Sophie, a young woman living a quiet life (whose father has died), gets rescued by a strange man named Howl one night, and gets sucked into his world, after which she is cursed by the Witch of the Waste – to appear as an old woman. The way in which she enters events is more passive than most Girls Underground, but she does have some volition when she chooses to venture off into the waste to try to get the curse lifted. Her companions include a small boy who is apprentice to the wizard Howl, a fire demon, and an animate scarecrow (all male, as usual), and one could perhaps include Howl as well, although at first he is not present often. He does create for her a piece of home, which is a frequent part of the story archetype.
Her initial adversary is the Witch and her minions, the blob creatures. While Sophie attempts to find the Witch, she loses herself a little in her new guise as an old woman. Eventually it is revealed that there is a greater power to battle, and the witch that was once her adversary becomes another companion of sorts (a unique twist).
Sophie doesn’t really confront the adversary on her own, but she does solve the puzzle and regains herself.
“I need something of yours, Sophie. I can’t do it by myself. How about your eyes?”