Monday, September 11, 2006

On Moving Castles

I caught Howl's Moving Castle on TV just now, and it was a delight. I never fail to be amazed at just about everything Studio Ghibli comes out with. The animation was wonderfully smooth and fluid, so fluid that often I forgot I was watching a cartoon -- and that verisimilitude, in my honest opinion, is the hallmark of great animation.

The story, though, could have used a bit of work, as it felt awfully rushed toward the end, and got more than a bit confusing. I felt that the subplot with the war and the missing prince was tied up way too easily (although it was nice to hear Crispin Freeman in a voice-cameo).

Normally I make a point to watch any foreign production in the original language first, but since it was on TV I had no choice but to watch the English version. I'm not sorry I did; as much as I dislike Disney's business, the quality of their work is always top-notch, and this was no exception. Billy Crystal in particular was delightful as Calcifer the fire-demon.

Hayao Miyazaki is getting on in years, and he's "retired" at least once already that I know. It's a shame that he's not going to be making many more movies. Even his failures are worlds beyond the standard. Even if Howl's Moving Castle doesn't stand up to any of his past masterpieces, it's still better than 90% of any other animated features out there.

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