Thursday, January 18, 2018; I watched the premiere of what I thought was going to be a Studio Ghibli film, but it turned out to be a new movie making company that was inspired by Studio Ghibli: Studio Ponoc. Ponoc means midnight, which is the end of a day and the start of a new day; a perfect name for a new company that is starting over with a new generation for lovers of Studio Ghibli. When Studio Ghibli stopped making movies in 2014 (I believe), the people of the company wanted to continue the legacy, so Studio Ponoc was started. This movie (I believe) was the first motion picture of this company, which I hope touched the hearts of the young and old.
A Studio Ponoc movie
(The start of a new day)
(image from MyAnimeList)
To be honest, I kept forgetting the name of the movie when I entered the theatre and even the person who was scanning my ticket had to correct me. I even mistook what the plot of the movie was about, but that changed when the movie began to run. It starts with excitement demonstrating the beauty of the art of the scene like the explosion and the detail that went into the flying broom. I felt like this part was oddly like Howl’s Moving Castle’s action scenes, especially when I saw the creatures that were summoned by the antagonist. It was a good opener and made me forget my phone game that I was updating at the time.
When the main character Mary was introduced, I thought she was the little girl, Mae (might have misspelled this), from Totoro, but I have to remember that this is a completely new story and not a crossover. Her character in my opinion was well thought out. She had a complex about her red puffy hair. I can understand her frustration with puffy hair, since my hair is the same. Thank goodness for straighteners…oh nearly lost my train of thought. Anyway, she is a clumsy character, but has a pure heart and is eager to help anyway she can, but since she is clumsy, things don’t always go her way. I admit that I found that flaw annoying at first, but I bet some of us were like her when we were younger. Always making mistakes, but having our heart in the right place. As the movie continues, Mary is proven to be honest and determined when it comes to the people around her and in the end, makes a decision that will forever help her move forward and look pass her complex.
Other characters introduced in the movie, help Mary improve as a character like her aunt who encourages Mary, even just a little, to help others. I would go into more detail about her aunt, but I might accidentally blurt out a spoiler, so let’s continue with other characters like Mary’s friend, Peter. He’s the only other child that speaks with Mary, so it was obvious he would be a key to Mary’s growth in the movie. Their first meeting wasn’t exactly completely friendly, since Peter made the mistake of insulting Mary’s hair. Once again, I shouldn’t say too much, but I guess I should mention about the cats next. The cats are little sweet hearts and the black one is the one that has the most effect on Mary. When the black cat was riding the broom with Mary, it reminded me of Kiki’s Delivery Service.
The antagonists (won’t mention who they are) are not really all that bad. It was just a difference in view when it comes to their world of magic, which has a mix of science in it too. Actually, how they explained magic was pretty unique, since I never thought that potion making could be considered as science. Kind of explains the Mecha stuff I read about in fantasy light novels. It almost made me believe that magic was possible in reality (electricity).
As for the setting, it had an English feel and according to the interview at the end of the movie, the creators visited sites in England (I believe) to get the setting of the movie just right. They didn’t just really with what they saw in pictures, but on what they see in reality and from their imagination on how this place could be even better. Speaking of setting, in one part, when Mary flew into a cluster of clouds, it reminded me of Castle in the Sky and Spirited Away mixed together. It was truly exciting. There was also another part when she rode on a deer up a rock side and it really reminded me of Princess Mononoke. So much reminders were triggered watching this.
As for the Witch’s flower…I guess I shouldn’t spoil it, but know that this flower is what truly started Mary’s adventure and without it, she wouldn’t have been able to grow in character and discover what is important in her life.
When the movie ended, there was an interview with the director and another member of Studio Ponoc. I have to say that my memory of their names is pretty hazy, since I have hard time memorizing names, especially Foreign names (I hope this isn’t offensive). I am writing this from memory, but look online to know all the people involved in making this movie. Anyway, they gave a background of the movie and how it was made and even gave a reason why the company after Studio Ghibli came to be. It was a nice touch to an ending and yet a beginning.
In conclusion, I found the movie heart warming and somewhat nostalgic, but I wish there was a twist in the ending for Mary, since I felt the movie needed a little more, but it is good for the younger generation and I hope this movie is remembered as time goes on. I hope others will support Studio Ponoc when they can by watching Mary and the Witch’s Flower and many others in the future.