The practice of animation has progressed substantially from its early days as simple parlour tricks to where it stands today. Now, capable of communicating complex themes and messages to their audiences, animated films have become one of the most popular forms of media to discuss societal issues. Undoubtedly, one of the current masters of the craft is Hayao Miyazaki, of Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki’s films, while child-like in their appeal, are capable of touching upon greater social messages and themes, incorporating them into the central narrative. This essay will analyse two of the major themes that run through Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle. It will look at the strong anti-war sentiment of the film and the relationship between the young and old in society. It will also examine these two concepts in relation to contemporary Japanese society and Miyazaki’s own life.
Without doubt, the dominant theme in Howl’s Moving Castle is its pacifist message and this can be seen in the character interactions, behaviours and plot devices. The film takes place in a magical kingdom currently engaged in war with one of its neighbours. Many major characters in the film express their disdain of the war, with Madam Suliman, herself one of the chief architects of the war, calling it “foolish”. Similarly, any reluctance to fight in the war, either through cowardice or active pacifism, is seen as a redeeming trait by the characters in Howl’s Moving Castle (Lenburg, 2012, p93). The main