While we may not have Studio Ghibli anymore, we do have some hopeful news for the future: several Ghibli veterans have teamed up to found Studio Ponoc, and their first feature comes out this summer! Mary and the Witch’s Flower is based on Mary Stewart’s children’s classic, The Little Broomstick. The Japanese trailer is out now, click through to watch it!
Slate has an English translation here. The subtitles read “For just one night, a mysterious power is yours. What will you do?” and, pointedly I think, “The Magic Returns.” Add in a judgey cat, lovingly animated clouds, and all the shots of Mary sailing along on a broomstick that call a certain delivery service-founding witch to mind, and it seems that the new studio is directly positioning itself as Ghibli’s successor.
Studio Ponoc was founded by Studio Ghibli’s Hiromasa Yonebayashi (director of Arietty and When Marnie was There) and Yoshiaki Nishimura, and employs several other alums from the studio. The key difference with Ghibli is highlighted in a quote from Nishimura, who said that Mary and the Witch’s Flower is for children “moving into a 21st century that’s different from the one their parents imagined for them. I think we all had a vision of what the world would be like, but it’s not the one we’re moving into. So what filmmakers should say at a time when people are losing hope – and what kind of film might help restore it in our children – are big themes for right now.” This stands in direct contrast to Ghibli’s tendency to move into romanticized pasts, fantasy realms, or, in Kiki‘s case, an alternate history Europe where World War II never took place. It will be interesting to see where Studio Ponoc goes in the future, and in the meantime, you can read more about Mary and the Witch’s Flower over at Slate and Anime News Network!