If you know the name Studio Ghibli, then you’re familiar with director Hayao Miyazaki and films like Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. Well, one of the animators, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, directed a new feature film called Mary and The Witch’s Flower. While this marks the debut project for Studio Ponoc, a budding Japanese animation house, the reveal of the work’s kinetic opening sequence previews a dynamic visual style that entranced fans of Studio Ghibli.
Yonebayashi previously directed The Secret World of Arrietty (2010) and When Marnie Was There (2014). With Mary and The Witch’s Flower, based on Mary Stewart’s children’s book The Little Broomstick, he weaves a new animated world around the character of Mary.
The young girl grows bored of living with her great aunt in the countryside, but when she follows a mysterious cat into the woods, she stumbles upon a broomstick and the Fly-by-night flower, an elusive plant that blossoms once every several years. Both objects whisk her away to a school for magic that exists above the clouds.
The opening chase scene involving a young witch speeding through the sky after stealing the flower, shows how those mystical objects came to cross Mary’s path.
Mary and The Witch’s Flower is to set to premiere with a special event in select theaters on Jan. 18 before going wide on Jan. 19. Watch the new footage above.