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HomeNewsRiffs: Spirited Away, Mary and the Witch's Flower

Riffs: Spirited Away, Mary and the Witch’s Flower


t’s no secret that Yonebayashi and Studio Ponoc see themselves as the next generation of Studio Ghibli. Many of their artists are alumni from the famed studio, and wish to continue the tradition of high quality, hand-drawn animation into the future. This will be a daunting challenge, as CG has completely overwhelmed everything in its path, but hopefully there will be enough people in the world who prefer the old ways. We will see.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower at times feels like a mashup of all your favorite Hayao Miyazaki movies, including Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away. Here, in this shot, we see a riff that points back to Miyazaki’s 2001 Oscar-winning classic, albeit with a slight change in camera angle. It is here that Yonebayashi makes a fascinating choice: he quotes the Ghibli movies, but not in the slavish blink-and-you’ll-miss-it style you see from other films. When Marnie Was There did the very same thing, quoting and riffing on Omohide Poro Poro and Spirited Away but used as a reference point, not simply a challenging bit of obscure trivia for the fans (or, most likely, the creators).

For me, the “Ghibli Riffs” are one of the most fascinating thing about these movies, if for no other reason than the fact that hardly anybody knows these things exist. If I have failed in any aspect with this website project, it’s not properly cataloging all these obscure Easter eggs. Oh, well, whatever, nevermind.



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