Patriotic feelings are running high. The Royal arms is heading towards the battlefront. Soldiers showered with flowers march through cheering crowds. From time to time, the moving castle of the Wizard Howl has been spotted in the barren Wasteland. Howl is rumored to devour the hearts of beautiful young women.
In town, eighteen-year-old Sophie is walking, keeping apart from the crowd. Born and raised in the town lying at the edge of the Wasteland, she works at the hat shop of her deceased father. Her vivacious and popular younger sister Lettie is employed at Cesari’s, the finest café in town, where she attracts many customers with her charm. Lettie asks Sophie, “Are you sure you really want to become a hat maker?” But the serious Sophie can only slave over her hats, and wonder what it is that she really wants to do.
One day in town, Sophie meets the handsome young Howl who it seems is being pursued by someone. The young man suddenly soars high into the air with Sophie, taking her on a brief magical stroll above the town. Sophie’s heart is swept away as if in a dream. That night, the Witch of the Waste appears and casts a spell on Sophie, transforming her to a ninety-year-old woman. Unable to stay at home in such a state, Sophie packs some things and heads toward the desolate Wasteland, where she eventually slips into Howl’s Moving Castle.
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