© Studio Ponoc

Mary und die Blume der Hexen (Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Meori to majo no hana)
Japan 2017

Opening 13 Sep 2018

Directed by: Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Giles New
Writing credits: Riko Sakaguchi
Principal actors: Hana Sugisaki, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Yuki Amani, Fumiyo Kohinata, Hikari Mitsushima

Young Mary Smith is bored. She is forced to stay with her great-aunt Charlotte and the housekeeper Miss Banks, until her parents return from some mission. Zebedee the gardener isn’t impressed with her attempts to help. Neither is Peter, the neighbor boy. This changes drastically when she follows Tib, a little black cat, into the woods and discovers some rare blue flowers called Fly-by-Night, which bloom every seven years. With these one can perform magic and fly around on a magic broom – all the way into the sky and across to Endor College, where evil Director Mumblechook and Doctor Dee have been seeking this flower for a long time. In the meantime they have modified familiar animals into various monsters, hardly resembling their former selves. Mary escapes danger several times; Peter becomes involved and must be rescued; some support is offered by Flanagan, a kind of chipmunk-like person. 

The action hops from one event to the next, as if the only goal is to keep going, which might suffice for entertainment and make a real plot perhaps unnecessary. The scary first two minutes remain a mystery until the end, when we learn that great-aunt Charlotte isn’t as innocent as she seems. Perhaps Mary inherited her curiosity about magic and fantasy from her. Although this is a Japanese animated film, the characters all look as if they had come from Scotland. Mary has bright red hair and blue eyes – no Japanese characters anywhere. My favorite character was the black cat Tip, whose brother is a grey cat named Gib and must also be rescued. Based on the popular book The Little Broomstick from 1971 by Mary Stewart.  (Becky Tan)

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