Book Review: The Art of Howl’s Moving Castle

Authors: Hayao Miyazaki

Translator: Yuji Oniki

Publication Date: 2005 (2018 ed.)

Publisher: Viz Media

Pages: 256 pages

Welcome back, everyone, for the next instalment of the Ghibli Library reviews! Today, we’re looking at the art book for Howl’s Moving Castle, one of my favourite Miyazaki works. The cover features a piece of concept art depicting the castle itself, and while I do think they could perhaps have picked a more colourful example, it does show off the intricate details of the zany structure nicely.

Miyazaki #13

In “Part One – Hayao Miyazaki’s Concept Sketch Collection”, we get a brief intro and a short bio of Miyazaki himself, followed by a month-by-month production synopsis (I always find these breakdowns fascinating; Miyazaki seems to put his films together so quickly!). Then, we have a selection of the director’s enchanting concept sketches, along with storyboards of some of the story’s key scenes. It’s a brilliant section, but far too short – I’d love to see more!

Miyazaki #16

“Part Two – Concept Art, Background Art, Character Designs and Concept Sketches” is the real meat of the book, where most of the commentary from the filmmakers is. As we flip through the glossy pages, we’re given insights into various aspects of the production from art directors Yoji Takeshige and Noboru Yoshida (who also contribute concept art and backgrounds), supervising animators Akihiko Yamashita, Takeshi Inamura and Kitaro Kosaka (the former two of whom did the character designs), background artist Kazuo Oga, colour design supervisor Michiyo Yasuda, director of digital animation Mitsunori Kataama, and director of digital imaging Atsushi Okui. There’s also a section towards the end on the harmony processing technique used in the film, by Noriko Takaya.

Miyazaki #14

This part of the book features discussions of the film’s characters and key scenes in chronological order, along with notes on the inspirations for the film’s artwork and the creation of its digital animation effects. It’s always a treat as an animation fan to hear the creators go into detail about how these wonderful films were made, but it’s something many art books don’t devote enough space to, so I’m glad their voices can be heard consistently throughout the Ghibli books. At the end of the section, we see two of the film’s best-known posters, a flyer from its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, and a small bio on Diana Wynne Jones, the author of the original book (she apparently enjoyed the finished film enormously, despite it differing from her work).

Miyazaki #15

Of course, it would not be a Ghibli book review without “Part Three – Final Screenplay”, in which Cindy Davis Hewitt and Donald H. Hewitt’s English adaptation of Miyazaki’s original script is presented in its entirety, taking up precious space that could have gone towards more artwork. I still don’t know why these are included; I’m a massive bookworm, but who wants to read a film? They’re meant to be watched! Perhaps they’re intended for the theatre buffs out there who plan to stage their own telling of the story – although they’d have a job holding this hefty volume during rehearsals! Anyway, with the film and book credits at the back, this section draws the book to a close.

All in all, this is another excellent entry in the Ghibli Library series, filled with interesting snippets about animated filmmaking and the usual dazzling array of artwork. I would have liked the concept sketch collection to have been a bit more extensive (perhaps dropping the script to make space, if necessary), but I have no complaints besides that – you’ll definitely want to add this one to your collection!

Now, at the end of another month, I’d like to thank you once again for reading – and for being so patient. At this point, seven months after my last film review, there’s no sense in pretending that Pixar season is going to start anytime soon. I miss my full-length reviews and I’m desperate to return to them, but my schedule is just too full at the moment to find the time; each film review can easily take three or more days to put together, and it’s difficult to work on them when you only get a few hours here or a single day off there. As much as I love writing, it’s still a lot of work, and the last thing you want to do after a long week is to spend your only day off working. With luck, some career changes later this year may come to fruition that would give me back more control over my schedule, so please do check back every now and then. The Incredibles will be done eventually, so help me, if it’s the last thing I ever do. Until then, I’ll always strive to post at least a book review each month – I’ve not missed a single month yet since I began this blog, and I don’t intend to start now!

Until next time, take care and staaay animated!


Buy it on Amazon: – UK – US – Viz Media’s page for Ghibli products

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