Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – 8/10 Hayao Miyazaki animated fantasy movie review

Cast / crew
Writer (Original Novel) Howl’s Moving Castle: Diana Wynne Jones
Jean Simmons: Grandma Sophie
Christian Bale: Howl
Lauren Bacall: Witch of the Waste
Blythe Danner: Madame Suliman
Emily Mortimer: Young Sophie
Josh Hutcherson: Markl
Billy Crystal: Calcifer
Executive Producer U.S. Production: John Lasseter
Producer U.S. Production: Rick Dempsey
Producer U.S. Production: Ned Lott
Director U.S. Production: Pete Docter
Director U.S. Production: Rick Dempsey
Writer (English Language Adaptation): Cindy Davis Hewitt
Writer (English Language Adaptation): Donald H. Hewitt
Writer (Translation): Jim Hubbert
Writer (Screenplay): Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Producer: Toshio Suzuki
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

After notorious heart-eating wizard Howl rescues her from an attempted sexual assault, young haberdasher Sophie is targeted by a rival witch and cursed with an old age spell and the inability to tell anyone about it. She leaves home and moves in with Howl as his cleaner but finds that he is nothing like his monstrous reputation.


While certainly B-grade Miyazaki thanks to an eventually incomprehensible plot, this beautifully animated, paced and scored movie remains enthralling from beginning to end, tickling your imagination and gently massaging your eyes and ears. It’s like magic; Miyazaki genuinely captures your imagination and relentlessly engenders wonder. How does he do that? While Miyazaki is clearly the most important ingredient, it cannot be overstated how critical Joe Hisaishi’s scores are. They are light and wondrous and magical and we are fortunate that these two masters have come together and given us so much joy in their movies.

This movie contains gory and unpleasant scenes and mild nudity.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Arrietty (2010) – 7/10 Studio Ghibli animated fantasy movie review

Cast / crew
Screenplay Writer and Planner: Hayao Miyazaki
Producer: Toshio Suzuki
Writer (Inspired by the original novels by) The Borrowers: Mary Norton
Saoirse Ronan: English: Arrietty
Tom Holland: English UK: Sho
Mark Strong: English: Pod
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Mirai Shida: Arrietty
Ryunosuke Kamiki: Shou
Tomokazu Miura: Pod

Arrietty aka The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)

14-year-old tiny person Arrietty lives beneath the floorboards of a large house with her mother and father. At night, they go out and ‘borrow’ items from the humans aware that they must never be seen. Sho, a poorly young boy with a weak heart and broken family, comes to stay in the house for a few days before an operation and on Arrietty’s first night of borrowing, he sees her and her world turns upside-down.


Arrietty is a sweet, gentle movie but the sense of wonder and curiosity that should be there is all but non-existent (it surfaces briefly under the closing credits, oddly enough). It also could have done with some tightening of pace (remove nothing, just make shots a frame or two shorter) as not quite enough happens to fill the 93 minute running time (writer-not-director Hayao Miyazaki impressively grumbles in an interview that he wrote an 80 minute movie). Don’t misunderstand, though, this is a good movie. There are some very good scenes (the first borrowing and eye contact, the new kitchen, the goodbye, the closing credits), the animation is first rate, the character design for Arrietty especially is a Ghibli classic, the music is good when used and the goodbye scene is genuinely touching. There is an essential, if shockingly honest, interview with Miyazaki (being watched, you’ll realise after a while, by a real-life totoro) as an extra on the Blu-ray. It reinforces what we already knew: Walt Disney’s, John Lasseter’s and Hayao Miyazaki’s don’t grow on trees.

This movie contains

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Little Norse Prince (1968, Anime, Movie) – 7/10

Producer: Hiroshi Okawa
Writer (Conception): Masajiro Seki
Writer (Screenplay): Kazuo Fukazawa
Writer (Creator): Yasuo Otsuka
Animator: Hayao Miyazaki
Mijikiro Hira: Grunwald
Eijiro Tono: Ganko
Etsuko Ichihara: Hiruda
Masao Mishima: Village Leader
Director: Isao Takahata
Hisako Okata: Horusu

Little Norse Prince (1968)

Horusu is told by his dying father that he is the last survivor of a village destroyed by a demon and he is urged to go and find other humans and try and unite them to fight against the demon to stop it happening again. Hurusu’s early efforts pay off well but then he finds an orphaned girl, Hiruda, with a beautiful voice and, inexplicably, things start to go badly.


Considered as the first modern anime by some, this is great enough, often enough to offset the occasional story-telling bumps and pacing issues. Though referred to as a conscious effort to break away from Disney and, particularly, Toei’s contemporary childrens animations, it feels highly reminiscent of the first few Disney films Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through to Fantasia as it is clearly a movie with complex characters, good versus evil motifs and something for all audiences. Despite budget cuts and the non-animation of the village attacks by the wolves and the rats, the animation is frequently excellent with the character work on Hiruda particularly nuanced.

This movie contains violence and mild non-sexual nudity.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro HD widescreen wallpaper 1920×1080

Hayao Miyazaki is the animation director genius behind Studio Ghibli and all its best movies. His first movie was a TV spin-off of Lupin III and is, by some way, the best Lupin III adventure produced. You can see all of Miyazaki’s enthusiasms and characterisation mannerisms even here in The Castle of Cagliostro.

The wallpaper is constructed from  DVD capture but Lupin himself has been recoloured by hand to sharpen him up.

These two wallpapers are identical except the left one is encoded at JPEG95 and the right one as lossless PNG. The PNG definitely looks better but it is a much larger file size.



Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro, The (1980) – 8/10

Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro, The (1980)

Master thief Lupin the Third, grandson of the legendary Lupin, has just finished liberating a casino of its proceeds when he discovers that every note is a goat bill, a virtually perfect counterfeit note. He heads to the Duchy of Cagliostro where he believes the notes are coming from but on his way he gets entangled with a beautiful young bride fleeing from some of the Count of Cagliostro’s heavies.


Soon-to-be legendary animation genius Hayao Miyazaki makes his feature debut with this action adventure romance comedy that works brilliantly and is great fun from beginning to end. The animation is largely excellent and despite our lead character being a thief he makes an agreeably nonchalant hero.

This movie contains mild swear words and violence, unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Available on DVD.

Whisper of the Heart (1995) – 8/10

Copyright Holder: Aoi Hiiragi
Yoko Honna: Shizuku
Issei Takahashi: Seiji
Tachibana Takashi: Shizuku’s Father
Muroi Shigeru: Shizuku’s Mother
Tsuyuguchi Shigeru: Baron
Kobayashi Keiju: ‘World Emporium’ Proprietor
Brittany Snow: Shizuku
David Gallagher: Seiji
Cary Elwes: The Baron
Writer (Original Manga) Published by Shueisha: Aoi Hiiragi
Writer (Screenplay): Hayao Miyazaki
Storyboard: Hayao Miyazaki
Producer: Toshio Suzuki
General Producer: Hayao Miyazaki
Director: Yoshifumi Kondo

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Middle School girl Shizuku spots that a boys name keeps appearing before hers in library books she is taking out and builds a romantic ideal in her mind. Her schoolmates are also having the beginnings of romantic entanglements but, one day, a cat will lead Shizuku on to the path of self discovery and, perhaps, true love.


Sweet, charming and exceptionally animated. Very exceptionally animated. Tragically, this would be director Yoshifumi Kondo’s only film for Studio Ghibli due to his untimely death from an aneurysm (he was 48). Miyazaki is reported to have intended Kondo to be his successor at Ghibli and that makes his death even deeper felt. Of all the non-Miyazaki directed output at Studio Ghibli, this one (though scripted by Miyazaki) is closest in tone to the master’s work.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Available on DVD.

Castle in the Sky (aka Laputa) movie review – 8/10

Castle In The Sky DVD capture gallery

★★★★★ ★★★☆☆
Animated epic (two hours long) from Japanese genius Hayao Miyazaki which is entertaining, delightful, surprising, thrilling, spectacular and brilliant from start to end. It occasionally loses the viewer with regard to the plot but that is its only weakness. Eight stars feels a bit mean but, I think, it is the right rating and that is an must-see eight stars.
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Pazu rescues an unconscious girl descending from the night sky with a glowing pendant around her neck. He helps the girl, Sheeta, to escape from the air pirates and the military who are obsessed with Laputa, a legendary kingdom on a floating island in the sky with which Sheeta is suspected of being connected.

People credits
◦ Mayumi Tanaka: Pazu
◦ Keiko Yokozawa: Sheeta
• Writer (Original Story): Hayao Miyazaki
• Writer (Screenplay): Hayao Miyazaki
• Director: Hayao Miyazaki

. Violence, some strong violence, some comic violence.
Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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