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5 Conversations to Have with Your Kids After "Howl's Moving Castle"

Common Sense Media logo Common Sense Media 6/1/2017 Frannie Ucciferri

Howl's Moving Castle is one of Hayao Miyazaki's most successful films, both in Japan and worldwide. This enchanting anime classic brings together stunning animation and surreal imagery to tell a fantasy story unlike any other. Viewers of all ages can enjoy the whimsical characters living together in the titular castle, such as Howl, a pacifist wizard who can turn himself into a bird, and Sophie, a young woman cursed to look 90 years old. And with so many kid-friendly messages about compassion, aging, and more, there's a lot for families to talk about after watching the movie.

Throughout the United States in 2017, Studio Ghibli is releasing several of its most popular kids' movies on the big screen. Type in your city or ZIP code here to find out whether Howl's Moving Castle is showing at a theater near you. Then, after the movie, try some of these discussion questions with your kids:

  • What does the movie have to say about old age? When Sophie was put under a spell, how did she react to her new appearance? Was her reaction different from what you expected? Do you agree that appearances can be deceiving? What's more important: your inner self or what you look like?

  • What were the messages about war in this movie? Do you agree with Howl's decision not to fight? Why do you think people go to war?

  • What parts of the movie did you find frightening and/or scary? Why? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
  • How do the characters in Howl's Moving Castle demonstrate compassion? Why is this an important character strength? Can generosity (aka "heart") ensure that good will eventually be done?

  • Why do you think this movie is considered an anime classic? How is it different from the majority of Hollywood animated movies?

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