The moment I first saw the teaser trailer for this film, I was excited. I have been a life long fan of Studio Ghibli, with their films being a major influence in my decision to become a writer. As such, I was filled with anticipation as to what the new spin off studio, Studio Ponoc, would bring to the table. Yoshiaki Nishimura and other former members of Studio Ghibli, including director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, formed Studio Ponoc in 2015 with “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” being announced as their first feature film. The film, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayash and based on The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, tells the story of a young girl named Mary who discovers that she has a mysterious power to become a witch after finding a strange flower, which lasts for one night only.
When the film was announced for its United States premiere, I immediately bought my ticket. I had not been so excited for an anime film in quite some time. As I watched the film, I felt the same magic that I had felt when I first saw the classics of Studio Ghibli. When the film ended, I was deeply impressed by what I had seen. I felt it surpassed the director’s previous two films, “The Secret World of Arrietty” and “When Marnie Was There”, both of which I enjoyed as well.
The visuals were stunning and had a classic Studio Ghibli feel in their detailed backgrounds and colorful images. Mary makes for a strong and likable heroine whose get up and go no matter what attitude makes you want to root for her throughout the entire film. The other characters were also well done with the former broom-flying teacher, Flanagan, being a highlight of the film. The use of magic in this film was one of the most interesting characteristics in the story, as it blurs the line between science and magic.
Overall, I found the film to be fantastic and a definite must see. I look forward to what Studio Ponoc has in store from here on out as it looks to live up to the legacy of Studio Ghibli and if this film is any indication, their future will be bright.
“Mary and the Witch’s Flower” will be available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on May 1st.