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Miyazaki's Magic on Display in 'Moving Castle'

Hayao Miyazaki's main characters are usually children. But the Japanese filmmaker's animated work is also based on complex narratives that reflect on human nature, the environment and war. His latest is Howl's Moving Castle.

Miyazaki takes anime to sophisticated new levels. His past works include Spirited Away, which won an Academy Award in 2003, and Princess Mononoke, an epic adventure that earned Miyazaki much praise from U.S. critics.

Pete Doctor directed the Pixar film Monsters Inc, and helped bring Howl's Moving Castle to the United States. He says the latest Miyazaki work is "akin to having a particularly vivid dream."

Though Miyazaki usually writes his own stories, he based Howl's Moving Castle on a young adult novel by British author Diana Wynne Jones. It tells the story of a girl transformed into a 90-year-old by an antagonistic witch. Howl is a wizard who helps the young heroine.

Miyazaki, whose personal pacifism was shaped by World War II experiences in Japan, describes it as "a movie about running from the reality of participating in war" and "a movie profoundly influenced by real events."

He says children can handle subjects like war... and that, as an artist, he has a responsibility to tell them serious stories.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.