Adventure Animation

‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ Blu-ray Review: A Charming, Handsomely Drawn and Beautifully Acted Story to Delight Young and Old

May 8, 2018Ben MK

Hayao Miyazaki may have set aside his pen, and there may be no more chapters to write in the story of Studio Ghibli, but if Mary and the Witch's Flower is any indication, the spirit of Miyazaki's films is alive and well.

An adaptation of the classic British children's story The Little Broomstick, this whimsical tale from writer/director Hiromasa Yonebayashi and co-writer Riki Sakaguchi follows Mary Smith (voiced by Hana Sugisaki in the Japanese-language version and The BFG's Ruby Barnhill in the English cut), a red-haired girl who's moved into the countryside home of her great-aunt Charlotte ahead of the new school year. But while Mary has resigned herself to what she believes will be a lackadaisical last week of summer, it would seem that fate has other plans for her.

Whisked away high above the clouds to the prestigious Endor College of Magic, after stumbling upon the rare Fly-by-Night flower (also known as the Witch's Flower), Mary is mistaken for the school's newest and most talented pupil by its headmistress, Madam Mumblechook (Yûki Amami/Kate Winslet), and the school's resident mad scientist, Doctor Dee (Fumiyo Kohinata/Jim Broadbent). But when the pair learn of Mary's botanical discovery, things take a turn, and it's up to Mary to save the day by rescuing a local boy named Peter (Ryûnosuke Kamiki/Louis Ashbourne Serkis) from Mumblechook and Doctor Dee's misguided scheme.

With shades of Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky, Mary and the Witch's Flower is a worthy successor to carry on the Studio Ghibli legacy. Of course, audiences unfamiliar with Ghibli will no doubt compare it with the adventures of a bespectacled lad in another wizarding world. Either way, this charming, handsomely drawn and beautifully acted story is one that viewers young and old will delight in.

Mary and the Witch's Flower arrives on Blu-ray sporting a clean and problem-free 1080p encode. The hand-drawn line art is crisp, and colors such as the purple hues of Madam Mumblechook's dress or Mary's red hair are nothing short of eye-catching. What's more, the top-notch image quality is bolstered by a dual set of English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mixes, both of which do a superb job bringing to life the film's sound design, from the meowing of a pair of cats named Tib and Gib, to a stampede of forest creatures.

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray release includes a DVD copy of the film, an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, and the following Blu-ray extras (all of which are in Japanese, with English subtitles):

  • NTV Special: Creating Mary and the Witch's Flower - 500 Days Up Close (38:50) - Actress Hana Sugisaki hosts this behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, originally titled "The Path to Mary and the Witch's Flower: After the Ghibli Magic Disappeared."
  • A Special Conversation: Sekai No Owari, Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura (31:34) - Recorded in July 2017, the members of the band Sekai No Owari and Mary and the Witch's Flower's director and producer talk about the creation of the film's theme song.
  • Film Completion Press Conference (14:18) - The cast and director of Mary and the Witch's Flower appear at Roppongi Hills Arena on June 22, 2017, to announce the completion of the film.
  • Theatrical Promotional Movie (10:46) - Stars Hana Sugisaki and Ryûnosuke Kamiki present some special footage promoting the film.
  • Interview with the Filmmakers (13:49) - Producer Yoshiaki Nishimura and Writer/Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi talk establishing Studio Ponoc, character design, crafting the locations, magic and science, and messages from the film.
  • Trailers (10:43) - Nine trailers ("U.S. Trailer," "Trailer #1," "Trailer #2," "Trailer #3," "Trailer #4," "Teaser #1," "Teaser #2," "Teaser #3" and "Aeon Cinemas Screening Notice").
  • TV Spots (4:44) - Twelve TV spots ("TV Teaser," "TV Spot #1," "TV Spot #2," "TV Spot #3," "TV Spot #4," "TV Spot #5," "Tie-Up TV Spot #1," "Tie-Up TV Spot #2," "Tie-Up TV Spot #3," "Tie-Up TV Spot #4," "Tie-Up TV Spot #5" and "Tie-Up TV Spot #6").

Mary and the Witch's Flower is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of May 1st, 2018. The Blu-ray features English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks, and is presented with English SDH, English Subtitles for Japanese Language Version, and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 hr. 42 min.

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