Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki
A Japanese anime based on a book by the same name, Howl’s Moving Castle shows traits of at least two fairy tales. Howl is a powerful wizard who lives with his fire demon, Calcifer, and apprentice Markl. He meets a young woman named Sophie who is cursed to old age by the Witch of the Waste. Sophie finds refuge as the castle’s cleaning lady and custodial nursemaid.
Sophie is a grotesque crone. Similarly, Howl is rumored to eat the hearts of girls, just as Baba “eats people like chickens.” Howl’s castle moves about on fowl’s legs, while Calcifer keeps his heart in the hearth, a gesture that no doubt resonates with Baba who gets her Zzz’s sleeping on top of the stove.
Because he physically gave his heart to Calcifer at a young age, Howl is not emotionally mature. He is able to fly both as a human and by turning into a bird, which fits J.M. Barrie’s explanation that Peter can fly because all children “are part-bird.” Sophie fills the role of Wendy, who visits Neverland in her later years each spring to keep house.
This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by Fairy Tale Review intern Catherine Walker and poetry editor Jon Riccio.