Mary and the Witch’s Flower is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and is based of the book, The Little Broomstick. This is Studio Ponoc‘s first film ever, the studio was founded by one of the founders of Studio Ghibli. The movie tells the story of Mary, a young girl who discovers special flowers which gave her magical abilities. It includes the voices of Ruby Barnhill, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent.
One aspect of this movie which kept impressing me over and over again was the animation, this movie is animated beautifully, the animation is smooth and eye-catching. It makes you wish CGI didn’t dominate the animation industry, not against CGI but sometime good ol’ 2D hand-drawn animation just looks better and with this movie, it’s a breath of fresh air. Also the musical score by Muramatsu Takatsugu was also really noticeable, it was unique and it fitted the tone of the movie.
The main character, Mary is portrayed as this girl who seeks adventure and although she’s clumsy and tends to fail it doesn’t stop her from trying. She’s basically a mix between Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Usagi from Sailor Moon. I enjoyed her character overall, it’s just that we’ve already seen this type of character portrayed before. One of my favorite things about her is her look. It’s an iconic look: the messy red hair with the bows, the broomstick and the black cat. When you’ll look at her you’ll immediately recognize her. When watching My Neighbor Totoro, one problem which I had is that I immediately forgot the characters’ appearances (except for Totoro and the cat bus).
The plot is pretty simple, the flowers give her magic, she goes to a magical college and she tries to fit in, can’t reveal more than that otherwise spoilers. It sounds pretty simple, right? When you see this movie unfold in it’s first half, you will surely be mesmerized. You will be taken aback at how immersive and how the feeling of awe and wonder are always present. The worldbuilding in this movie is worldbuilding at it’s finest. With every shot, there are a million things to look at yet it doesn’t feel crowded, it has a sense of organisation. The attention to detail is a big reason for why it feels so real and at the same-time dreamlike. It feels real because of how much detail and how the small things gather your attention, it’s realistic but it’s also dreamlike because of how it’s portrayed. Endor College is a place that everyone will want to visit once they finish the movie. Thanks to ALL of this, the story is elevated to a sophisticated fantasy but with a familiar story.
I really liked the ending. It was unusual for a movie like this to have the ending that it did. Sure, it had the happily ever after ending but it was different, it was simpler and because of that it was more satisfying to see these characters have that kind of send-off. One thing which I will say that did bother me was the pacing, it suffers when it goes too fast. Certain scenes will have you think that it’s the end but it’s not and afterwards the movie takes a long time to end making it seem like it’s been going on for ages.
This is definitely a family-friendly movie, one of the best there is in my opinion. I really like it and I surely wouldn’t mind seeing it again.