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Howl’s Moving Castle

Wizards, witches, scarecrows, spells, war, and romance! Sounds like a wonderful and magical potion for a delightful romp in the world of anime. And it is! I’ve watched Howl’s Moving Castle several times but did not know until last year that it was a book. I’m sure if I had paid attention to the credits in the movie, that little note would have been available to me but I didn’t. As is the case for many movies I watch that I find out are from a book, I ventured out to find the book. Hayao Miyazaki turned this book into a charming film that was Academy Award-nominated and I wondered if the book was just as enchanting. I must say that I was not disappointed. Diana Wynne Jones‘ book was more enjoyable to me than the film!

There are some differences which is usually the case with books to movies. Studio Ghibli has a way of making even ugly aspects beautiful (see: Grave of the Fireflies). Hayao Miyazaki did a wonderful job of turning what was for me a bit scary (as well as Sophie Hatter), the scarecrow into a more endearing character from the start. Jones’ book gives the reader a more inside look at Sophie Hatter’s thought process and you get a little more background about her. You learn about her family including her place in the family and what it has to do with luck, her beautiful sisters (who had no roles in the film). It paints a bigger picture for the film and has other elements that really made for a more intriguing story. Howl, that lovable yet impish character has a background that made me stop and reread a chapter because I was so amazed.

I actually requested that my used bookstore order this book because I wanted to read it. I know I could have gone to Amazon but I wanted to support the local business. I had not read any reviews on the actual book, only the film. However, I figured it must be a pretty good book for the film to be as magical as it was for me. And remember Michael from the film? There is more to his story, too! He’s more than just Howl’s little apprentice; he’s also a bit older in the book. If you like to read and you enjoyed Howl’s Moving Castle, heck, even if you didn’t enjoy the film but enjoy reading, give this a gander. Are there any more anime films/series that you know of that are based off books (ones written in English)? If so, did you enjoy them and what would you recommend?

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17 Comments

  1. Cratex

    Howl’s Moving Castle is one of my top five anime. I’ve been aware it was based on a book but I didn’t know it was available in English, though to be honest I’ve not looked that hard. I don’t read nearly as much as I used to.
    The only printed source for anime I’ve read have been the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya books, up through the fourth (Disappearance). I’ve found them to be very good.

    • The author of Howl’s Moving Castle, Diane Wynne Jones was a British writer. Studio Ghibli made it Japanese, just like they did The Borrowers. It’s a wonderful book. If you enjoyed the film, you will definitely like the book especially if you are a reader.

  2. Vividhunter

    I read the book after watching the movie too, and I agree the book is better. Love Hisashi Joe’s score though ^^

    • I agree that Hisashi Joe’s score is nice. I was very pleased with the book.

  3. I loved the anime and the book! I actually found out it was based on a book after I watched the anime. Like you, if I watched something that was based on a book I tend to seek it out to compare. The book is as always better than the film, but the film isn’t any less delightful either. I like the interactions between Sophie and Howl in the book. I even think the romance between them is more fleshed out in the book than the anime.

    • Absolutely, the film is still charming! I have watched it over and over again. The book takes nothing away from the film, it adds to it. The interactions between Sophie and Howl in the book are hilarious. She didn’t realize she was falling for him.

  4. ramipon

    the book and the movie compliment each other well… an epic journey with enjoyable characters ^_^

  5. ramipon

    oh… they also made an anime movie of Ursula Le Guin’s “EarthSea” book series

    • Yeah, but they completely changed the plot which she didn’t like. I also did not like the film, it was one of the worst ones Studio Ghibli has put out.

  6. I’ve been dying to read this book ever since I found out about it after watching the movie! I haven’t had any luck finding it yet, but I’ll get it eventually! It’s nice to know that the book is just as good as the movie!

    • You can find it on Amazon. And I’m not sure where you live but if you have any used bookstores around, they would probably be willing to order it for you.

  7. I agree with many others – the book and the film complete each other in this case and take nothing from one another. Parts of the film, such as the visual beauty of the magic being performed, and parts of the book, such as the more in-depth explorations of the characters make a perfect combo.

    I like the books about Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono. Beautiful artwork and heartfelt stories, just as the movie made by Studio Ghibli. (Also, funny fact is that the city in the movie was apparently inspired by Stockholm, among other real cities).

    Also agree about “Earthsea”, it bears little or no resemblance to Le Guin’s books…

    • I haven’t read the books by Eiko Kadono but it sounds like something I would be interested in. Howl’s Moving Castle gave the background for the movie and made so many things make sense. The Witch’s character was a bit more evil, though. I really liked that.

      • Kadono’s books are definitely worth checking out. :)

        Yes, having read Wynne-Jones’ novel really gives the movie more depth, and the characters are intriguing. The Witch is a great villain in the book.

  8. Thanks for pointing this out. I wasn’t aware a book version existed. Time to add another book to my reading list. :3 By the way, how long is the book?

    • The book is 448 pages but the font is large as it’s supposedly for ages 10 and up. Although I found it a bit mature, definitely more mature than what we consider YA books (Twilight).

      • Thanks for answering. Seems a pretty good length. I’m looking forward to reading it now. :3

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