I have seen a lot of discussion on the topic of Studio Ponoc becoming the “new Ghibli”. I do not think they can fill such shoes, but rather would like to view them as a competitor. They share the same style, and a lot of the staff (at least for this movie), so that much is warranted. Anyways, Mary and the Witch’s Flower is actually a great debut work for the studio.
Great animation. Studio Ponoc did a really good job in the animation department for their debut work here. The movie looks and feels so much like a Ghibli movie that it is almost criminal. Considering where the director comes from, it should not really come as much of a surprise. The colors are vibrant, the world feels alive, and there were several scenes where I was just in awe at the animation (especially the water scenes).
Beautiful soundtrack. Takatsugu Muramatsu does it again. I absolutely loved his work on When Marnie Was There, so I had a lot to look forward to when I heard he would be composing the soundtrack for Mary and the Witch’s Flower. He certainly did not disappoint! It reminded me a lot of the Arrietty soundtrack, more so than the soundtrack for Marnie. Even so, the soundtrack was excellent throughout, bringing to life this fantasy world portrayed through the already magical animation. My favorite track ended up being “Magic Science”.
Generic story. This movie is adapted from a children’s book, so I did not have the highest of expectations going into it. Cannot say I was surprised with how the story turned out, it was just your generic children’s fantasy tale. It is not necessarily a bad thing either, as this movie’s selling points are elsewhere, but do not go into this movie expecting the story to blow you away.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a respectable debut work for Studio Ponoc. It definitely establishes them as a studio to rival Ghibli in the future, at least when it comes to style. I recommend it for that aspect alone. Hopefully we can get more works like this from them in the future!