Saw this film (and Princess Mononoke) for the first time recently, and was absolutely blown away. Up until now, my favoruyite anime movie was probably either Spirited Away or Vampire Hunter D, but having seen both of these, it's most definitely changed to Howl's.
The characters, especially Howl himself, are so well created. I love the vocal talent in the film, too. Christian Bale did a great job, as did the rest of the cast.
My reason for posting this topic is to ask if you all knew that it was originally a book by a Welsh author named Dianna Wynn Jones? Also, that it has a sequel called Castle in the Air (which has nothing to do with another Miazaki/Ghibli film, Laputa: Castle in the Sky). Having done a bit of digging, I managed to find a snippet of an interview with Wynn Jones, and she is reported as saying that she absolutely adores the film, and loves what Miazaki did with it, but the castle itself is quite different to how she envisioned it. She points out that this isn't a criticism, she just saw it differently, but likes how it works in the film!
My friend is reading the book at the moment (after I told her that it was a book first and then a film), and hopefully I'll be able to borrow it from her as soon as she's finished with it. apparently, it is a little different from the film. Sophie's sister comes to the castle after falling in love with Howl as well, but doesn't recognise Sophie as an old woman. And, as I mentioned before, the castle is described very differently.
I just found it amazing that one of the most successful Japanese films of all time started out as a Welsh children's story!