Howl\'s Moving Castle, The Art of Book Vol. #1 -

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Mania Grade: NA

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 34.99
  • Pages: 256
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0049-3
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Howl\'s Moving Castle, The Art of Book Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     June 07, 2005
Release Date: July 05, 2005

Howl\'s Moving Castle, The Art of Book Vol.#1
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Studio Ghibli
Translated by:Yuji Oniki
Adapted by:

What They Say
Based on the novel by British author Diana Wynne Jones, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, Hayao Miyazaki brings to life a fantastical time in 19th century Europe, when science and magic defined the popular zeitgeist. There’s a foppish wizard named Howl, a pesky witch from the wastelands, an anthropomorphic chimney fire and a young girl who carries a most unusual curse. And, of course, there’s the moving castle…a towering, omnipresent structure that dominates the landscape.

A generous collection of concept sketches, fully rendered character and background drawings, paintings and cell images, THE ART OF HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE brings the movie into your library. Along with the stunning visuals, the book also presents interviews and comments with the production staff, including key points straight from the director.

The Review
Time to coincide with the arrival of the movie into U.S. theaters, the art book for How's Moving Castle is a fascinatingly detailed piece that examines Miyazaki and Ghibli's approach to the material from concept to completion.

I haven't actually had my hands on any of the art books released in the US by Viz before this one, but after receiving this volume I am duly impressed and hope that they all achieve this level of quality. The large coffee table hardbound book has a real weight to it that gives it a certain gravitas. The cover has one of the detailed conceptual pieces of the castle itself and it's looked and detail will remind anyone who picked up the Nausicaa books instantly of who worked on this. Keeping to tradition the back cover is a blank white piece and the spine is white as well but does list the title and publisher. Inside the book, the paper is of excellent stock and is nice and thick, allowing you to really enjoy turning the pages and giving the colors used here a real sense of the beauty that they must be on the screen.

With the excellent paper stock that's here, the various types of artwork used throughout are beautifully represented in this book. The conceptual artwork pages, be they black and white sketches or full colored pieces, are just gorgeous. I loved the way the colored sketches look in a lot of these rough drafts since it's almost like you could rub off some of them since they're so detailed and vivid. When it comes to reproducing scenes from the film itself, it does an outstanding job. Some of the pictures where we see the vivid blues from the water are just surprisingly good looking and only makes me wonder how much more vivid the film itself is. The pages where the artwork fills up both pages and bleeds off look fantastic and the amount of detail that's visible makes this really worth poring over and spending time with each page.

While I have no experience with translating, my guess is that art books face their own challenges in bringing over but I would guess that for the most part they're somewhat easier since it's more of a technical discussion and there's generally not much use for slang or real sound effects or anything. The text throughout here is standard looking stuff that works well and reading through the various sections it's all straightforward and easy to read. Most of it is dry in its own sense since it is describing the scenes you see, but the sections where the various staffers talk about what they work on come across well and read just right.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This book is a collection of concept sketches, concept art, backgrounds, character designs (including painted versions) and still images for Hayao Miyazaki's animated film, Howl's Moving Castle, based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones. All the concept sketches are by Miyazaki. Concept art and backgrounds are by the art staff supervised by art directors Yoji Takeshige and Noboru Yoshida. Character designs are by supervising animators Akihiko Yamashita and Takeshi Inamura. The background and still images for this book were created from digital data.

The art book for Howl's Moving Castle is both a joy and something that I can't quiet enjoy fully just yet. Having not seen the movie, I was highly curious to see some images and read some of what went into the production but at the same time I didn't want to be spoiled by reading everything here. Especially since the back of the book has the English language script inside and that would certainly reveal everything, even though it wouldn't play out the same in the film.

Having read other art books in the past, both for Japanese films and for US made films, I'm able to look at it objectively from that point of view. This is a very well made art book that covers a lot of things, especially for a fan of Miyazaki's conceptual work. As much as I like his end product stuff, there's just something so much more natural and earthy about his conceptual style that it feels more alive and real. This book provides a huge amount of those pieces as well as backgrounds by others on the staff and some great looking full color pieces.

The interview sections cover all sorts of staffers and they talk about their experiences on the film, from where they started and how they laid out their progress in trying to keep with what Miyazaki had, such as only having his conceptual designs to go by and no storyboards for months, to the details of how the CG material was put together and what elements made it in and what didn't. The area that will be fascinating for me in revisiting this book will be to see what conceptual scenes didn't make it into the film but were included here and what some of the differences are.

One area I was really happy to see was that they included a couple of pages showcasing the original Japanese theatrical posters which is also followed up by some of the promotional pieces as well as a look at the cover of the book that Tokuma Shoten released that was the translated version of the original novel by Wynne Jones. This is often the kinds of things you don't see but makes an art book all the more appreciated by the fans of the film.

From what I could read and see of this book, it's an absolute treasure and will make any Howl's Moving Castle fan happy to own since it provides so much in the way of concept to reality, discussion on choices made and another way to revisit the film without actually having to watch it. The book has a real sense of weight and quality to it that just feels right. I can't wait to actually see the movie so that I can come back and really pore over this word for word.


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