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Howl's Moving Castle: an Orchestrated Hodgepodge of Mediums, Genres and Narratives.

Howl's Moving Castle is an animated film adapted from Dianne Wynne Jones' fantasy novel of the same name. It was directed and chiefly organized by Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli team in 2004, 27 years after the novel's initial publication. The film was successful in its own right, grossing 235 million worldwide and gaining an academy award nomination for best animated feature in 2005.

Adaptation, The Bad Boy

What these statistics fail to reflect is that the media being adapted (the novel) which this film is portraying, and the fantasy genre being portrayed in both works, have been scrutinized for centuries and millenia, respectively. Why would the artistic development of the animated film adaptation be exempt from such scrutiny?

What is in a name?

Instead one may be understood as fostering development in the other, with the novel acting as a 'database' a film's team has access to while at the same time 'drawing' from countless others, only taking a name from what it is most directly adapting, "Howl's Moving Castle". Wynne Jones had certainly done this as well, as all authors and artists of the innumerable forms we will have seen before the end of time. Film adaptations at least, in this sense, deviate helpfully in that they give us something more solid to hold on to like a title, or note in the opening credits; a sign for direct reference.

Applying Derrida's Deconstruction

In his introduction to the Theory and Practice of Adaptation, Stam credits the Deconstruction of Derrida as an explanation of this information exchange from one author to the next (and so on). "The 'original' always turns out to be partially 'copied' from something earlier: The Odyssey goes back to anonymous oral formulaic stories, Don Quixote goes back to chivalric romances,"(8) and so too does "Howl's Moving Castle" draw from the wealthy database that is its historical form of fantasy, as well as a number of other sources. The word original here is meant to be taken lightly, Stam argues alongside the Derridean concept, as the 'original' would not have become that at all if not for the 'copy' that gave it such status, and following, this new 'copy' may just become an 'original' for another form.

Stir in Additional Conventions, to Taste

At first glance, the transition from a fantasy novel to an animated film is not so outlandish. It is a commonplace occurrence in modern society, as if the animated medium lends a specific hand to the fantastical elements. In this sense, "Howl's Moving Castle" is following the practically expected migration from one medium to another.
The film adds additional complexity in it's adapting of a novel due to the fact that both forms, the English fantasy novel and the Japanese "Anime", follow particularly stark conventions which are then being made to mingle.

The Presence of Multiculture

Stam also marks the implications and concerns of cultural currents, or identity, for example an idea of Europeanness: A revisionist view of literary history... whereby the novel begins in Europe and then 'spreads' around the world, when in fact the novel as 'prose fiction of a certain length' can be traced back to Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, India, and so forth.(11) I find a similar idea in both versions of Howl's Moving Castle, an Englishness if not European, while at the same time both have elements that may be traced back to any number of conventions developed (in a number of locations) throughout history.

Constantly Complicating
As time moves on, we become more and more distant from the origins of things (conventions, genres, themes, elements) and are left mainly (overwhelmingly so) with what they have inspired. Tracing so far back is made increasingly difficult and convoluted with each passing year. This brings to question the significance of originality, examined again in the Derridean critique of origins and also by Genette's concept of Hypertextuality touched on in Stam's introduction.