Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl no Ugoku Shiro) is a masterpiece created by Hayao Miyazaki that premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2004 winning several well-deserved awards and nominations including the Oscars. If you are looking to watch more fantastical movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, check out our recommendations below. In this uniquely compelling film, the story is set in a warring town in Ingary, revolving around Sophie, a shy and soft hat maker who earns the wrath of the Witch of the Waste and is turned into an old woman., right after Sophie’s meeting with the childish, vain but kind wizard Howl who takes her in, and thus begins her magical adventure. Everything about this movie screams magic, even amidst the evident anti-war theme running a wonderful story of self-discovery and romance. The characters Sophie, Howl and even their iconic moving castle are as memorable as they are inspiring. The musical score by Joe Hisaishi adds so much character to the otherworldly and fantastical element of the film.
List of Movies Like Howl’s Moving Castle
- Spirited Away
- Hotarubi no Mori e
- Princess Mononoke
- Kimi no Na Wa
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky
- Nausicaa of The Valley of the Wind
- Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
- Children Who Chase Lost Voices
1. Spirited Away (2001)
Spirited Away is another Miyazaki masterpiece from Studio Ghibli that tells the story of Chihiro Ogino, a 10-year-old who accidentally crosses over into an alternate realm with ancient spirits and mysterious entities. She journeys through the realm along with Haku, to help break an unknown curse by a witch named Yubaba that turned her parents into pigs.
What makes both Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away my favourites is the transformative journey of the characters as they find themselves through experiences in the fantasy realms. Sophie and Chihiro are both ordinary characters that provide reliability for viewers in fantastically magical worlds. Since both are Ghibli Studio films, they share Miyazaki’s magic along with Joe Hisaishi’s dreamlike music. If you are looking for animated movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, this should be your first pick.
2. Hotarubi no Mori e (2011)
This one is a personal pick, as it was the first Japanese animated movie I watched. Hotarubi no Mori e is a romantic supernatural movie like Howl’s Moving Castle, that revolves around a young girl Hotaru and her accidental friendship with Gin, a young youkai who always wears a mask and avoids all physical contact with her.
In a way, both Howl and Gin are similar, because they are both lonely supernatural characters who go through an emotionally enlightening journey as they befriend the female protagonists. If Howl’s Moving Castle helped Sophie learn to love herself, Hotarubi no Mori e helps Hotaru learn the true meaning of love. The plot is pretty simplistic, but what draws you in is the light emotional atmosphere as well as the fresh feel of the art style. Surely, give this a watch if you’re looking for movies similar to Howl’s Moving Castle.
3. Princess Mononoke (1997)
Another Ghibli fan favourite is Princess Mononoke set in the feudal period of Japan. This story follows Emishi prince Ashitaka who gets involved as man and nature grow increasingly at odds as man continues to infringe into the territory of the beasts. As Ashitaka ventures out into the world, he realises just how dangerously close the world is to waging a full-blown war.
While environmental concerns are not necessarily the point in Howl’s Moving Castle, destruction of the world and anti-war are very strong themes throughout both these films. Miyazaki is an icon when it comes to presenting mature themes through children’s stories and it is brilliantly presented in Princess Mononoke. This is totally a film for you if you enjoy the underlying strengths in Ghibli movies like Howl’s Moving Castle.
4. Kimi no Na wa (2016)
Kimi no Na Wa, better known as Your Name is a romantic fantasy film that had people clutching their tissues with its heart-wrenching story. This movie is an excellent experience set in modern Japan that follows the story of a young girl Mitsuha Miyamizu and a boy Taki Tachibana who inexplicably end up swapping bodies. This film pushes the boundaries of eternal love and is by far one of the best pieces of media out there.
Both Howl’s Moving Castle and Kimi no Na Wa have stunning visuals, and share elements like strong female protagonists who are not the happiest with the lives they lead. Both the films also explore the idea of time and age and how their lives get tangled in them. This movie is an excellent pick for someone looking for great anime movies like Howl’s Moving Castle.
Also Read: Anime Like Noragami
5. The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
This movie follows the young but sickly Shou, who after being sent to his aunt’s house discovers Arrietty, who is a “borrower”, a miniature species who live off of tiny human possessions. Despite the dangers, Arrietty and Shou begin a heartwarming friendship between two different species of humankind.
Arrietty is a wholesome story of friendship and courage, the most important theme being the willingness to step out of your own comfort zone for something worthwhile. This is a theme Howl’s Moving Castle also shares, alongwith their courageous and curious female protagonists. You can never go wrong with a Ghibli choice when you’re looking for films like Howl’s Moving Castle.
6. Bubble (2022)
This Netflix post-apocalyptic film might be the most surprising pick in this list. Set in Tokyo,the world is overcome by bubbles and is inhabitable; however, people still live there and use parkour tournaments as a means to barter supplies. Young Hibiki meets Uta, who clearly is not human and they together win competitions but their lives are in danger. This movie is loosely based off of Han Anderson’s The Little Mermaid, as the ending proves.
Bubble was highly acclaimed for its beautiful animation and that is mostly why you might be drawn to watching this. Besides, the dreamlike atmosphere and the beauty of human relationship at its core make this a delightful watch for a film similar to Howl’s Moving Castle.
7. Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
As you have probably noticed, Miyazaki sort of rules this part of the animation scene. Laputa was the first film produced by Studio Ghibli, and is set in the late 19th Century, as it follows the adventures of Sheeta and Pazu who try their hardest to keep a powerful crystal safe from a host of other people attempting to attain it; all the while searching for a legendary floating castl
Apart from being films by Miyazaki and including fantasy castles, Laputa and Howl’s Moving Castle both films involve a quest to unravel mysteries and include wholesome character arcs, trials and adventure. Laputa gave me some very wholesome nostalgia, so this is definitely a family pick.
8. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Nausicaa is a post-apocalyptic film by Miyazaki and was his first collaboration with Joe Hisaishi who composed the score. Set in a futuristic world, the plot revolves around Nausicaa, a young princess who gets tangled in a struggle with a rival kingdom, Tolmekia, who wishes to use an ancient weapon to wipe out a forest full of giant insects.
This movie also focuses on the themes of conflict between man and nature, and the impending atmosphere of war. Again, like Howl’s Moving Castle, this movie showcases strong themes of anti-war sentiment. Much like most Ghibli anime films like Howl’s Moving Castle, this pick will take you down a pleasant nostalgic trip.
Also Read: Animated shows like Adventure Time
9. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (2018)
This fantasy drama film tells the story of Lorphs who live hundreds of years and keep their youthful appearances throughout their lives, but when the calm of this community is disturbed by others who wish to learn the secret to their longevity for themselves, Maquia is forced to flee. She then finds a lonely infant while trying to escape war and decides to raise him as her own.
This is Okada’s directorial debut set in a fantasy realm and details themes of relationships between different species of people. It is a good recommendation for people who like adventures and conflicts set in fantasy worlds, similar to movies like Howl’s Moving Castle.
10. Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011)
Also known as Journey to Agartha, this movie is packed with adventure, action and romance. It takes place in an extremely well-designed world of fiction, contrary to his other directorial ventures like Your Name and Weathering With You. This fantasy film revolves around Asuna, a young girl who meets Shun from Agartha, and together they embark on an adventure to unravel a mystery.
The animation style is beautiful and a little reminiscent of Ghibli Studio. Add to that the adventure in the fantasy world and it gives you vibes very similar to Howl’s Moving Castle. If you are a Miyazaki fan and are looking for similar movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, then you should check this one out.
Here are a few anime movies like Howl’s Moving Castle that didn’t make the list, however be sure to check them out as well:
- My Neighbour Totoro
- Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Whisper of the Heart