In the land of Ingary, it is considered a great misfortune to be born the eldest of three. It means that you are destined to fail, no matter what you do, and Sophie Hatter, a meek little hat shop owner's daughter, firmly believes in this. She herself is the oldest of three in the town of Market Chipping, and her younger sisters are considered far more pretty and talented than she. But Sophie's miserable little world is turned upside down when she is transformed into an old hag by a woman known as the Witch of the Waste, and she leaves the hat shop to seek her fortune in the world. On the way, Sophie encounters a vicious dog stuck in a hedge, a scarecrow she accidentally brings to life, and most importantly, a huge moving castle owned by a wizard named Howl, who has many different rumors floating around the place about him. In the castle, she discovers a fire demon named Calcifer, who is bound to Howl by a contract he cannot tell Sophie about. Calcifer offers to free Sophie from her curse though, and return her to her normal form, if she breaks the contract between him and Howl. Sophie starts to get used to her life in the castle, including Howl's hopeless apprentice Micheal, the odd business the castle runs, and Howl himself and his peculiar little quirks. But the more times goes on, and the more Sophie grows to almost enjoy her time here, she starts to worry...will she ever be able to free Calcifer, and therefore, herself? And more importantly...does she even want to?