Monkeys Fighting Robots

With the news years ago of director Hayao Miyazaki retiring (for the umpteenth time) and the details of low box office returns since Spirited Away, Studio Ghibli stalled in production. Many anime fans wondered if this meant the magic the studio once had was lost to the ages. But is there hope for a new challenger to take up the mantle? After you have enjoyed enough Manga and Anime you are able to read between the lines and can see a detail or two another may have missed. Through this and other detailed evidence you are able to piece together what can happen in the anime industry. This results in an abstract idea, a thought which doesn’t have a physical existence but can be speculated. Welcome to Anime Abstract.

Studio Ponoc was founded by Yoshiaki Nishimura, a veteran of Studio Ghibili and is composed of many members of the former studio including Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who directed the Studio’s first major release, Mary and the Witch’s Flower. Did the debut film showcases enough talent, creativity, and entertainment to put Studio Ponoc on a pedestal as the best anime studio around? The answer is: Kinda.

Mary and the witchs flower

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Let’s start with the good parts of Mary and the Witch’s Flower. The film showcases a lot of great animation, featured a stellar soundtrack, brought a forgotten children’s book to the big screen, and was an impressive first creation from a blossoming studio. Overall, the team behind the film really brought a lot of the skills which they learned from their time at Studio Ghibli.

This unfortunately is what leads to the negative side of the film which casts doubt on the Ponoc being the next best thing. The review featured on this site showcases a few of the imperfections in the film. Other than a lack of emotional depth, the overall production seemed to be too much like a Studio Ghibili film. In an almost formulaic fashion the film featured a spunky female protagonist, an emphasis on sequences of flight, and cute animal mascots. If the film had been without any problems these factors may be forgivable but the problems with the story and emotional depth make them more noticeable.

Mary and the witchs flower

The good aspects of the film are more than enough to outweigh the bad but everyone should still be hesitant before acclaiming Studio Ponoc as the next best thing since sliced bread. For now, Mary and the Witch’s Flower was good enough to be hopefully optimistic about future releases from Studio Ponoc. Hopefully the team will learn from their mistakes and the next films will be even more entertaining.

What do you think of Mary and the Witch’s Flower presented by Fathom Events and Studio Ponoc? Leave a comment below and let us know.