Studio Ghibli has been behind some wonderful animation movies of the years and remains a real force in this genre of film - if you haven't seen some of their more recent films, then you really do need to check them out.

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle

Hard to believe that Howl's Moving Castle is already a decade old and it remains my absolute favourite when it comes to Studio Ghibli films. Of course, they have delivered some real gems before and since, but Howl's Moving Castle was the one that truly captured me.

The movie marked the return of animation directing wizard Hayao Miyazaki, in what was his first feature since the huge success of Spirited Away in 2003. Miyazaki enjoyed a wonderful filmmaking career and was behind some of Studio Ghibli's best films and most memorable characters.

Howl's Movie Castle follows Sophie, an unconfident young woman, who is turned into an old woman by a witch after being befriended by wizard Howl. Taking shelter in Howl's travelling home, Sophie sets out to find a way to break the spell... making friends and falling in love along the way.

While Howl's Moving Castle does tackle the dark theme of war - like it many Studio Ghibli movies - it is still a wonderful adventure from start to finish. The animation if just breath-taking and it is great that this studio has stayed with the traditional hand-drawn style rather that switching to CGI.

Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of CGI animation and what they can achieve now is staggering, but the hand-drawn style has a very special place in my heart and it is wonderful to still see it on the big screen and looking truly magnificent.

The animation - especially the moving castle itself - is truly captivating as Miyazaki takes the audience on a real adventure and to many different places and landscapes. There's something incredibly magical about the worlds that he creates that you cannot help but get swept up in it all.

However, it is not all about the animation as the characters are just as engaging as the look of the film. Studio Ghibli are famed for creating strong female characters and Sophie continues that fine tradition. Sophie is a character who is determined to stand on her own two feet and find a way to break the spell.

And when everything around her starts to fall apart, she is the one who fights to keep her new - and slightly unconventional - family together. It is her strength and bravery that really sees them through. It is great to see Sophie as more than just a damsel in distress. Of course, she need Howl's help to break the spell but he is needs her as much as she needs him.

Over the years, we have seen characters like Totoro and Catbus brought to the big screen and Calcifer is another fantastic creation. Voiced wonderfully by Billy Crystal in the English speaking version, he is one of those unforgettable Studio Ghibli characters.

Howl's Moving Castle remains one of the most successful Japanese movies at the box office of all time. The movie went on to be nominated for four Oscars, including Best Animated Feature. However, it would lose out to Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Howl's Moving Castle is one of the most enchanting and engrossing Studio Ghibli movies as it as charming as is action-packed and funny. The characters and the wonderful animation really pull you into the adventure and it is a truly immersive viewing experience.

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