1. It's an animated film for children/young adults that wasn't boring or obvious. In some ways, the plot is just ridiculous*, but it's fun and exciting to see where things are going next. I'm not familiar with the source material, but Miyazaki delightfully animates a fun and interesting fantasy world.
2. The anime style brought me back to my Sailor Moon obsession days. Dubbed over cartoons are the best since the lips never exactly match up anyway. I saw Howl's Moving Castle in its original Japanese with subtitles, but I've heard the English dubbing is fantastic**.
3. A gorgeous and romantic film score written by Joe Hisaishi. The 3/4 time signature gives it levity and the feeling of an ever-turning Viennese waltz. A good soundtrack can get me through any film, but in this case the score made the film even more magical.
3. The side characters/animals are neither obnoxious or overwhelming. I appreciate that. They also fit into the group regardless of what form they are in (most are bound by a spell in some form) which I think is a fantastic message.
4. The main character is a young woman who looks old for most of the film because of a curse. The animated films I grew up with (Disney) glorified in making the princesses as pretty as possible, but Howl's Moving Castle is more interested in how Sophie gains confidence in herself and makes do with what she has (even if that's a decrepit old body).
5. The love interest, Howl, also has a character arc and has to grow up and be responsible in the course of the film. And even when he does step up to protect Sophie, Sophie's the one that solves everyone's problems in the end. I love movies that loves spunky women. And I love it when the male lead has a personality and grows as a character***.
6. Anyway, this is my first Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki film, and I enjoyed it immensely. I don't usually seek out animated movies, but I'll have to check out more if they're all this fun, lovely, and magical.
*I'm still not sure if everything even makes sense, but I'll go with it.
**And has Christian Bale voicing the role of Howl. Yum.
***Edward Cullen is not an interesting or appealing character since nothing ever changes. Yeah, I just went there again.