Howl's Moving Castle
What is it about the Japanese imagination? I'm thinking not only about Hayao Miyazaki but also about Haruki Murakami, whose stories have that same random brilliance, that ability to take the story in unforeseen directions. Americans fret about coherence and continuity, about setting up gags and delivering the payoff, but there's something more free and unfettered about Miyazaki's narrative and visualizations. And the characters -- Howl, the Witch of the Waste, even Sophie -- have an unpredictability about them, an ambiguity in their motives and attitudes that would have been edited out of them in an American story conference.