This post is part of the Reverse Thieves’ Secret Santa Project.
I was given three shows by my Secret Santa: Howl’s Moving Castle, Midori Days, and the first season of Slayers. I was able to complete the first two, which I’ll talk about here.
I’ve seen this show before on TV. The premise was weird–a shy girl who crushes on a delinquent gets inexplicably turned into his right hand. Shenanigans ensue. It sounds like one of those lewd shows, but it’s more of the standard romantic comedy fare! (I’m glad.) By Midori’s influence, Seiji opens up to other people while keeping the secret of his hand wrapped up tight. It wasn’t a bad show, but it was merely average. I couldn’t help but think that I’ve grown out of such anime, and the romantic comedy genre doesn’t appeal to me without a strong hook (unlike, say, Toradora).
The only real memorable thing that sticks out is the ending. Midori loses her memory of being Seiji’s right hand, but Seiji has developed enough feelings to ask her out. I can’t decide if it’s sweet (he asked her out) or annoying (she lost her memories). I’m leaning toward the latter, because the overall execution felt like all those other episodes didn’t matter.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Howl’s Moving Castle was one of those Ghibli movies I wanted to watch, but never got to it. Well, now was my chance!
The film turned out to be a barely coherent mess. There was a whole lot of things happening, character motivations were confusing, and the plot moved from spectacle to spectacle. It should have been a simple film: Sophie, an ordinary woman, is cursed by a witch to become an old lady. She sets off in a journey and discovers untapped reserves of strength within her, and saves Howl, a wizard whose heart was stuck in childhood. At it’s core, it’s a story about the power of love. In the film’s few lucid moments, Sophie stands up for Howl, when everyone else cannot, will not, or are driven away by fear.
I’m not sure where it all went wrong. But the movie seems cramped with plot points that it seesaws between attempting to resolve them, or focusing on Sophie’s emotional core, and everything turns out half-baked. Sophie strikes a deal with the fire demon Calcifer, tasked to free him from Howl’s clutches in exchange for her youth. We are reminded of this deal throughout the movie and that it is important, but the action set pieces distract us and take valuable screen time in that its resolution seems but an afterthought.
All in all, I thought Howl’s Moving Castle was a weak film, weaker than, say, Ponyo, which was straightforwardly charming.