Mary and the Witch's Flower (2017)


Mary and the Witch's Flower (2017)

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Starring: Hana Sugisaki, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Yuki Amami

A girl who has moved to the countryside with her elderly aunt discovers a rare flower that grants her magical powers.

I was duly impressed with Hiromasa Yonebayashi's directorial debut in The Secret World of Arrietty, so when I learned he had a new movie coming out, it quickly went on my must-see list. This also marks the feature debut of Studio Ponoc and if this film is anything to go by, we can expect great things from them in the future. I only half-jokingly called Arrietty the best Miyazaki film Miyazaki never made and the Ghibli pedigree comes through here in terms of character design, general aesthetics and storytelling. You can feel elements of a number of previous Ghibli films at work here, particularly Howl's Moving Castle and Kiki's Delivery Service. Not having read the source novel (Mary Stewart's The Little Broomstick), I can't comment on how it stacks up as an adaptation, but it's an enjoyable, imaginative film with a good balance of drama, comedy and wonder. If you were worried about the fate of the Ghibli legacy, it definitely looks like the spirit is being carried on by Ponoc. I don't know when the film will get a release outside, but it's certainly worth checking out.

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