My List: Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017)

Mary and the Witches Flower.jpg

Rating: 8.5/10

I know I put a lot of newer movies on my list already and should start going for older movies, so I’m going to start playing a game where I review an older movie on my list every time until I get to the first movie ever, and then back again… maybe.

I’m sorry I haven’t been on lately. I’m working on what is the second-to-last draft of my book, Jack and David: Chapter 2. So, I’ll be a little spotty until that’s done. Anyway, I watched this movie today, partly because I like anime, but mostly because it was on Netflix. It’s a movie about a girl, Mary, who seems normal enough, until she discovers she’s a witch and is Harry Pottered off to magic school. It’s also based on a book called, “The Little Broomstick” by Mary Stewart.

This movie is a cool combination of awesome animation and sound design with a story so weird and cool it feels like Hayao Miyazaki wrote and directed it, or it was at least made by his company Studio Ghibli. And that makes sense as it’s produced by newly formed Studio Ponoc by former head of the former studio, Yoshiaki Nishimura. And directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, director of When Marnie was There and others. But this seems to combine elements of many Ghibli films, especially Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service, while doing something that’s unique unto itself.

It’s voice acting is also top quality. Something I’m a fan of in any animated film or TV show I watch, and you know that the voice acting has to be twice as good in an anime because the actors have to match the mouths of animated characters speaking in a different language. There’s a lot of talent to do that and still act the hell out of character with just your voice.

My only complaint, though it’s a decently-sized one, is that the first act of the film is a little confusing, and a bit slow. It starts with a cool battle in fantasy land that isn’t explained until really late in the movie. This might be a point where a flashback later in the film would have been better. Then it does a sudden cut to our real main character and it’s unclear if this is related at all for a very long time. It makes me think someone said, “we gotta start with an action scene!” but there wasn’t one to be had so they shoehorned this one into the backstory. It could have been better with a less dramatic cut but I think that, as it stands, this is a very jarring opening and might leave you jaded to what is actually the story is.

Why it’s on my list: If you took every anime I’ve ever seen and mixed it all up in a bucket, you’d probably get something like this movie but not nearly as good. And as an example of how creative modern anime can be I think this is a good example. Though too young to have much historical significance (yet), it’s also the first film of Studio Ponoc and I only hope their next film is just as good, or even better, than this one.

SCORING:

+7.5: a really enjoyable anime film with a good storyline

+1: great voice acting

+1: top quality animation

-1: Confusing beginning

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