Ghibli lives! Sort of. The spirit of the Japanese animation house is in every frame of its successor - Studio Ponoc - and their delightfully enchanting debut.
An adaptation of The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, Mary (voiced by Ruby Barnhill) is a bored, lonely, curious child, (and therefore the perfect candidate for a fantastical adventure) who is exiled to the care of her great-aunt while her parents attend to some unspecified business. Mary soon discovers a broomstick in the woods, along with a rare flower that transforms her into a powerful witch. The soul of Ghibli isn’t the only thing echoed; Harry Potter fans will be glad to hear that the broomstick whisks Mary up and away to a Hogwarts-like school for witches in the clouds. But Endor College conceals a dark secret, a kind of enchanted vivisection laboratory where animals are magically tampered with.
Director Yonebayashi deftly combines Ghibli hits Kiki’s Delivery Service with Howl’s Moving Castle, and while not hitting the lofty heights of those Miyazaki classics, there is still an abundance of charm and warmth that bleeds from every hand-drawn line and brush stroke. (Jack Whiting) Stunning. Don’t miss.