Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for June 8th, 2018

Mary and the Witch’s Flower ***

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 8th June, 2018

Mary and the Witch's FlowerJapanese anime have rightly won a global reputation. Compared with the often saccharine products from Disney et al the films often have an appealing edge to them. In Mary and the Witch’s Flower, director Hiromasa Yonebayashi takes the very English magical mystery story The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart and gives it a Japanese makeover. Thus the plucky little heroine Mary could well have been a figure in a movie by the great Hayao Miyazaki, to whose work Yonebayashi gives more than a few nods. There are some spectacular action visuals — with lots of flashing lights — that are distinctive and form a sometimes startling counterpoint to the chocolate-box setting of Mary’s great-aunt Charlotte’s rural home, to which the little girl has been sent out of her parents’ way. Quickly bored, Mary sets out for adventure and soon encounters a cheeky boy as well as two cats (my favourite characters) before being whisked off on a magic broomstick to a sinister magic school beyond the clouds. Inevitably Harry Potter and Hogwarts come to mind, but Yonebayashi opts for Middle Eastern oriental rather than Victorian Gothic for his house of spells. Some of the magic effects are memorable, but others I found rather banal, which mean that the overall effect is not as striking as it could be. Children may love it, however.

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