Mary and The Witch’s Flower review – giddy delight from Studio Ghibli’s successors

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The Japanese animation studio’s spirit lives on in this magical production from two of its veteran animators.

Studio Ghibli, the celebrated Japanese animation studio founded by Hayao Miyazaki, may have shuttered its production wing. But its spirit lives on in Studio Ponoc, founded by Ghibli veterans Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura. This first Ponoc production, an adaptation of The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, is a giddy delight which combines themes from Ghibli films Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle with a touch of Harry Potter.

Director Yonebayashi (ArriettyWhen Marnie Was There) evokes a lush, British, pastoral landscape into which accident-prone Mary crashes in the quest for adventure. She finds it in the form of a rare flower, which gives her temporary magical powers – enough to carry her to the doors of an august magic academy in the sky where young witches learn broo mstick management and other skills. But Endor College conceals a dark secret, a kind of enchanted vivisection laboratory where animals are magically tampered with. It may lack the originality of the best Miyazaki films, but with its heart-swelling score and exquisitely realised worlds, this is a must for Ghibli fans.

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