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How'ls Moving Castle
Based On: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki
Released: November 20, 2004
Runtime: 120 minutes
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese

Howl's Moving Castle, loosely based on a novel written by Dianna Wynne Jones, is a 2004 steampunk anime movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki.


18-year-old Sophie works in her late father's hat shop in a humdrum town. But things get interesting when she's transformed into an elderly woman by the evil Witch of the Waste. Determined to reverse the spell, Sophie seeks the help of the wizard Howl, who has an amazing moving castle that is powered by a fire demon named Calcifer.

There are very large differences between the novel and the film. The novel is aimed more at the fantasy loving audience while the movie caters to both fantasy and science fiction lovers. Both are set in the Edwardian Era rather than the Victorian Era. Steam power as well as horse power are still in common use, but the internal combustion engine along with electricity are starting to take over. The architecture and scenery in the movie are simply captivating. Miyazaki's fascination with airships and multi-winged aircraft are also prominent. There is a scene in which an airship gets stood on its nose at its mooring mast the way the USS Los Angeles did.

In the novel, some parts in the story are in the present times. When Howl decides to show Soohie and Michael what is in the black-knob door, it is set to the present. Neil, Howl’s nephew is seen playing a computer game, and Megan, Howl’s sister, talks about college and finding a job. Howl has a car in this dimension. Funny enough, Neils game is about the moving castle itself. (Pages 122-125)

Steampunk Influences[]

The steampunk influence comes from the era in which the story is set, rather than its attitude. The movie and the novel alike would fall into the category of Gaslamp fantasy rather than Steampunk. While the technology in this story, both the novel and the movie, is of the Edwardian Era the real power is magical. J.K. Rowling seems to have gotten a lot of the setting for her Harry Potter series from this story.

In the Harry Potter stories, members of the magical community are living a life more akin to the technology found during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. while the muggles (non-magical folk) live in the modern age. The same is true in this story, only the magical folk are leading much the same lives as the non-magical folk are. They are taking full advantage of the technology current during the story's setting.

The over all tone of the movie and the novel is upbeat and the setting is not even remotely dystopian in nature, but is instead what would be thought of as realistic were there no users of magic or demons like the Calcifer character in the story.

Hayao Miyazaki
Films: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind | Laputa: Castle in the Sky | Princess Mononoke | Howl's Moving Castle
TV: Future Boy Conan | Sherlock Hound
Manga: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind