The compulsive passion and furious zeal of the classic tattoo element, fire, can be given more personality when rendered as Calcifer, the snarky yet charming fire demon in Studio Ghibli’s revered film Howl’s Moving Castle.
Calcifer is the quintessential antihero, as his dancing flames are both captivating and dangerous.
He may be stuck in cohorts with the villain, but Howl describes Calcifer as the “weakest point” to his malevolent defenses, so it’s no surprise that Calcifer is an aid to the heroic protagonist as well. This duality is seen in his most famously inked quotes: the elated exclamation “She likes my spark!” and the unforgivable curse “May all of your bacon burn!”
Calcifer provides power and warmth to Howl’s castle, which makes him the ideal tattoo for anyone that harnesses a similar magical energy. Bold black lines and vibrant colors can accomplish the original anime look; other raw artistic approaches seen in Calcifer tattoos include watercolor style and sketch style. Calcifer is bright red, yellow, and orange in the film, but he was described as blue in the book, which furthers his paradoxical nature and speaks to his teardrop shape.
Given the versatility of fire in meaning and form, it would be effortless to incorporate Calcifer into any collage and along any curvature of the body. Picture him shrieking at the end of Charmander’s tail, roaring under a pan of piping hot breakfast, goofily slipping off of a tree branch, excitedly illuminating a lantern, being engulfed by curls of smoke, or however you may imagine a great ball of fire!