Does beauty matter? A look into Sophie Hatter in Howl’s Moving Castle
So hello guys,again my dearest apologies for the silence.. I have been busy doing Tumblr posts than neglecting this blog Thanks for the lovely comments for the posts! It definitely make me happy that you loved my analysis of the films
Today I will be re-visiting my favorite anime film Howl’s Moving Castle. I thought instead of putting a full analysis,I shall do it as a motivational post for us girls and also a in-depth look at that classic. Yes I read that novel of the film (if you guys are interested on the story it was from the late Diane-Wynne Jones) and I just hated it like crazy because I feel that Howl in the book is not so charming and I don’t feel much for Sophie
So guys if you did not watch this film,basically it’s about a hat maker Sophie was cursed by a spell after an encounter the mysterious (and handsome) Howl,by The Witch of Waste went through the journey to break that curse. I just fall in love with that film for its beautiful animation and a wonderful plot when I was 15. Of course any girl would be totally swooned by how damn good-looking Howl is (I dare anyone not to be swooned by Howl) and secretly wished that you are doing that sky walk with him. ( I would LOL)
However that is not the point that we have the most glorious liferuiner in animation history in our screens,what I am focusing on is Sophie’s journey. To me what struck me from this film again was Sophie’s character how she stopped being self-critical about herself and learnt how to accept for who she was.
Pixar’s latest addition Brave may bring applause for girls for making Merida a bushy red-headed with some fat,however Miyasaki did that treatment a while ago in Howl’s Moving Castle. Sophie is not your typical good-looking anime girl with those big sparkly eyes and fabulous hair that you seen in Sailor Moon. She was like us,bushy eyebrows,plain looking hair and not so much a great figure. However she seemed to be insecure as she did not interact with her fellow hat-makers and she said to her sister “that I rather stayed in the shop because I am the eldest.” as she fear that no one would appreciate her looks.
On the otherhand Howl was very handsome,but however he seemed to worry about his looks than his fellow companions as he lamented after Sophie somewhat screwed up his hair dyes-” I give up. I see not point in living if I can’t be beautiful.” While it was pretty hilarious to hear Howl crying and scolding Sophie for screwing up his spells,it proves to be heartbreaking for Sophie. To her those potions does not even matter to her,she still feel like an ugly woman.
It sounds like us,we often feel so insecure that we would try everything to make ourselves feel better physically. I heard so many many tragic stories of young girls wanting to have plastic surgery and it breaks my heart. However she does not cry for long after Howl’s tanturn,no she instructed Markl to help her switch on the hot water to bathe him and she even bring the slimy Howl up by her own hands. She seems to forget about herself and her own needs and instead focus on that little family. That is bravery,instead of wallowing over our insecurites-we should focus that negative energy on helping others in our positive way.
As the film goes,the spell she was plagued slowly weaned off by her strong spirit,you may seen in most Miyasaki-san films of strong females who defy odds. When times are rough for the house and Calcifer was poisoned by the peeping bug,she encouraged him to stay strong as a family unit,it may sound like stories of women in WW2 who stayed strong while their husbands are away for war which we could link to Miyasaki’s experiences encountering WW2 in Japan himself. It applied to us when times are tough for us,whenever it was studies or your life. As Sophie encouraged Calcifer-“They say that the best blaze burns brightest, when circumstances are at their worst.” (I prefer the Japanese translation though)Never ever lose hope for yourself. Perserve against all odds no matter what.
That scene when Calcifer used Sophie’s hair as fuel was impactful after she said that quote,to me I seen her long hair as a symbol of her insecurity and her self-esteem. When Calcifer ate that braid as a fuel,it shows that Sophie is no longer looking at herself lowly. Girls please let go off that questioning if you are worth of yourself. Once you could let go of that burden,you could be free no matter what.
There are times where we actually doubt how beautiful we are,especially when others can see how beautiful we are. When Sophie asked Howl sincerely if he is going to be a monster and whenever she could be accepted. I just love Howl sincerely accept her and said “Sophie you are beautiful.” Howl can seen her inner beauty that he even stopped his cowardly ways of running away from his teacher’s spells and face the world as it was. Even Sophie even help Howl to calm down when both were encountered by a spell. It was a positive feeling for the people that met Sophie,Sophie was the first person who cared for Turnip-Head and in reslut cause a break in his curse as a handsome Prince Justin. Markl learnt to loosen a bit from his stiff ways as he cried to Sophie not to leave that family. It shows you by accepting yourself,we eventually impact people’s lives as Sophie did to her friends.
I know that it was difficult to swallow,Miyasaki-san asked us what is true beauty. Not it was not keeping up the appearances that Howl prided himself by his 10001 potions. Beauty do fade as it was seen in The Witch of The Waste,however it was the spirit that counts if we stop putting negative thoughts in our heads and start believing that we are beautiful ourselves. Like Sophie,we could impact lives and of course ourselves. I would leave with you an Avatar The Last Airbender quote (Yes I watched the last few epis of Avatar)
We may be confused on who we are and why we want to do,but slowly we could gain that strength soon.