Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: Book vs Movie

When I first got this book from OwlCrate Jr's Home Sweet Home box last year and showed it off in a series of mini unboxing through Instagram story, my sister was among the earliest person who got excited because of its reputation as one of Studio Ghibli's most famous animated movies. As someone who shamefully had not tried those films yet, I wasn't at all familiar with Howl's Moving Castle let alone its original form by Diana Wynne Jones. But the synopsis intrigued me; I quickly grew delighted by the concept and so I decided to watch the movie as soon as I was done with the book.

Howl's Moving Castle follows the story of Sophie Hatter who lives with her stepmother and two younger sisters in Market Chipping, a town where it is a common belief that the eldest child will never be successful. After their father died, Sophie gets to inherit her family's dull hat shop while each of her sisters gets off to be an apprentice in the other part of the town. Even though running the shop gets more and more tedious, Sophie manages to make the hats quite fast selling. As the result, the shop is getting more and more crowded as the days pass.

However, everything comes to a halt when one day the notorious Witch of the Waste comes to her shop and curses her into an old woman. Sophie runs away from home and somehow ends up in Howl's moving castle. She then makes a bargain with Howl's fire demon called Calcifer: she will break his contract with Howl, and in return, Calcifer will undo her curse. In doing so, Sophie discovers that there's more to Howl and the castle than he leads everyone to believe.

If the movie was made beautifully, I thought the book was intended to entertain and therefore very fun. I'm not sure this is the proper way to put it, but in my opinion, the book's storyline was more complex though sadly a bit careless of details. Howl's Moving Castle had the potential to be amazing if it hadn't stopped abruptly before every question regarding the plot was answered. Upon finishing this book, some parts still puzzled me, like Howl's true motive in chasing girls, the Witch of the Waste's curse for Howl, and also Miss Angorian. I felt like there were still a lot of things to know. Perhaps these major things were left uncovered because they didn't seem necessary enough if only given a brief glance.

The animated movie, on the other hand, was easy to follow because the plot was less complex and it took more attention to the details. I certainly didn't expect the visual to be this beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. The animation was charming and the details of the places were perfectit was far prettier than my imagination running wild, which certainly says a lot. It also cut out a handful scenes and characters so the plot was far simple and more believable, but along with it was another series of questions following the latter one. With only several characters to follow, I was actually hoping to see more development. But again, some parts just ended as fast without fulfilling my curiosity.

Watching and reading Howl's Moving Castle were certainly very different experiences to undergo. Both were unique in their own way especially because the conflict was built and finished quite differently. While book Howl was a drama queen and also very childish, movie Howl was quite a charmer and more mature despite being a little dramatic at first. Though movie Howl was certainly not how I had originally pictured book Howl during my time reading, I still enjoyed both equally. The movie was rich with details, beautiful, and touching, while the book was fun, more eventful, and Sophie seemed more badass.

In conclusion, Howl's Moving Castle was such a magical story though the way I adored its mediums was certainly different: I liked the complexity of the plot in the bookthe characters and premise were very promising despite the lack of development, and Howl was rather funny despite his nonsensewhile I loved the visual of the movie and its more compressed plot. Both endings were a bit rushed unfortunately, but I would still recommend either of them if you love middle-grade and something magical.

Actual rating: 3.5