Anime Movie Review: Mary and The Witch's Flower

From the proteges of Studio Ghibli.

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Anime Movie Review: Mary and The Witch's Flower

Studio Ponoc is a new animation studio that was formed by a group of animators that left the iconic Studio Ghibli to start things on their own. 'Mary and the Witch's Flower' is their first full length project and it was released in Japan in July 2017.

Since then, the movie has been released in several other countries in Asia and has a limited release in North America with more releases in the works. The film is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi who previously worked on Studio Ghibli projects like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.

The film is based on a novel by Mary Stewart called 'The Little Broomstick' and follows the conventional Studio Ghibli practice of adapting novels into animated features. Previous examples of this include Diana Wynne Jone's 'Howl's Moving Castle' and Ursula k. LeGuin's 'Earthsea'.

via Cartoon Brew

Studio Ponoc's debut offering has an animation style that is very similar to previous Ghibli films, with bright colours and lots of hand drawn pastels. Mary and the Witch's Flower follows the story of Mary Smith, a young girl sent to live with her great aunt Charlotte in the English countryside. 

There she meets Peter and two cats named Gibb and Tib. The cats lead her to an enchanted blue flower, which gives her magical powers for a short time. 

As a movie, Mary and the Witch's Flower is lighthearted and fun. This is somewhat of a departure from usual Ghibli movies, despite the similarities in animation style. Many of the Ghibli movie tropes have made it into this one, including the theme of environmental protection. 

However, Mary and the Witch's Flower lacks the emotional depth that usually characterizes a Ghibli movie. Hayao Miyazaki, especially, likes to dwell on one particularly brooding emotion and deliver it fully to the audience before moving on. That's is evidently lacking in this feature film where each scene seems to fly by very quickly. 

via Nerdist

With that being said, Studio Ponoc consists of a rather young team of animators, directors, editors and such who can still improve their craft. Even the veterans at Ghibli needed decades of practice before putting out the full length masterpieces they're known for.

Hopefully in the years to come, Studio Ponoc will find their own distinct voice and identity, and put out stories that will set them apart from their predecessors.


 Cover image via The Verge

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