Movie Review: Mary And The Witch's Flower (PG)
Fans of Studio Ghibli must have been upset when it shut its production department following the retirement of its acclaimed film-maker and co-founder Hayao Miyazaki in 2013.
But with Mary And The Witch's Flower, it is really heartening to know that there is a whole new world outside Ghibli.
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a Miyazaki disciple of more than 20 years, this animated fantasy is truly a charming, magical and outstanding first feature from Studio Ponoc, founded by former Ghibli employees including Yonebayashi.
Mary And The Witch's Flower pays homage to Ghibli films, such as Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), Spirited Away (2001) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004).
Based on Mary Stewart's book The Little Broomstick, it follows Mary and her magical adventures after stumbling upon a flower that grants her the power to become a witch.
The story is a rather straightforward tale of accepting oneself.
What deserves much applause is how endearing Mary is, the stunning visuals and lush backgrounds that are painstakingly hand-painted, a Ghibli trademark.