Studio Ghibli veterans producer Yoshiaki Nishimura and director/animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi bring the classic Ghibli style and sensibilities to Mary and the Witch’s Flower, the debut future for Ghibli offshoot Studio Ponoc. Founded by the Ghibli vets after Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata announced their retirement and Ghibli moved away from animation, Nishimura and Yonebayashi are carrying the torch and their first film is an utterly enchanting animated adventure that serves up everything fans love about Studio Ghibli films.
When Marnie Was There and The Secret World of Arrietty director Yonebayashi adapts from Mary Stewart‘s 1971 children’s lit classic ‘The Little Broomstick’, concocting a magical adventure about a young girl named Mary with a knack for getting into trouble, who discovers a rare, highly coveted flower that gives her magical powers. After stumbling onto the world of magic, Mary finds herself wrapped up in the mysteries of a witch’s college, where terrible deeds lurk beneath the idyllic surface.
The film arrived over the summer in Japan to positive reviews (you can read my full glowing review here), and is currently in contention for the animated prize at the 2018 Oscars The English-language version features the voices of Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent and Ruby Barnhill arrives in US theaters on January 18. Watch the first US trailer below.
Here’s the official synopsis for Mary and the Witch’s Flower:
From Academy Award®-nominated Hiromasa Yonebayashi – animator on Studio Ghibli masterpieces Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo, and director of When Marnie Was There and The Secret World of Arrietty – comes a dazzling new adventure about a young girl named Mary, who discovers a flower that grants magical powers, but only for one night.
Mary is an ordinary young girl stuck in the country with her Great-Aunt Charlotte and seemingly no adventures or friends in sight. She follows a mysterious cat into the nearby forest, where she discovers an old broomstick and the strange Fly-by-Night flower, a rare plant that blossoms only once every seven years and only in that forest. Together the flower and the broomstick whisk Mary above the clouds, and far away to Endor College – a school of magic run by headmistress Madam Mumblechook and the brilliant Doctor Dee. But there are terrible things happening at the school, and when Mary tells a lie, she must risk her life to try to set things right.
Based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 classic children’s book The Little Broomstick, Mary and The Witch’s Flower is an action-packed film full of jaw-dropping imaginative worlds, ingenious characters, and the and the stirring, heartfelt story of a young girl trying to find a place in the world. Featuring the voices of Ruby Barnhill and Academy Award®-winners Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent.