‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ is the first feature film from Studio Ponoc, but the visual style may seem familiar to fans of Studio Ghibli (Spirted Away, My Neighbor Totoro) since Studio Ponoc was founded by long time Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura and directed by former Studio Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi. While I don’t think ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ is as good Studio Ghibli’s classics, it is still a great debut for this new studio and well worth watching.
The story is based on the short children’s fantasy book ‘The Little Broomstick’ by Mary Stewart, and follows a lonely young girl named Mary (Ruby Barnhill) who is led to a magical flower by some local cats. This flower takes her on a fantastic journey.
Considering this is Studio Ponoc’s first solo outing it would have been nice for them to try something outside Studio Ghibli’s wheelhouse, everyday girl being brave and all that, but none the less it is a gorgeous movie. It is no wonder that Hiromasa Yonebayashi was chosen to be Studio Ghibli’s youngest director for the ‘Secret Life of Arrietty’ before moving over to Studio Ponoc. Plus the story is very sweet. My wife and daughter loved it, and I can’t say I disagree. Though their red hair probably gave them an even greater affinity for this film.
‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ was one of the rare anime movies to get a major push here in the States, and given its pedigree and quality it is easy to see why, but if you were like me and missed it when it came out, now is the time to give it a watch since as of mid-July it has been added to Netflix. It is more than worth your time, and I would love to see more of Mary and her fantastic world. If you have any frizzy red heads in your life, then this is a must watch. I am thinking a Blu-Ray copy of this film may end up in my daughter’s collection at some point.