When the celebrated Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Spirited Away, among many others) halted production in 2014, Yoshiaki Nishimura founded Studio Ponoc along with several Studio Ghibli veterans. The name is said to derive from a word meaning “midnight,” signifying the end of one day and the beginning of another. Mary and the Witch’s Flower, directed and cowritten by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was There) is Studio Ponoc’s first feature film.
It tells the story of Mary, a young girl sent to stay with her Great Aunt Charlotte in the country while her parents are away for some unspecified reason. Bored out of her mind, she follows Tib the cat into the woods and discovers a rare flower that temporarily gives her magical abilities. She activates a long-forgotten broomstick and finds herself transported to Endor College, a school of magic, where she is mistaken for a new pupil. She soon discovers some unsavory experiments going on behind the scenes. Continue reading