Miyazaki's Portrayal of Age in "Howl's Moving Castle"

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  • Topic: Hayao Miyazaki, Old age, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Pages : 4 (1220 words )
  • Download(s) : 171
  • Published : February 20, 2011
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Lin Yijun

How did Miyazaki portray Sophie’s age through the anime “Howl’s Moving Castle?” What is the message that Miyazaki tries to bring across to the audience with respect to her age? Discuss with relevance to Japanese society.

In Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle” (2004), 18-year-old Sophie Hatter was turned into a 90-year-old by the Witch of the Waste, making her leave her home on a journey. She meets Howl, and the adventures begin. I had observed the film stylistics which I thought was rather interesting, and came up with the above question. It was Sophie’s fluctuating age throughout the film (she is in the body of a 90-year-old most of the time, but sometimes she appears young), which may be a critique of the issues of ageing or associated with ageing in Japan. In this essay I shall discuss the issues of ageing that is represented by messages implied in the anime. The animated film is based on the novel of the same title by Diana Wynne Jones where he directed the anime based on many of his own ideas of character development and plot which substantially deviates a lot from the novel according to Diana Wynne Jones[i], and according to an interview with him, the film is meant for Japanese audience[ii], even though the setting is very much medieval European-style. Thus, Miyazaki could have an underlying intention or message for the Japanese audience in this anime.

Firstly, the director implies that being old does not mean being incapable. “Grandma” Sophie was seen as rather energetic for her age. She freed Turnip-head from being stuck in the bushes the first time and in a castle groove the second time with her strength. She is also seen spring cleaning the moving castle’s filthy interior and was able to climb a huge flight of stairs to the castle. Compared to his other films, like Spirited Away (2001) and Princess Mononoke (1997) which used the shōjō[iii] as the protagonist; Howl’s Moving Castle used an old-lady transformed from a shōjō. We might...
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