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Watch the MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER Trailer from Ex-Studio Ghibli Employees

Watch the MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER Trailer from Ex-Studio Ghibli Employees

Weirdly, amazingly, and thankfully, there’s been a lot of news surrounding Japan’s beloved animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli in recent weeks, with Hayao Miyazaki‘s new short film getting a release date, a North American release for their rarely seen TV movie Ocean Waves, and the murmurs that Miyazaki might un-retire from feature film directing (after only two years). Now we get the news and more that a brand new studio, started by former Ghibli animators, has launched with a new movie coming this summer in Japan. And, via Slate, it looks like it’ll fill our anime void.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the first film from Studio Ponoc, the animation company founded by former Ghibli employees Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura. Yonebayashi worked as an animator and key animator on seven of Ghibli’s features and a couple of its shorts, as well as directing 2010’s The Secret World of Arrietty and 2014’s Best Animated Feature nominee When Marnie Was There. He’s long been someone I’ve thought could and should become a major name in the field, and now, with his first film under his own studio, he’s poised to do just that. Nishimura worked as producer on Marnie and the previous year’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which earned Ghibli founder Isao Takahata his first and to-date only Oscar nomination.

The new film is based on Mary Stewart’s fantasy novel The Little Broomstick, and The Telegraph‘s Robbie Collin, in his feature interviewing the Ponoc founders, explains that the film, though it looks like a traditional Ghibli film (in very specific and wonderful ways), it’s going to be very much about looking forward to the future rather than being nostalgic for the past, as most Ghibli films are.

Using Stewart’s original story as a guide, [Yonebayashi] teased out the story, adding an entirely new second act that plays to Mary’s strengths as a young girl whose courage and persistence, as opposed to magic powers, sees her overcome the danger at hand.
Nishimura describes it as a film for children who are “moving into a 21st century that’s different from the one their parents imagined for them.” He goes on: “I think we all had a vision of what the world would be like, but it’s not the one we’re moving into. So what filmmakers should say at a time when people are losing hope – and what kind of film might help restore it in our children – are big themes for right now.”

All of this really makes me excited for the future, since it seems as though Yonebayashi and Nishimura are using their time with Ghibli to move in a creatively different but aesthetically similar direction. It looks like a glorious mixture of Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Princess Mononoke to me. Collin’s report also explains that “Ponoc” is a Serbo-Croatian word for “midnight,” which was explained by Nishimura to mean the moment that an old day ends and a new day begins. This seems like a jump-off from Ghibli, which is also a European word, being Italian for a hot desert wind.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is set to open in Japan this summer, and hopefully will get a U.S. release sometime soon thereafter. I need to have this movie in my face, brain, and heart.

Let us know your thoughts on the thing I just talked about in the comments below!

Image: Studio Ponoc


Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. He’s the writer of Studio Ghibli retrospectives Miyazaki Masterclass and Takahata Textbook. Follow him on Twitter!

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