My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I bought this years ago when Miyazaki's brilliant adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones's wonderful book came out and just reread it tonight. Honestly it's less manga than it is screencaps of the movie but it is pretty none the less.
It's a rare thing that I love a movie that differs so wildly from its source but I think that is owed to both how wonderful characters Howl and Sophie are and Miyazaki's masterful storytelling.
Sophie's country is at the brink of war but her own life revolves around her little hat shop while her glamorous mother and sister are busy moving up in the world. Sophie, seeing herself as the practical plain Jane ends up crossing paths with the wizard Howl, who has a reputation for eating girl's hearts. Surprisingly he helps Sophie but this makes the Witch of the Waste think Sophie is important to him and she curses Sophie turning her into an old woman.
Sophie goes off in search of Howl and finds his castle and his young apprentice Markl. She even tames Calcifer, Howl's fire demon and this volume ends with Howl returning to see her in his home.
While this was nice to have, I never did buy the rest. Instead I bought the anime which was more satisfying.
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