The film began life following the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki and the shutting down of the production side of Studio Ghibli in 2014. Hiromasa Yonebayashi, director of The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There, and producer Yoshiaki Nishimura, who worked alongside Isao Takahata in The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, had left Ghibli to found Studio Ponoc on April 15, 2015 to produce this film. Additionally, 80% of the staff that were involved in this film had previously worked at Ghibli.
It is based on 1971 British children's story The Little Broomstick by Mary Stuart (1916 - 2014). It was originally released in Japan on 1975 as Small Magic Broom (Translation by Kyoko Kakegawa / illustration by Akahoshi Akira Mamoru) and republished on 2017 due to the release of this film adaptation. It was called Mary and the Witch's Flower, New Translation (Translation by Toshiya Echizen, Yuki Nakata ) and was published by Kadokawa.
The film was publicly announced with its poster visual on December 14, 2016, and its lead voice actor Hana Sugisaki was announced on February 23, 2017. Yuki Amami and six other cast members were announced on May 23. Actors Sugisaki, Amami and Kamiki have had prior experience performing in previous Studio Ghibli works.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Characters
- 3 Behind the Scenes
- 4 Reception
- 5 Music
- 6 Voice Cast
- 7 Credits
- 8 Tie-up collaboration
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Mary Smith moves into the northern English country estate of her Great Aunt Charlotte. The bored, friendless girl tries to make herself useful through chores, but repeatedly messes up. A local boy named Peter teases her for her clumsiness and wild red hair. Tib-cat and Gib-cat, Peter's cats, lead Mary to some mysterious glowing flowers. The gardener identifies the flowers as "fly-by-night"; legend has it that witches covet the flower for its magical power. The next day, Gib-cat disappears. Tib-cat leads Mary to a broomstick but she accidentally bursts a fly-by-night bulb on it. The bulb releases magical power, making the broomstick come to life and enabling Mary to ride it like a witch. The Little Broomstick whisks Mary away to a complex of buildings in the clouds, known as Endor College for witches.
Head mistress Madam Mumblechook assumes Mary is a new pupil with Tib-cat as her familiar, and takes her on a tour of the college. She introduces Mary to Doctor Dee, the college's renowned chemistry teacher. Mary finds herself able to perform advanced spells such as invisibility. Madam and Doctor Dee become convinced that Mary is a prodigy because of her performance as well as her red hair, which is a distinguishing feature among the best witches.
Mary admits that her magical ability comes from fly-by-night, and that Tib-cat belongs to Peter. Madam's attitude changes then but she lets Mary return home once Mary turns over Peter's address. That night, Madam sends a message to Mary, informing that she's kidnapped Peter, and demands that Mary bring the fly-by-night bulbs to her. She and Tib-cat quickly fly back to Endor with the bulbs, but Madam and Doctor Dee imprison her in their transformation lab. Mary finds Peter locked in with her, and discovers that Doctor Dee has been experimenting on animals, including Gib-cat, transforming them into fantastic creatures. From the spell book she took from Madam's office, Mary uses a spell to undo the transformations and unlock the lab. They try to escape on the Little Broomstick, but Peter is recaptured.
The Little Broomstick takes Mary to an isolated cottage on a tiny island that seems to be alive. Inside the cottage, Mary finds notes on spells and a mirror that Great-Aunt Charlotte uses to contact her. Through visions, Charlotte reveals that the cottage was her old home, and she used to be a red-haired pupil who excelled at Endor. One day Charlotte found fly-by-night on the campus, leading Madam and Doctor Dee to obsessively pursue a project to use the flower to transform all humans into witches. When their experiments failed, Charlotte escaped Endor, taking the flower with her. Charlotte begs Mary to use her last bulbs to return home, but Mary vows to rescue Peter.
Rainbow of Magic
Mary returns to Endor and finds Madam and Doctor Dee trying to transform Peter into a witch. The experiment fails again, leaving Peter trapped within a gelatinous monster. Mary gets the spell book to Peter, and he uses it to undo the failed experiment and all of Madam and Doctor Dee's research.
Mary and Peter fly home, with her throwing away her last bulb and saying she does not need magic.
- Mary Smith (メアリ・スミス , Meari Sumisu)
- The redheaded, blue eyed, freckled 11-year old protagonist of this tale. She is curious and innocent in the ways of the world. She's forlorn and unsure of herself when she first moves to her Aunt Charlotte's Red Manor.
- Mary's adventure begins when she discovers a mysterious glowing flower called the "fly-by-night". The magic released from these flowers empowers Mary's broom, which allows her to take flight where she ends up traveling to Endor University. Shenanigans ensues.
- Peter (ピータ , Pītā)
- A 12-year old newspaper boy who resides at the grounds of the Red Manor. He flees with Mary to the Endor University. He holds a dark secret.
- Tib (ティブ , Tibu)
- One of Peter's cats who lives in Red Manor. He has black fur and emerald green eyes. He enjoys Mary's company.
- Gib (ギブ , Gibu)
- A grey female cat owned by Peter.
Residents of Red Manor
- Charlotte (シャーロット , Shārotto)
- The kindly mistress of the Red Manor and Mary's great aunt. She watches over Mary.
- Flanagan (フラナガン , Furanagan)
- Manager of the broomhouse at Endor University. He appears to be an anthropomorphic mouse. He has a strong fascination with brooms and later saves Mary and Peter's life.
- Miss Banks (バンクス , Bankusu)
- The housekeeper who works at the Red Manor. A person Mary relies on for emotional support.
- Zebedee (ゼベディ , Zebedi)
- The gardener in the Red Manor. He teaches Mary the secret of flight with a broomstick.
- Doctor Dee (ドクター・デイ , Dokutā Dei)
- A professor and "magic scientist" at Endor University. He studies magic transformations and cavorts with Madam Mumblechook.
- Madam Mumblechook (マダム・マンブルチューク , Madamu Manburuchūku)
- The headmistress or principal of Endor University. A stern and intimidating woman who seeks Mary for her transformation magic experiments.
Behind the Scenes
At the end of 2014, the animation production department of Studio Ghibli was dissolved following Hayao Miyazaki announcing his retirement in September 2013. In March 2015, Hiromasa Yonebayashi publicly expressed his desire to direct a third film for Ghibli, hoping to move away from a project like When Marnie Was There to a more action-based film like Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.
In April 15, 2015, Yoshiaki Nishimura, producer on The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There, still an employee of Ghibli and the designated successor of Toshio Suzuki, established a new company, Studio Ponoc. "Ponoc" is Serbo-Croatian word, roughly translating to “midnight” to signify “the beginning of a new day.”
In February 2016, Nishimura and Yonebayashi, returning from the 88th Academy Awards for When Marnie Was There, find out that Studio Ghibli's production offices was completely empty and would not be returning. Shortly thereafter, as what many had suspected: Yonebayashi would direct a third feature film, but within Studio Ponoc.
"Starting from nothing was quite scary, but in starting from zero there is hope as well,” Nishimura says. This sense of a new beginning was used to rally talent from Ghibli and elsewhere, and Nishimura recognized that without the cooperation of others, his goal of a new studio would have been impossible; without the Ghibli brand to rely on, the upstart studio would need to grow from its own collection of talent.
"Well, there are three reasons: first, after we left Studio Ghibli and founded Studio Ponoc, we wanted to have an energetic main character and a fantasy setting. The last film Yonebayashi-san directed at Studio Ghibli – When Marnie Was There – was a very quiet film about the internal thoughts and emotions of a girl. But Director Yonebayashi's speciality is actually dynamic action, which he learned as an animator under director Hayao Miyazaki, something he developed into a real talent. I thought “which motif will allow the kind of fantasy setting we're looking for?” I read a lot of young adult literature and fantasy looking for stories, and almost all of these stories involving magic feature characters using magic to solve difficult problems, but in this book – in “The Little Broomstick” – the main character, Mary, says “I'm going to open this door but I won't use magic – no matter how much time it'll take, I'll do it on my own, without magic” and I thought “this should be the heroine we use for our film”."
"The second reason is, this theme of not using magic to solve a problem - it fit into the situation that I and Yonebayashi-san and others at Studio Ghibli faced: we were now no longer under the “magic umbrella” of Studio Ghibli and needed to complete a film on our own. So the feeling that we needed to stand on our own two feet was part of it."
"Lastly, there is one other motif in The Little Broomstick – the magic flower, the fly-by-night. This is the flower that gives magic ability to normal humans. We treated this as Prometheus’ Fire – something that humans shouldn't really have, something that wreaks destruction if they get too close to it. That relates to the challenges we face in this present day, in our own lives."
Mary and the Witch's Flower is an adaptation of British writer Mary Stewart's 1971 children's book The Little Broomstick. It was first published in 1975 in Japan and re-released with a new translation by Kadokawa in 2017 to accompany the film's release. The film's screenplay is by Riko Sakaguchi (The Tale of Princess Kaguya) and director Hiromasa Yonebayashi.
Pre-production began in a building in Musashino, Tokyo, Japan in December 2015. Ponoc's operation began smoothly, starting with advertising support from JR Nishi Nihon, regional subsidiary of the JR rail group. The studio also hired Yoshiyuki Momose, one of the pillars of Studio Ghibli. Around this time, Yonebayashi broke the news to Miyazaki that he was moving forward with the film's production. “He was happy,” Yonebayashi explained. “Miyazaki isn't someone who shows their feelings easily, so it was surprising."
"I would like to create films inherited from the spirit of Ghibli" elaborated Nishimura. “There are a lot of studios that make good films, but few that are responsible and reflect on the image and values they convey through their productions. It is for this reason that we felt compelled to create our own studio."
They would try to apply the three points that Miyazaki taught them:
- A movie must be fun.
- It must be interesting.
- It must make a profit in order to be able to make another one.
"This time we wanted to make a film with a protagonist who acts before thinking... This applies to starting a new studio as well; it was important we take action without thinking too much.”
- —Hiromasa Yonebayashi
The film's production was composed of 80% of Ghibli's production staff. Much of the film's style and storytelling was greatly affected by Ghibli. According to Director Yonebayashi, "We employed lots of hand drawn animators for Mary and we are confident that we fully employed their strength and power for the hand drawn animation. With the short films we are trying to employ lots of hand drawn animation and lots of CG animation as well, and it is our challenge to mix these two medias. Hand drawn animation and computer graphics."
The biggest challenges the animators faced was animating the fantastical characters and creatures convincingly. "One is when Mary enters Endor College and the headmistress appears in the water – that was very tough to animate. The other one was when the animals are freed, transformed back into their original animal shapes and freed, escaping the cave where they were imprisoned. There were so many different animals, each with slightly different movement, so that was a real challenge. Each of these is only a few moments of screen time, but they took about two months to finish. There were many scenes like that, that were difficult to animate. But what I put a lot of effort into were the scenes where Mary loses her magic power and has to rely on just her human ingenuity and strength, and with renewed determination runs to the rescue just on her own ability." Yonebayashi explains further.
When creating the character of Mary, Yonebayashi considered themes of transformation from within, "Initially Mary has an inferiority complex about her ginger red hair and she was so unhappy that she would curse herself in the mirror – but eventually through her adventure they don’t matter to her. Initially she was thinking only of herself but eventually she discovered that she was able to sacrifice herself to save other people. That was the theme when I was designing these aspects."
"Also there is a symbol on Mary's palm that indicates when she is granted power, enormous power. But when she really needed the power the most she was unable to use it, she would just see a little scar on her palm. Nevertheless, she would turn her palm into a fist and proceed to go forward. We wanted to portray her determination. That even when she loses the magical power she is determined to go ahead. We thought that this was important and would resonated with a lot of audiences."
In December 2016, Studio Ponoc unveiled the first teaser of Mary and the Witch's Flower. The release date was set for July 8, 2017.
In January 2017, Hayao Miyazaki visited Ponoc's offices to see his former collaborators, who have dubbed the studio as the "next generation of Ghibli". "On Arrietty, Mr. Miyazaki often told me that I did not understand anything while looking at my genga" Yonebayashi humorously explained. “But this time, he just came to chat."
Additionally, the ending credits contained a "Thank you" message addressed to Hayao Miyazaki. For this reason, the film is sometimes described as "the second Studio Ghibli" or the successor to Studio Ghibli.
Voice recording began in May 2017. Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who enjoys working with talent he previously collaborated with at Studio Ghibli, hired Hana Sugisaki (she voiced Sayaka in When Marnie Was There) and Yûki Amami (Granmamare in Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). They also hired popular voice talent Ryûnosuke Kamiki as Peter, who not only appeared in the mega-blockbuster Your Name, but also voiced Sho in The Secret World of Arrietty, Markl in Howl's Moving Castle and Boh in Spirited Away.
Mary and The Witch's Flower grossed $2.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $38.6 million in other territories (including $27.6 million in Japan, $3.8 million in South Korea, $2.9 million in China and $2.6 million in France), for a worldwide total of $41 million.
In Japan, the film opened at second place, grossing ¥428 million ($3.9 million) during its opening weekend; this was an increase compared to Yonebayashi's previous film, When Marnie Was There (2014), which had grossed ¥378.86 million in its first weekend.
In the United States, the film held a special Thursday night preview on January 18, 2018 where it grossed $1.2 million from 573 theaters. It then stayed at 161 theaters over the weekend and grossed $329,097, bringing its four-day gross to $1.5 million. Critical response
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on 69 reviews, and an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Mary and The Witch's Flower honors its creator's Studio Ghibli roots with a gentle, beautifully animated story whose simplicity is rounded out by its entrancing visuals." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Shelia O'Malley of RogerEbert.com gave the film a rating of three stars out of four and stated that "the total lack of inner conflict in Mary might be why Mary and The Witch's Flower-as transportive and entertaining as it is-feels a little slight". However, Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times noted that although the film "isn't quite a masterpiece" and "the screenplay needs a polish", she concluded that the film is "a joy to look at: a visual adventure, and a continuation of a remarkable legacy".
Composer Muramatsu Takatsugu, who also scored Yonebayashi's last film When Marnie Was There, is in charge of the soundtrack for Mary and The Witch's Flower. Joshua Messick, one of the world's leading performers of the Hammered Dulcimer, participated in the score recording.
|Character||Japanese Voice actor||English Voice actor|
|Mary||Hana Sugisaki||Ruby Barnhill|
|Madam Mumblechook||Yuki Amami||Kate Winslet|
|Doctor Dee||Fumiyo Kohinata||Jim Broadbent|
|Flanagan||Jiro Sato||Ewen Bremner|
|Great-Aunt Charlotte||Shinobu Otake||Lynda Baron|
|Peter||Ryunosuke Kamiki||Louis Ashbourne Serkis|
|Miss Banks||Eriko Watanabe||Morwenna Banks|
|Red-haired Witch (Younger Great-Aunt Charlotte)||Hikari Mitsushima||Teresa Gallagher|
|Zebedee||Kenichi Endō||Rasmus Hardiker|
|Light Fairy||Saori Hayami||Rebecca Louise Kidd|
|Director, Screenplay||Hiromasa Yonebayashi|
|Animation Director||Takeshi Inamura|
|Assistant Drawing Director||Akira Inoue, Akihiko Yamashita|
|Art Director||Tomotaka Kubo|
|CG Director||Yū Karube|
|Key Animation||Akira Honma, Akiyo Okuda, Asako Matsumura, Atsuko Otani, Atsuko Tanaka, Atsushi Tamura, Eiji Yamamori, Emi Ohta, Fumie Imai, Hideki Hamasu, Hirofumi Masuda, Hiroko Minowa,Hiroomi Yamakawa, Hiroshi Kawaguchi, Hiroshi Shimizu, Izumi Seguchi, Kazutaka Ozaki, Kazuyoshi Onoda, Kiyotaka Oshiyama, Mariko Matsuo, Masafumi Yokota, Masashi Ando, Minoru Ohashi, Naoya Wada, Ryosuke Tsuchiya, Sachiko Sugino, Satoko Morikawa, Shigeru Fujita, Shinichiro Yamada, Shinji Hashimoto, Shinji Otsuka, Shinya Ohira, Shūjirō Ami, Susumu Mitsunaka, Takaaki Yamashita, Takashi Hashimoto, Takayuki Hamada, Tatsuzou Nishida, Toshihiko Masuda, Toshio Kawaguchi, Yoshiyuki Momose, Yūichi Takahashi, Yūko Tani|
|Line Test||Atsuko Okui, Atsuko Shibata, Chūzan Kuno, Hironobu Horikoshi, Junji Yabuta, Kanae Ouchi, Minori Tsukagoshi, Shūji Takahashi, Taku Kaneku, Toshiyuki Fukushima, Yoshiaki Kayaba, Youichirou Satou, Yūsaku Ishimi,|
|CG||Ayano Kameda, Hisashi Akimoto, Jae-Youp Sang, Tomoe Hitō, Yoshifumi Takegawa|
|In-between Animation||Ai Kaneko, Aiping Wang, Akane Ōtani, Akiko Ikeda, Akiko Teshima, Asami Ishikado, Asami Ishiura, Asuka Sekiya, Aya Takahashi, Ayaka Miyamoto, Ayaka Muroga, Ayaka Saitou, Ayaka Yamamoto, Ayaki Ono, Ayano Yagi, Bo Rum Lee, Byeong Jae Lee, Chihiro Watanabe, Chizu Takanuki, Emi Nakano, Emi Sakamoto, Fumie Kaneko, Fuyuko Iwata, Hae Jin Jung, Hai Xia Rong, Haruka Itou, Harumi Miyamoto, Hee Eok Kwak, Hiroko Kando, Hiroko Tezuka, Hiromi Matsuda, Hiromi Niwa, Hisako Yaji, Hotaka Hashimoto, Ikuko Akiyoshi, Jae Eun Bae, Ji Young Cho, Jin Rui Li, Jinko Tsuji, Joo Ey Choi, Junji Kobayashi, Kaede Maruyama, Kana Yamamoto, Kanae Tanaka, Kanako Satō, Kanako Takeuchi, Kanata Yanagisawa, Kaori Itou, Kaori Matsushima, Kaori Miyakawa, Katsu Miyazaki, Katsuyuki Takahashi, Keiko Tomizawa, Keiko Watanabe, Keimon Oda, Keizō Suzuki, Ken Anzai, Ken Imaizumi, Kengo Sunohara, Kim Boksim, Kiyoko Kawasaki, Kiyoko Makita, Koji Matsuda, Kumi Miyaguchi, Kumiko Ohta, Kumiko Tanihira, Kyung Mi Ham, Maiko Fujiwara, Maiko Matsumura, Maiko Nogami, Maki Toyoda, Manami Sugimoto, Masakiyo Koyama, Masateru Yoshimura, Masaya Saito, Masayasu Horiuchi, Masayo Tamaki, Maya Fujimori, Mayumi Ohmura, Mei Yamamoto, Mi Kyung An, Michiko Oda, Minami Nakamura, Mineko Suzuki, Misa Koyasu, Misaki Shiohira, Misuzu Ichinose, Mitsuki Murao, Mitsumori Matsuzaka, Mitsuna Ishihara, Mitsunori Murata, Miyuki Abe, Mizuki Kokubun, Momo Yamamoto, Nana Hashiguchi, Nanako Egami, Natsumi Morishita, Natsumi Uno, Natsumi Yamaguchi, Nobuhide Kariya, Noriko Endō, Nosuzu Yasumoto, Nozomu Ichijo, Reiko Mano, Rie Eyama, Rie Nakagome, Rieko Matsuoka, Riko Matsuo, Ritsuko Shiina, Ryoka Furuya, Ryōsuke Murahashi, Ryun Sung Jo, Sae Fukushima, Saki Yamada, Sara Sakoe, Seiko Higashi, Seong Beom Kim, Seong Jin Ho, Seong Yeon Lee, Setsuya Tanabe, Shiki Amaha, Shin Ōba, Shiori Ariga, Shiori Fujisawa, Shota Sugihara, Shūto Enomoto, , Sumie Nishido, Sumie Noro, Sun Ha Hwang, Sung Il Kim, Takahiro Nawa, Takashi Nagashima, Takashi Okamura, Takeshi Ohkoshi, Takumi Morito, Takuya Suezawa, Tatsuki Ujihira, Tomoko Nakajima, Tomoko Sugata, Tomoyuki Kojima, Wei Sun, Yaeko Kodama, Yasuaki Honda, Yasushi Tokuda, Yayoi Toki, Ying Ping Zhao, Yohei Nakano, Yoriko Mochizuki, Yoshie Fujiwara, Yoshie Hayashi, Yoshiko Arahata, Youko Tanaka, Young Lim Lee, Yū Furuki, Yu Fen Cheng, Yue Zhao, Yui Okano, Yui Ōzaki, Yuka Chōmei, Yuka Katsuya, Yukari Umebayashi, Yukari Yamaura, Yuki Masutani, Yuki Nakano, Yuki Takahashi, Yukiko Kunitake, Yukimi Shimamoto, Yukina Orii, Yumiko Taguchi, Yuri Nakao, Yuzu Hori, Zhi Ping Gao|
|Background Art||Akane Iwakuma, Akemi Higashi, Akio Shimada, Akira Kuramoto, Ayae Kanbe, Hiroshi Ohno, Hiroshi Satō, Ikuko Kogayu, Jun Okabe, Kazuo Oga, Kikuyo Yano, Kiyomi Oota, Kōsuke Hayashi, Kurumi Katayama, Kurumi Suzuki, Miho Tokita, Naomi Kasugai, Naoto Imamura, Noboru Yoshida, Noriko Kohinata, Saki Yamaguchi, Sō Senoo, Takashi Omori, Tatsuya Kushida, Toshie Honda, Yohei Takamatsu, Yoko Kamiyama, Yoshiaki Honma, Youichi Nishikawa, Youji Takeshige, Yu Xuan Liu, Yuka Nitta, Yumi Ishii,|
|Animation Cooperation||Actus, GONZO, Comics Wave Film, Video Studio, JCSTAFF, Aiken, Shinei Video, Studio Takurake, Nakamura Productions, Color, etc.|
|Special Thanks||Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Toshio Suzuki|
|Production Committee||"Mary and the Witch's Flower" Production Committee (Nippon Television Network, Toho, Dentsu, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Walt Disney Japan, Lawson, KADOKAWA, Color, Yomiuri Television Broadcasting, Kenon, Amuse, DN Dream (Partners, LINE, Yomiuri Shimbun, Sapporo TV, Miyagi TV, Shizuoka Daiichi TV, Chukyo TV, Hiroshima TV, Fukuoka)|
|Special Sponsors||Morinaga Milk Industry, JA Mutual Aid|
- Morinaga Milk Industry - A special TV commercial was broadcast nationwide, and a tie-in packaged product was released in late June 2017. Morinaga Milk Industry sponsored special preview screenings in three cities - Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.
- JA Mutual Aid - From June 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017, a personalized visual was drawn by director Hiromasa Yonebayashi to all applicants for the sponsor's special site's quiz. Original goods were given out by lottery to the correct answers, and from the end of June TV commercials.
- Human Observation Variety Monitoring - A TV special called Impossible Voice Actor Audition was broadcast on July 13, 2017. Actors Sugisaki and Kamiki as well as Yuki Kaji participated in the role of Flanagan hosted the event.
- "Exclusive Interview – Mary and The Witch’s Flower director Hiromasa Yonebayashi and producer Yoshiaki Nishimura", Flickering Myth.
- "Hiromasa Yonebayashi on Mary and the Witch’s Flower: “We want to make films that give people courage”, BFI.
- "Mary and the Witch's Flower: Film Creation", Buta Connection
- "Interview: The Producer and Director of Mary and The Witch's Flower", Anime News Networks.
- "Mary and the Witch's Flower" Official Soundtrack, YesAsia.
- Hammered Dulcimer on “Mary and the Witch's Flower"
- Mary and the Witch's Flower Official Homepage