The Studio Ghibli film Howl’s Moving Castle features a loveable cast of characters with some great lines. Here are the most memorable quotes, ranked.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) is a Studio Ghibli animation driven by the spellbinding storytelling of Hayao Miyazaki. The plot follows Sophie, an apprentice at a hat shop who has an encounter with the Witch of the Waste that leaves her in the form of an old woman. Sophie goes on a journey to undo the spell and finds herself in the company of The Great Wizard Howl, Calcifer, and Markl.
The movie has held a special place in the hearts of many for its wit, beauty, and complex characters. This list ranks the most memorable quotes from the movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle. For extra witty banter and hilarious quotes, read the novel by Diana Wynne Jones.
Updated on January 10th, 2021 by Mark Birrell: Howl’s Moving Castle has inspired so many people with its gorgeous designs and thought-provoking storytelling that it should come as no surprise that the movie is full of memorable quotes that stand out in fans’ minds. Accordingly, we’ve added an extra 5 to expand our list to the 15 most memorable quotes taken from (mostly) the dubbed version of the movie featuring the voice talents of actors like Christian Bale and Billy Crystal. They may not be what fans of the original translation know best they certainly capture all of the charm and magic of the story.
15. “This Isn’t So Bad, Now Is It? You’re Still In Good Shape And Your Clothes Finally Suit You.”
Sophie has such an upbeat attitude no matter how frightening and unbelievable her situation becomes and it’s hard not to get swept up by her infectious spirit.
She takes her transformation into an old woman very well, all things considered, and still finds a way to look on the bright side despite having no one to help her with her curse or any way of knowing how to break it, or even where to start. As she points out, she’s already prepared for old age in many ways and her indomitable sense of humor is almost kind of inspiring.
14. “It’s Been A Pleasure Meeting You, Even If You Are My Least Favorite Vegetable.”
One of the most memorable characters in the entire movie barely speaks at all, and not until the very end of the story, but they’re still a huge presence throughout despite also being very limited in terms of motion too, most of the time.
This is, of course, Turnip-Head, a scarecrow that Sophie finds in the Waste and puts upright, causing him to follow her around and even help her out. As it seems like they’re parting ways for good near the beginning of the story, Sophie gives him this warm and funny farewell. Little does she know that he will play a much greater role in the course of events.
13. “It Can’t Be Good For The Table.”
Not long after she arrives at his moving castle, Howl quickly senses that Sophie has something in her pocket that even she herself didn’t realize had been planted there by the Witch of the Waste. It’s a small piece of paper with some kind of spell written on it. Howl reads it aloud:
“You who swallowed a falling star, oh heartless man. Your heart shall soon belong to me.”
The paper then burns a spell into the wood of the table causing Howl to be terrifically nonchalant about the very serious sounding magic that had just been used.
12. “I Can’t Stand The Fire And Gunpowder. Those Dopey Guys Have Absolutely No Manners.”
When talking about the war raging throughout the background of the story, Howl and Calcifer express their distaste for the conflict in general and don’t display much allegiance to anyone.
Calcifer brings up this line, clearly displaying Howl and Calcifer’s shared attitude to crude or brutish behavior, which is in direct contrast to many other wizards who have joined up to willingly transform themselves into monsters.
11. “One Thing You Can Always Count On Is That Hearts Change.”
This line comes right at the end of the movie after hearts have been mended, quite literally, and, though it may seem a little cheesy when removed from context, it fits very well into the emotions of the finale.
This comes after the reveal that Turnip-Head was, in fact, the missing prince that had caused the war in the story and must quickly accept that even though he was transformed back into his human form by a true-love’s-kiss from Sophie, she is in love with Howl.
10. “I Wonder What Howl Disguised Himself As? Surely Not A Crow. Can’t Be A Pigeon, He’s Too Flamboyant For That.”
Sophie has a savage personality. In fact, this is just a glimpse of the confident person she becomes during the film’s progression. Sophie went from being meek and likened to a mouse, to not caring what anyone thought of her. When Howl plans for Sophie to go talk to Madame Suliman, he tells her that he will follow her in disguise.
Sophie spends the better half of her journey to the Palace wondering what Howl could be. She sees a man flying in the sky on a plane with a woman in the back and says that would probably be him. However, she settles on an old dog and finds she was wrong all along.
9. “It’s Not Easy Being Old.”
This particular line comes not from the dubbed version of the movie but rather the original English translation. Young Sophie in old form walks slowly with her arched back and creaky knees. Old age hits her like’s she’s aged 70 years all at once, which she has. Although she says that being old isn’t easy, Sophie doesn’t mind it all that much. Since it’s her magic and stubbornness keeping the spell from being lifted, she doesn’t have as many aches as she used to.
She feels peaceful staring out at the scenery and loves that she can behave any way she wants without feeling embarrassed. In the novel, she realizes that the Witch of the Waste shortened her life by a good many years, something she hadn’t thought of before.
8. “Seems Everyone In This Family’s Got Problems.”
When Turnip-Head turns up to help Markl and Sophie pull the plane wreckage out of the castle, Howl says they have another addition to the family. He can detect there is some strong witchcraft surrounding Turnip-Head, and he’s right of course.
In the film, Turnip-Head is Prince Justin, transformed back into his human form by true love’s kiss. Unfortunately for Turnip-Head, his true love is in love with someone else. Justin along with Sophie, Calcifer, The Witch of the Waste, Howl, and Markl, all have some problems.
7. “I Give Up. I See No Point In Living If I Can’t Be Beautiful.”
When Sophie goes on her cleaning rampage, Howl won’t let her kill any of the spiders on the ceiling, so with difficulty, she only clears away the webs. He likes spiders because they keep trying, always spinning their webs. He also tells her not to get carried away with the cleaning, which she does.
When Howl is sick and in bed, he offers an explanation to Sophie. Howl doesn’t believe he will be able to love anyone properly. He goes and woos women with his guitar and charm but doesn’t feel he can truly love if he isn’t beautiful, because of his curse. But like the spiders, he tries again and again, earning him the reputation of a heart-eater.
6. “They Say That The Best Blaze Burns The Brightest When Circumstances Are At Their Worst.”
Calcifer is reluctant to bow his head down to anyone but Howl. He has Howl’s heart and Howl saved his life. They are linked by life itself. Sophie is the only one who can save both of them because of her magical ability to talk life into things.
Calcifer becomes close to Sophie and she finds a way of making him do what she wants. From their interactions, this magical quote came to pass. Although she is referring to Calcifer and his literal flame, it is also a quote that ties the entire movie together.
5. “He’s Calling The Spirits Of Darkness… I Saw Him Do This Once Before When A Girl Dumped Him!”
“Despair! Anguish! Horror!” When Sophie messes up Howl’s beauty potions when she is cleaning the bathroom, Howl says she’s gone too far. He starts having a tantrum, and green slime starts secreting from him as if he’s melting. It pools everywhere in the castle. Markl’s quote explains just how much of a drama queen Howl is.
But this is nothing compared to his behavior in the book. Howl’s moaning evacuates a whole town, and he gets a cold and says he’s dying from neglect and boredom causing him to call Sophie nosy every chance he gets. He at one point says, “You’re a dreadfully nosy, horribly bossy, appallingly clean old woman. Control yourself. You’re victimizing us all.”
4. “After The War, They Won’t Recall They Ever Were Human.”
The war is a pivotal part of the film’s plot, while it seldom exists in the novel. In the movie, Howl is summoned by the King to partake in the war. Howl is surrounded by things that he can’t control. He’s shown as a coward, running away from his duty.
The war is a battle fought from the shallow intentions of callous leaders. Howl doesn’t have anything to fight for. But when Sophie comes into his life Howl feels he is no longer a coward because he has something to defend, to keep safe. In reference to this, Howl tells Sophie, “Sorry, I’ve had enough of running away, Sophie. Now I’ve got something I want to protect. It’s you.”
3. “There You Are Sweetheart, Sorry I’m Late, I Was Looking Everywhere For You.”
Many fans love this quote which is the very first line said by Howl in the film. When they first meet, Howl comes by her side while Sophie is being accosted by two men, calling her a little mouse. Howl appears behind Sophie and says that he’s been looking for her everywhere.
Some think it is Howl’s way of getting the men to back away while others believe that the first half of the quote would suffice for that purpose. However, Howl saying he was looking for her everywhere is because Sophie came to him in the past when he caught the falling star, and told him to find her.
2. “Here’s Another Curse For You – May All Your Bacon Burn.”
A curse no one would wish to fall under. Calcifer is one sassy fire demon. When Sophie first sees him she thinks he looks rather evil. This line is memorable for its wit and humor. Studio Ghibli is well known for its remarkable ability to turn objects, elements, blobs with masks, and animals into incredibly fantastic characters that greatly contribute to the story.
Calcifer is no exception. He is one of the main characters and a key plot twist. Even though Calcifer is freed from Howl and survives the separation, he comes back saying he missed everyone, ultimately using the excuse that it looks like it’s going to rain.
1. “A Heart’s A Heavy Burden.”
Perhaps the most memorable quote is Sophie’s line, “A heart’s a heavy burden,” when she places Howl’s heart back in his chest. When Howl wakes up he says he feels terrible, like there is a weight on his chest. Howl spends the majority of his life without his heart in his chest.
Mrs. Pentstemmon, Howl’s mentor in the book, tells Sophie she fears that Howl will become the same as the Witch of the Waste, that he will turn dark if his curse isn’t lifted. Thankfully, Howl was saved by Sophie in the nick of time.