Disney keeps the Hayao Miyazaki’s classics coming as Howl’s Moving Castle finally making its debut on Blu-ray. As with most Studio Ghibli’s films, it’s another animated masterpiece that features mesmerizing visuals and music, a unique story, and fantastic voice acting along with some nice extra features that fans and those who enjoy great films will enjoy again and again. An Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Feature in 2006, this one is a must for both animation fans or just anyone looking to get caught up in a great story.
Based on Diana Wynne Jones’ 1986 novel of the same name, Hayao Miyazaki directs the tale of a young girl named Sofi, where she lives in a normal but boring town selling hats at her family’s shop. One day when some bad guys try to rob her, she saved by a dashing prince named Howl and begins to fall in love with him. She decides to follow him on his steampunk-like mobile castle (hence the title) as he and his ragtag crew go on one adventure after another, especially after Sofi is turned into an old woman by the nasty Witch of the Waste. Now it’s up to all of them to help out and cure her of the curse, as well as aid Howl in fighting off his own personal demons that have caught up to him.
I remember originally seeing this movie when Disney released it on DVD back in 2006, and I can say I’m still impressed by it’s splendor just as I was back then. I always enjoy how Miyazaki can take a simple story and turn it into a grand adventure filled with action, humor and self-discovery. And watching this on Blu-ray makes it that much better, as the visuals are just breathtaking along with a gorgeous musical score by Joe Hisaishi. The solid voice acting is also a plus on both the Japanese and English dubs (Christian Bale as Howl is very spot-on), as everyone fits their roles to a tee and brings them to stunning life.
There’s also a few cool extras on the disc, such as “Behind the Microphone” that features some of the English voice cast going behind the scenes in the studio recording their lines with direction from Pixar’s Pete Docter. Speaking of him, there’s also an “Interview with Pete Docter” where he shares his love of the movie and what led to him directing the English vocals.
Possibly the greatest feature on here is “Hello, Mr. Lasseter: Hayao Miyazaki Visits Pixar Studios” where director Hayao Miyazaki visits the Pixar studios and speaks on the film some while also talking and meeting with Pixar legend John Lasseter, who produced the movie and helped bring it over to the states. It’s obvious that Lasseter and Miyazaki share a deep respect for each other and their works, and I love how it just comes across here.
Howl’s Moving Castle is yet another fantastic animated experience that everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing, even if you’re not entirely onboard with anime. This was the film that helped nab Hayao Miyazaki (and Studio Ghibli) another Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, and they deserved it. Featuring beautiful hand-crafted and CG-aided visuals that look spectacular in high-definition, a sweeping musical score, great story, spot-on voice acting and some truly fun extras that every Miyazaki fan will treasure, anyone who loves animated films or just great ones in general will want to move this Blu-ray into their collection.