Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Mary & The Witch's Flower Review

On the 10th of April this year (I know it's taken me forever to write this post, oops!), I went to a fan screening of the new Japanese animation movie by Yoshiaki Nishimura, who was one of the producers at the iconic Studio Ghibli. If you've been a regular follower of mine, you'll know I absolutely adore the movies by Studio Ghibli, with their amazing attention to detail, heart-warming stories and wonderful, relatable characters! My personal favourite movies have to be Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle & Spirited Away. Of course, My Neighbour Totoro is up high on the list too, because it's so flippin' adorable! Totoro is basically me in fuzzy troll form :D (If you're a fan of Totoro, you might enjoy my Totoro cosplay post!). What are your favourite Ghibli movies guys?

If you are a fellow lover of this fabulous film-making company, you'll know that the legend himself Hayao Miyazaki announced that he was going into retirement and that he would not be making anymore movies back in 2014 after creating animation masterpieces for 30 years, so the future of the Studio Ghibli that we know and love was uncertain. However, Yoshiaki Nishimura is here for the modern generation and old generation of Ghibli fans alike, to bring us more movies with his new company, Studio Ponoc! Nishimura worked on many Ghibli movies including Howl's Moving Castle (2004), The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) and When Marine was There (2014). Those movies were fantastic, so I had high hopes for his first feature film, Mary & The Witch's Flower! (By the way, it has thankfully since been confirmed though that Miyazaki has come out of retirement to help with the creation of a new movie, yayyy!). 

I've never written a full review post that's dedicated to just one movie before, but I am gonna give it a go anyhow! So if you haven't seen the movie, and don't want to read any *spoilers*, why not check out some of my previous posts instead? I hope my review is a good one for those of you who are sticking around to read it :) Enjoy! 

Mary and The Witch's Flower: Movie Review


This movie was just so visually beautiful! It had all of the amazing quality of a Studio Ghibli movie. My absolute favourite thing about Ghibli movies has always been the nature! The way that they illustrate the natural world around us is so unique to them! There's always so much intricate detail in the scenery and natural elements in Studio Ghibli movies, they rival any Disney movie when it comes to their attention to detail! They don't forget to add all of the smallest details, including things like raindrops on leaves and rivers glistening in the sunlight. Every Ghibli movie just excites my inner nature geek! It allows me to really visualise being there alongside the characters, immersed in the adventure. It adds a level of realism that other animation movies just don't. They tend to rely solely on characters that their target audience can relate to, to really sell their stories. Studio Ghibli does both! Yoshiaki Nishimura has definitely brought with him all of these qualities from his time working with Studio Ghibli, and his team at Studio Ponoc have delivered a movie that is just as amazing when it comes to creating stunning, naturalistic scenery :) 

There's just something about Japanese animation, aka anime, that has always appealed to me! Even though movies like those by Disney and Pixar are now making characters that look more and more human-like (not that they didn't before but I hope you get what I'm trying to say! With the progression of digital animation, characters such as Moana & Rapunzel have a look/design much more like an actual person.), anime still does that better in my opinion and they have been doing that for years and years! Other than their characteristic large eyes, anime characters for me have always resembled actual people more and this made them more relatable to me. Gosh I feel like I'm not articulating my thoughts very well XD What I love about Studio Ghibli is that all of their characters are unique and memorable, which isn't always the case with some animes I've watched. Studio Ponoc have designed such wonderful characters for Mary and the Witch's Flower too! 

I always love the costume designs when it comes to Ghibli movies! Like Kiki's iconic, simple purple dress and big red bow! I think that no matter how simplistic or extravagant an outfit a character wears is, they are still eye-catching and perfect at mirroring the personality traits of the characters themselves. For instance, Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle (2004) wears a plain, practical green dress and this matches well with her focused and determined characteristics. Studio Ghibli are also great at colour-coordinating too! Studio Ponoc have really given us everything that Ghibli would have in terms of animation and character design. In their first ever feature movie, the protagonist, Mary, wears a red coat that matches so well with her ginger hair. Before I get carried away with talking about Mary's design, I'll stop here and save that for the next section of my post, haha!

Mary and The Witch's Flower: Movie Review


I was really happy to discover that Studio Ponoc has carried on the tradition of bringing us the wonderful, relatable characters that Studio Ghibli have always done! Something that I especially love about Studio Ghibli characters is how unique and personable they are. You can see so much of yourself in the way the characters behave and interact with their surroundings, fellow characters and situations they are faced with in the movies. These characters, especially the ones in the lead roles, usually have to overcome something that will test their courage or loyalty or determination, and this is Studio Ghibli's way of teaching their viewers both old and young something valuable, some kind of life lesson that they can take away after watching the movie. Studio Ghibli movies are full of emotion and often make you think about how you would react if you were faced with what the characters are. This is what makes the movies so good for child audiences, just like Disney movies were important for my personal development and empathy growing up. I wish that I had grown up with Studio Ghibli in my life when I was a small child. This Japanese film production company approach things in a much more raw way than American animation movies in my opinion, they seem to have less of a sugar-coating if you get what I mean. 

Another aspect that I especially admired about Studio Ghibli movies was their bringing-to-life of strong female characters. In so many of their movies, the lead role is a female character, and they often have wilful, determined and powerful personalities and have to face challenging tasks that require intelligence and bravery. It is refreshing to see women portrayed in such a way, and it makes me so happy that these movies are aimed mostly at children. It is important for kids of all genders to grow up with female role-models that are frankly badass! It was great for me when I was young to see strong protagonists like Disney's Mulan, that didn't let stereotypes or societal influences hold them back! What is so great about Studio Ghibli movies is that many of these iconic women are in fact children themselves, so it allows young audiences to believe that they are capable and have the courage to stand up for what they believe in, to be who they are and that they are able to face whatever is in their way. Studio Ponoc have followed in Ghibli footsteps, bringing us some more awesome girl power!!

Mary and The Witch's Flower: Movie Review

A 13 year old girl called Mary is the heroine of this movie. She is a very relatable character, who reacts to the scenarios she faces in such a realistic way. For instance, at the beginning of the movie, we see a very bored Mary, who is staying at her Great Auntie's house deep in the English countryside. She's fed up of having no one her age to play with and being stuck in the middle of nowhere. I can imagine that many children often have to visit their relatives in the summer holidays when they are off from school, and experience a very similar boredom being away from their friends and maybe surrounded only by adults, etc. After eventually deciding to venture outside and exploring the new world around her, she stumbles upon the witch's flower and her adventure begins! I always loved stories when I was younger where the characters would randomly find something magical, and be transported into a fantasy world of some kind. In the days when your imagination is whimsical and endless, it is easy to believe that these sorts of things can really happen, and along with Mary's typical teenage attitude, I imagine that children will be able to really associate with the lead character and be captivated by the storyline. 

I don't want to go into too much detail on the other characters in the movie, to leave at least some things for you all to discover for yourselves. However, I will mention that as most animation movies do, Mary & The Witch's Flower has a character that befriends the lead character and the typical bad guys. I will mention them more in the next section :) 


I'm not going to reveal too much here, because again I want to leave some parts of the movie to the imagination (although there will still be spoilers because it's impossible to discuss the storyline without telling you more about what happens!). I'm just going to briefly describe the storyline the best I can, and share my thoughts and feelings about it with you guys. 

So, in this movie as I mentioned earlier, we follow the teenage Mary as she explores her new surroundings in the English countryside. She is fed up with spending all day inside the grounds of her Great Auntie's house and so decides to venture further afield, into the woodland nearby. Not only does she discover the flower after which the movie is named, she also comes across a broomstick hidden amongst overgrown plants and trees. We already know how this broomstick came to be here because of the very beginning of the movie, but I'll let you find that out for yourselves. Anyhow, Mary is playing with the broomstick later on and it suddenly takes flight! It flies her to a magnificent school for witches and wizards! With the help of the 'witch's flower', Mary finds herself being able to do magical things beyond her wildest dreams and everyone at the school is immediately impressed with her, claiming her to the greatest witch they've all seen in a very long time! I'm absolutely lovin' the whole magic school angle, because it's very Harry Potter-esque and I'm definitely a Potterhead :)

All is not as it seems at this school, and some of the teachers, including the headmistress, are working on a.. what shall I call it?... 'project' (haha!), that involves the creation of some very strange creatures. Mary soon discovers what the teachers are trying to do and it involves the scenario that we saw unfold at the start of the movie, as well as the pretty but peculiar  witch's flower. Our lead character finds herself in a challenging situation when she learns more about what the teachers want the flower for and is fighting to protect it; then things get worse when a local boy who is a friend of the family, whom Mary has been teased by on numerous occasions, gets taught up in it all. The teachers need him to complete their project (I can't stop laughing that I've called it that :D) and so they kidnap him. Now, Mary has to rescue him as well as help save the day! It is a test of friendship and bravery with some magic thrown into the mix as Mary tries to put an end to the strange goings once and for all! 

Okay, so I think I explained it well without giving too much away... that was hard to do! :D

All in all, I really enjoyed the storyline. I always love stories involving sorcery and mystery, featuring legends or people discovering lost treasures or artefacts that lead them into a world of magic and fantasy! As I was writing that sentence, my brain automatically pictured Jumanji (1995), and I now have a mighty need to watch it! But yeah, Mary & The Witch's Flower has this and more, and I really like how the flower plays into the magic, it's like something out of a Hogwarts Herbology lesson (can you tell that I have Harry Potter on the brain guys?). I can't help comparing the story a little to the Studio Ghibli movie, Kiki's Delivery Service, however that's mostly because of the witchy theme. The adventure and action parts of the movie are much more comparable to Spirited Away, where the lead character Chihiro has to do everything she can to rescue her parents from a witch and her 'minions', Mary in this movie has to do the same to save her newly-found friends.

I cannot recommend this movie enough to those of you who are fellow fans of Japanese animation movies, and if you've never watched one before I still think you'd definitely enjoy it if you're a Disney fan or you like anime series anyway. I went to watch Mary and The Witch's Flower with one of my best friends and he'd never seen any Japanese animation movies other than the Pokemon ones, yet he loved it! It really is a fabulous movie, especially for a first production and now I am so looking forward to seeing what Studio Ponoc do next! Based against other Japanese movies I've seen, mostly using Studio Ghibli movies as a comparison, I would give Mary and The Witches Flower a 4 out of 5 stars, so I think that shows much I liked it! I hope you all enjoyed my review, I'm pretty sure I rambled a little haha :) Let me know in the comments if I've persuaded you to watch the movie, and I'd love to hear what you thought if you do. Have an awesome day guys, and make sure you stay hydrated in this heatwave (and even if you're not in the UK, drink that water people!). 

Thankyou for reading!

Have you seen this movie already? 
I'd very much like to hear your opinions!

What has been your favourite movie of 2018 so far?



  1. I've not had the chance to watch this one yet but I'm a big lover of the Ghibli movies there's just something so nostalgic, melancholy yet heart warming about them all. I'll definitely have to check this one out soon because I've seen every other movie and absolutely adored it but I think Spirited Away will always hold a special place in my heart xoxo

    1. It's great! Let me know what you think when you do watch it! Spirited Away is such a wonderful movie, it was the first Ghibli movie that I ever watched so it's special to me too :) x

  2. Would love to see this. I'm a big Ghibli fan - Film4 are starting showing their films as of 29 July. I'm going to record them all!! My fave is possibly My Neighbour Totoro. I just got the novel of it as well - its beautiful.


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