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Please do check it out if you haven't yet! : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwROgK94zcM

It is one of the very few movies be it animated or live action that I know of with an ugly, old ( and awesome ) female main character and one who gets a romance with a gorgeous male too! :)

I don't really consider Sophie to be " ugly " per se even though she DID have low self-esteem even before she was cursed by the witch and turned into an old lady but she DOES spend most of the movie as an old lady and Howl falls in love with her knowing fully well that he may never see her as a young lady again and he still loves her despite her old and objectively ugly appearance which is something very rare to see in romance movies...

Plus even if you're not interested in the romance part the movie is still a lot of fun like Studio Ghibli movies tend to be! :)

Please do check it out if you haven't yet! : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwROgK94zcM It is one of the very few movies be it animated or live action that I know of with an ugly, old ( and awesome ) female main character and one who gets a romance with a gorgeous male too! :) >! I don't really consider Sophie to be " ugly " per se even though she DID have low self-esteem even before she was cursed by the witch and turned into an old lady but she DOES spend most of the movie as an old lady and Howl falls in love with her knowing fully well that he may never see her as a young lady again and he still loves her despite her old and objectively ugly appearance which is something very rare to see in romance movies... !< Plus even if you're not interested in the romance part the movie is still a lot of fun like Studio Ghibli movies tend to be! :)

41 comments

The book is even better (and the end also makes more sense). I simply LOVE Diana Wynne Jones.

"It was odd. As a girl, Sophie would have shriveled with embarrassment at the way she was behaving. As an old woman, she did not mind what she did or said. She found that a great relief."

This correlates so much with real life 🤣 the older I get the less fucks I give.

Diana Wynne Jones was one of my favorite authors growing up, she wrote so many strong female characters I could look up to.

One of my favorite Miyazaki films. I love the breakfast scene. Spirited Away is my favorite. I love how brave the little girl is and that she is the main protagonist.

Love Studio Ghibli in general.

Howl's is gorgeous, but my top billing for Ghibli is Grave of the Fireflies, mononoke hime and spirited away are a close second.

Mononoke Hime and Nausicaa are my favorites, they are SO good! I must have watched Mononoke Hime like 76514372 times. And the MUSIC! Joe Hisaishi is an amazing composer.

Princess Mononoke is indeed an awesome movie! Love Lady Eboshi and everything she did for the prostituted women she rescued and gave a more dignified life to! Very rare to see a female villain with as much dept as her!

Grave of the fireflies is the greatest movie I will never watch again 🥲

Honest question: why Grave of Fireflies? For me it was one big WTF. Starting with the protagonist choosing to starve his tiny sister to death, despite the fact that his living conditions with an aunt were MUCH better than that of Harry freaking Potter. It made absolutely no sense to me until I looked up the biography of the writer of the original novel and then I got seriously repulsed, and these shots of 3yo girl's partially naked body suddenly had a very different meaning.

I don't understand what people in general and feminists in particular like about it, so I'm really interested to hear your thoughts.

I don't understand what people in general and feminists in particular like about it, so I'm really interested to hear your thoughts.

I think the frustrating nature of the brother character is the point. He makes a lot of REALLY stupid decisions because he's just a dumb, headstrong, traumatized, teenage boy. He thinks his aunt is a monster because his only frame of reference is his sweet mother who doted on him. He thinks he can raise his sister on his own because he has no clue how bad things really are out in the world (and because his mom made it look easy). And his foolishness gets himself and his sister killed. You're not supposed to see the brother as a hero because its a cautionary tale. And I think many people like it because its one of the rare films that shows the impact of war on the day to day lives of the normal civilians (mainly the women and children) and how they have to cope in the wake of devastating losses

I agree with this. In any other movie, a kid's movie, hell even any other Ghibli movie, the brother would learn the lesson of the day, grow up and everything would be fine. A happy ending.

But this wasn't fantasy. Real children just like the brother and sister died. No romanticism here.

I think that's what stuck with me. People go into GOTF expecting happy endings. I know I did, and the movie has stuck with me ever since. One scene in particular was the little sister eating fake jewels because she was starving to death and thought they were candy.

Miyazaki is known to put anti war messages in many of his movies (howl's moving castle, Nausicaa of the valley of the wind, castle in the sky, princess monoke somewhat). To me GOTF is just another facet of that, just brutal and miserable.

It's been a long time since I watched it, though.

Maybe it's the fact that I really cannot imagine myself, or any of my friends, making these decisions. No matter how arrogant you are, caring for those under your protection should go first. His ways are so alien to me that the story stops being relatable even on the most basic human level.

Hell, I kept comparing it with Crime and Punishment, where main heroine prostitutes herself in order to save her family from hunger, and I really really cannot have even a tiniest drop of compassion for the Grave of Fireflies protagonist. Which makes me doubt the message of "impact of war", because honestly, it was so damn easy for him to avoid most of their struggles.

Really, for me the only meaningful message from this movie was "males can screw up this badly and there will be people blaming it on the 'cruelty of war' ".

I have never watched it nor do I plan to. I watch movies to see how beautiful reality and the human imagination can be. Happy endings, justice, and good feels all around is a must for me.

BUT I have known people that not liked, but appreciated, Grave of the Fireflies. Mostly, the realism and highlighting the brutality. It's a very much antiwar film by showing the effects on a small scale. There's no epic battle, just quiet and sorrowful deaths throughout the film. There's no honor or glory. It's that reason why the protagonist is in a way, likable; because we have the benefit of being an audience- an ADULT audience. The protagonist is a kid, just a stupid immature kid that get punished for his actions with only hindsight being his teacher. He didn't have a frame of reference on how his aunt was treating him, only that he FELT it was unfair and terrible, and so he did what he thought a big brother should do- take them away and MAYBE they will find something better (what he thinks is a certainty).

So people appreciate that the main character never got to be a hero, because that's not what happens in real life. It's not a movie, it's an antiwar propaganda that tries its damnest to be as effective as it can be. It's not only the soldiers or nurses or widows or orphaned children that suffer. It's everyone (expect fucking politicians), no matter how well meaning they are. In the age of "online personalities" or marvel movies, sometimes we need a reminder in our media that's beyond the news on how harsh realty can be and to appreciate what we have.

That's what I picked up, anyway.

Grave Of The Fireflies is like Schindler's List and Sophie's Choice. They're all important movies. But they're difficult to watch and most people can't stomach watching them more than once because of how aggressively sad they are

Agreed. I have to give the side eye to anyone who "loves" Grave of the Fireflies. I would eternal sunshine that movie from my brain if I could, and I'm generally a big Ghibli fan.

Miyazaki films are just gorgeous.

They are, and now I have to watch this one again. One thing I like about these films is that there is always the Drawn Out moment scene where you get a short time to relax and tune into the moment. It is such a different feel from most animated movies nowadays where you are constantly on edge and moving from action scene to another action scene. If you hadn't noticed this in the films, look for it...it is amazing! I love the meadow scene in Tortoro, for example.

Aren’t they just? I hope those skills don’t die off with all the cg generations

This movie is so much to me, and it’s been different things to me at different points in my life.

Compared to other Ghibli movies, this one seems to be middling critically but better loved among western and mainstream audiences due to the more conventional narrative structure that we’re accustomed to here. This is not a criticism; in fact I feel the same way and find myself frustrated by a lot of the wandering and meandering in some of his other movies. For some fans the “pointless” scenes are a feature and part of the charm; for others we’re checking our watches and appreciating the scenery, but we’re ready to move on. Howl’s is great in the sense that even what doesn’t explicitly move the action forward is incredibly memorable; I’m reminded of another Ghibli movie that did well with mainstream western audiences, “Spirited Away,” and that long weird elevator scene with the radish spirit.

HMC has characters that are really strongly defined outside of their aesthetics. The designs are wonderful, but Howl is insecure in spite of his talent and kind of a classic Byronic hero. Sophie is the better-done Bella from Twilight, in my opinion; there is no preternatural, inexplicable draw that the beautiful man experiences that makes him devoted to her. She’s a fairly plain and no-nonsense young lady who has carried on her father’s hat business with responsibility and diligence. When they meet for the first time Howl saves her from a couple of creepy soldiers but not because he’s fallen for her, because HIS ego gets a kick out of the prospect of one more little lady falling for him.

The Witch of the Waste HAS fallen for Howl, and I love how in spite of her age and power, she is the film’s cautionary tale about performing femininity for the male gaze! Aging harms her, physically and even spiritually and when she is finally stripped of her power she is even demented. Conversely, when she magically ages Sophie to become a crone, Sophie’s pragmatism persists because that’s just who she is; she is grateful to have her health, and her hardworking spirit and positive attitude shave the years off gradually over the course of the film (one of my favorite things about the movie is how her youth is gradually restored as she faces and overcomes trials.)

I also love how Sophie is not framed as a perfect long-suffering saint. The scene that ruins me every single time is the one after Howl claims that life is not worth living if he can’t be beautiful after messing up his hair dye. Sophie finally snaps on him and says that she’s never been beautiful a day in her life, and goes outside and just cries. The genius of Ghibli is that when the audience wants nothing more than to reach out and hug her, another character is there for just that. She pulls herself together and fixes the situation, with all the power of a woman who is not deifying the man in question and thirsting for his approval.

Howl expresses that the Witch of the Waste was once very beautiful, and so he pursued her. He then says that it turned out she wasn’t; time does that to everyone, though. Presumably it will even happen to Howl, and with the understanding that youth and lust fade, it actually gives Sophie’s substance an amazing advantage. She sees Howl for who he is, the wonderful and the terrible, and chooses to love him anyway, and because Sophie has always been Sophie, he can’t help but see her for who she is after he has been allowed to grow up a bit.

It’s just the most satisfying story. It’s rare to find someone it doesn’t connect with and I’m glad it’s got some love on Ovarit.

It's wholesome to see both Sophie and Howl deal with their specific hangups around superficial presentation. Sophie getting over that she's plain looking and not letting that define her. Howl getting over that his good looks is what defines his value (it sent him spiraling when he didn't meet his own high standards with the hair coloring incident).

I actually didn't like Howl the first time I saw it. But I grew to appreciate it when I saw it more recently. Its definitely something that hits you different when you're older

The book on which it is based is even better. Written by Dianna Wynne Jones. one of my favourite novelists.

Agreed. I watched the anime, and then bought the book, and there’s so much missing in the anime. I was really surprised to find some of it was set in Wales.

HMC is my go-to comfort film and I think I must have watched it at least a dozen times! The book is great too and there's a wonderful audiobook available on youtube.

The audiobook is on YouTube?! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for mentioning that here.

This thread inspired me to watch it (I am not into anime at all). First few minutes had me thinking there wasn’t nearly enough information about the strange situation, but it got a lot better once Sophie was old. I enjoyed it until about half an hour from the end, when it started to drag and feel repetitive. Beautifully animated, don’t know if I’d watch it again. It was almost as strange as The Triplets of Belleville (which I have watches several times).

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