With Studio Ghibli mostly shut down (except for one forthcoming feature film from Hayao Miyazaki), several animators have left the legendary Japanese studio to form their own, which they’ve called Studio Ponoc.
Studio Ponoc’s first feature film, called Mary and the Witch’s Flower in the United States, now has a trailer, and it looks magical. There’s been something of a trend recently in anime of an amalgamation of the classic “magical girl” subgenre with Western Hogwarts-style witchcraft and wizardry. The most well-known example is currently Netflix’s Little Witch Academia, but Mary and the Witch’s Flower is drumming up some serious hype amongst fans. Advance reviews have been very kind—just look at the raving quotes in the trailer itself.
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a longtime Ghibli veteran who directed The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There, the film follows the eponymous young witch as she explores a brand-new world of magic. Here’s the official synopsis, per The Playlist:
Mary is an ordinary young girl stuck in the country with her Great-Aunt Charlotte and seemingly no adventures or friends in sight. She follows a mysterious cat into the nearby forest, where she discovers an old broomstick and the strange Fly-by-Night flower, a rare plant that blossoms only once every seven years and only in that forest. Together the flower and the broomstick whisk Mary above the clouds, and far away to Endor College – a school of magic run by headmistress Madam Mumblechook and the brilliant Doctor Dee. But there are terrible things happening at the school, and when Mary tells a lie, she must risk her life to try to set things right.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower premieres in the United States on Jan. 18.