My wife and I had the opportunity to see a pre-release screening of this film on Friday night.
The raw verdict: Awesome!
The details: I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of anime, but I'm becoming a pretty big fan of Miyazaki's films. HMC is just plain gorgeous! I'm amazed at the amount of detail that Miyazaki crams into his scenes. The beautiful thing is that it's not just detail for detail's sake. It all serves the story, the moment, the character, etc. It all has a purpose.
And the characters....wow! The variety of characters that he puts into his films is always amazing. Granted, this film is an adaptation of a young-adult novel, and I'm quite curious to see how the characters appear in the original book (my wife ordered it today, so I'll eventually be able to satisfy that curiosity). Despite that, it totally feels like a Miyazaki original if you look at the cast of characters, how they're presented on the screen in both design and animation, and how he treats them throughout the course of the story.
I could go on, but there's really no point. It's just an awesome film. Score another winner for Miyazaki!