick of the heavily advertised junk for the masses then you will love this movie. I give it an A plus.
Parent of a 5 year old Written byautumnfawn March 6, 2010

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Parent of a 8 year old Written byMamawolf83 February 5, 2014

Great movie for and older kid

I think 8 years old is a bit to young for this movie. Many sense in the movie can get very intence and ever scare young more sensitive children. There are a few scary images including howl bleeding and lossing feathers after a fight, a fire demon eating the girl hair and becoming a monster, and several war sence.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written bytackyspoons April 9, 2008
Parent of a 10 year old Written byfriendlytoanimals May 21, 2011

A beautiful and fun movie that feels far from Hollywood

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie! It is beautiful, with real artwork - One of my favorite things about Miyazaki movies is how often he makes certain that by the end you cannot hate anyone - even "evil" characters are not left to be simply two dimensional evil, but have deeper stories and good inside of them. Yes, there is a war in the background of the movie, but the message is that the war is pointless and bad - it does not glorify war. Truly beautiful movie.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Positive Messages
Adult Written byDaveGulliksen April 9, 2008

A beautiful adaptation that needs repeated watching to understand

I’ve been a long-time fan of Miyazaki films since long before they started getting translated into English. My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service are two of the best animated films ever made. To my knowledge, Howl’s Moving Castle is the first time Miyazaki has used a book as the basis for one of his films instead of writing his own story. As it turns out, there are so many changes to the plot from book to film that they have little in common. People who have read the book may be disappointed that so much of the original story is omitted. Although the result holds up well on its own, details and motivations that were well defined in the book are lost on screen. I found that having read the book beforehand helped explain many events that happen in the film that would otherwise be unclear, but it also frustrated me that many of the changes seemed unnecessary and confusing. Whereas there has often been a love element in Miyazaki’s films, this one is the first to make it the main focus of the plot, and in that is its salvation. The main characters’ feelings come through beautifully and the rich artwork and attention to detail immerse you in the story. Emotions that were treated lightly in the book are more intense in the movie, and my wife and I were often moved to tears. Conversely, there were also many charming and humorous moments. Miyazaki made many surprising plot twists and even in the most serious moments the pace never bogged down. Billy Crystal was delightful as Calcifer the fire demon, a very pleasant surprise! I just watched the movie for the second time, and it showed me that much of what seemed confusing is simply subtle, so with each watching it all makes more sense. For instance, the heroine, Sophie, has been cursed and now is an old woman even though she actually is quite young. During the course of the movie, she is constantly changing back and forth to younger versions of herself (a departure from the book). This was quite confusing, especially to younger viewers. But there is an explanation, although it takes some thought to arrive at it. In fact, this is the MAJOR POINT of the story, key to understanding it fully! In the past, Miyazaki films were renown for their wonderful background music. Unfortunately, the last several have had lackluster theme music and Howl is no exception. So I emphasize that this is a movie that you need to see several times to get the complete picture. And that also ends up being a good deal of its charm, the mark of a well-made movie that operates on many levels. The answers to these questions are key to understanding the story and need some thought: 1) Why does Sophie leave her home when she is changed into an old woman? 2) Why does Sophie accept her transformation so easily? 3) What is the pattern to when Sophie transforms to become younger? Why does she able to do so? 4) What is Calcifer and why does Howl swallow him as a boy? (hint: What happens to Calcifer’s companions?) 5) Why does Calcifer obey Sophie and why does Calcifer say he needs Sophie, specifically, to give Howl back his heart? 6) Why was the Wicked Witch of the Waste chasing Howl?
Adult Written byconstaur November 21, 2011
Adult Written byashleyj3 November 28, 2015

Miyazaki's Best

Howl's Moving Castle is beautifully animated and has a great story. Both of the main characters learn to love themselves for who they are and grow to become better people. I love the message of nonviolence and that families come in all shapes and sizes.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written bySaskiwi August 9, 2013

Great anime classic

We loved this! Dreamy animation, steampunk Victorian elements, a feisty heroine and dishy hero...all this and Billy Crystal too! Still a family favourite in our house, many years after we first saw it.
Parent of a 3 and 14 year old Written byVAstuart22 December 10, 2010
BEST ANIME MOVIE EVER!!!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent Written byGooberPatrol July 10, 2010

Awesome Family Movie

Great movie for intelligent children and adventurous families.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byBlazera January 7, 2016

A whimsical and charming tale

I enjoyed it for its whimsy and charm as stated above. It has positive role models. The art style is stunning and captivating. Note: There are magical/new age elements, which add to the whimsy; this is up for personal interpretation and the viewer's discretion of course. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written bymorgzilla June 17, 2012

Howl's Moving Castle - Recommended that you watch! (:

Howl's Moving Castle is a magical movie that both enchants and encourages viewers. The film gives a positive message and shows a good example of life lessons, struggles, love, and war. It is, all around, a fantastic movie and is great for the whole family. (:

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Violence & scariness
Adult Written byNancy F. January 31, 2018

Beautiful, heartening story

Another masterpiece from Studio Ghibli. Compelling story and stunning visuals. Plenty of visual action to keep smaller kids interested with a charming story to engage older kids and adults. Some scenes of war might be intense for little ones. Great messages of love and sacrifice. Howl has a nice arc, starting as a selfish person but growing past his spoiled ways. Family and friendship themes well represented. Sophie, kind and steadfast, but not a push-over, is a fine role model for any kid.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written bygreen13 April 9, 2008

A Great Movie: Makes you think

This movie is great. Not only does it make you think about the meaning of War and Violence, but about Pride and how being compassionate can make a difference.

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