Follow TV Tropes


Anime / Mary and The Witch's Flower

Go To

For just one night
A mysterious power is yours
What will you do?

Mary and The Witch's Flower is a 2017 anime film by Studio Ponoc, an anime studio composed of former employees of Studio Ghibli (and it really shows). It was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who wrote the screenplay with Riko Sakaguchi with music by Takatsugu Muramatsu and is based on the novel The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart. Studio Ponoc founder Yoshiaki Nishimura served as the film's producer.

Ordinary girl Mary has just moved in with her great-aunt Charlotte. When she plucks a mysterious flower in the woods, she gains newfound magical powers that transport her to Endor College, a prestigious Wizarding School, and is hailed as a once-in-a-lifetime prodigy. However, all is not what it seems, and Mary must stop the nefarious plot at work.

Mary and The Witch's Flower provides examples of:

  • Action Prologue: The film opens with a brave, redheaded witch stealing the fly-by-night from an unknown facility and escaping from mysterious forces. It later turns out that this girl is a young Charlotte, who's keeping the flower away from Madam Mumblechook.
  • Affably Evil: Madam Mumblechook is a friendly and reasonable mistress. Too bad about her plans to reenact the experiments that destroyed Endor's old laboratory.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Mary always calls her flying broom "Little Broomstick!" (The film is, in fact, based on a book called The Little Broomstick.)
  • Alliterative Name: Both Doctor Dee and Madam Mumblechook — the first words are technically titles, but they are consistently referred to that way throughout the film.
  • Amplifier Artifact: What Mumblechook and Dee want to use the flower for.
  • Androcles' Lion: After being freed from the strongroom, the horde of animals (some wild, some not) repay the favor by safely transporting Mary to the laboratory in her hour of need.
  • Artificial Limbs: Doctor Dee wears a prosthetic right arm to replace the one he lost in the previous laboratory's explosion.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Mary discovers that Doctor Dee's transformation experiments have created dozens of horrible animal mishmashes, one of which is Peter's cat Gib, who has become almost frog-like in appearance.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee wanted to use the fly-by-night to give Endor's students unlimited magical power. Unfortunately for them, they got more than what they bargained for.
  • Big Bad: Madam Mumblechook, who is determined to recreate the experiment whose failure was depicted at the start of the movie and does not care if anyone gets hurt in the process.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Mary's eyebrows are pretty prominent.
  • Book-Ends: The film begins and ends with Mary poking at herself in the mirror. In the beginning, she's bored and unhappy, but in the end, she's happily getting along with both Great-Aunt Charlotte and Miss Banks, and is preparing for an outing with Peter.
  • Brick Joke: Peter calls Mary a "red-haired monkey" a few times at the beginning. Later, when the two are escaping Endor College alongside the newly-freed animals, he turns to talk to Mary, only to see an actual red-haired monkey instead.
    Peter: The door's open, Mary! (turns to see that he's talking to a monkey) Oh.
    Mary: (to his left) I'm over here...
  • Cat Stereotype: Tib is a black cat. Mary mentions that they are seen as unlucky, and later he is mistaken as Mary's familiar in a nod to black cats being used by witches.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: "Mary and the Witch's Flower".
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Madam Mumblechook's spellbook. In particular the undo magic spell. Used first by Mary to undo the transformation spells done on the animals that Doctor Dee tested on and then used again by her and Peter to undo the effects of Mumblechook and Dee's experiment with the flower that's nearly enveloped Peter and is destroying the lab.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Inverted when Madame Mumblechook says the school's elevators are powered by electricity and explains that electricity is actually a type of magic.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Mumblechook and Dee were very kind and humble professors back in the day. If the Red-haired Witch hadn't shown them the fly-by-night flower, they never would've gone mad with their heinous experiments.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Mary wants to help others, but is a bit too overeager and tends to do badly when she tries, which she laments to Tib when she first meets him.
  • Cute Witch: Both Mary and the Red-haired Witch from the start of the movie are adorable young women.
  • Cyborg: Doctor Dee's right arm is an extendable prosthetic with a clamp for a hand. There's also some sort of cybernetic embedded into his large head.
  • Determinator: The Red-haired Witch in the beginning. Mary becomes one over the course of the movie.
  • Dispel Magic: The magic cancelling spell in Mumblechook's spell book.
  • Distressed Dude: Peter is one, having been captured and needing rescue in the latter half of the film.
  • The Dragon: Doctor Dee serves as Madam Mumblechook's right-hand man.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: The detransformed animals escape the strongroom in such a manner; they swarm Doctor Dee and run through the school grounds.
  • Evil All Along: Somewhat downplayed since the revelation doesn't take very long to come up, but when we're first introduced to Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee, they appear to be friendly and likable people who treat Mary with praise and respect. Once Mary spills the beans about the fly-by-night flower, their true colors come out.
  • Familiar: Flanagan mistakes Tib for Mary's. They're implied to be common enough at the school.
  • Fantastic Flora: The fly-by-night flower. It glows, blooms only once every seven years, and when its blossoms are crushed, they give off a blue liquid that imparts magical ability, allowing Mary to use spells and bringing the broomstick to life.
  • Fish People: A weird example. Some of the Witch's goons are evidently large fish that can walk around with special yellow suits, but can fly out of them to give chase to a certain broom-flying little red-haired girl.
  • Floating in a Bubble: People are seen floating in bubbles when Mary first see's Endor's hall, and later, the animals float in bubbles while escaping. It adds to Endor's fantastic atmosphere.
  • Flying Broomstick: Mary finds one while walking through a forest. It becomes her trusted mode of transportation.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Doctor Dee is explaining that the group of caged animals going into the strongroom are part of their research on transformation. Tib suddenly tries as hard as he can to run into that room...
    • After his cat is transformed into a frog creature by Dee and Mumblechook, Peter wishes that he was transformed instead, specifically into a grown-up. Come the final act, that's exactly what ends up happening, at least for a few moments.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: Mary first comes upon the fly-by-night flower by following Tib into the misty woods.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee frequently wear glasses, but that doesn't mean they're willing to carry on their transformation experiments.
  • Furry Confusion: The cafeteria workers at Endor consist of anthropomorphic pigs and cows... who are shown preparing pork and beef dishes.
  • Generation Xerox: Both Mary and her Great-Aunt Charlotte opposed Endor's use of the fly-by-night flower and worked to stop the experiments. They even look very similar.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Mary frequently wears her hair in twin tails throughout the day.
  • Gold Fever: While the fly-by-night isn't gold, its magical power has the same effect on Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee when they learn of its existence. Their obsession drove them to the initial experiment that destroyed the school, and time has not diminished their drive to obtain the flower and try again.
  • Here There Were Dragons: Flanagan says the school has been around since the time of dragons, implying they're extinct. A flashback to a field trip shows a load of students standing in what appears to be a huge dragon skull.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Mary briefly falls into one when the Little Broomstick breaks and her magic runs out.
  • Hour of Power: Crushing a fly-by-night flower grants considerable magical power for a few hours at most.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Tib. He tries to warn Mary away from the flower at first, and after Gib disappears he joins Mary to find her. Once they've returned home, he insists Mary use the flower again to save Gib and his boy Peter.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Mary has a version of this, in that she hates her bushy red hair. This relaxes after Madame Mumblechook tells her that red hair is a sign of being an exceptional witch.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: After being trapped by Madam Mumblechook's magic, Peter tells Mary to leave him behind. It doesn't last.
  • Identical Grandson: Evidently, Mary greatly resembled Great-Aunt Charlotte in her youth, to the point that the fire creature looking after Charlotte's old house mistakes Mary for her.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Miss Banks is Great-Aunt Charlotte's housekeeper. She's a friendly, motherly woman who worries after Mary.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The Red-haired Witch in the prologue turns out to be Mary's great-aunt Charlotte.
  • Mad Scientist: Doctor Dee is willing to use the fly-by-night flower to carry on his experiments to animals and humans for evil purposes.
  • Magic Mirror: The Red-Haired Witch has one in her old house, which she uses to give Mary the last blossom from the witch's flower.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: When Mary is empowered by the fly-by-night, flower-shaped marks appear on her palms.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Played for Drama; the creatures in the strongroom seem to have several animal traits mixed together (eg. mammals with butterfly wings), including some with non-animal traits (eg. a koala with crystals on its back). They're the result of Mad Scientist experimentation, and the animals are quite happy to be turned back.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the flashback, the Red-Haired Witch encounters the fly-by-night and gives it to Madame Mumblechook and Doctor Dee, only for them to use it to conduct experiments on animals and eventually on a human victim which leads to the laboratory being blown up.
  • Non-Dubbed Grunts: Tib and Gib are voiced by Ikue Otani and Lynn, respectively, in all foreign-language versions of the film.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Red-haired Witch when she realizes that the Endor College laboratory is about to explode.
    • Mary after her first attempt at gardening fails.
    • Tib when he discovers that Gib has been transformed.
    • Mary when she inadvertently crushes the fly-by-night seed on the Red-haired Witch's broomstick, causing it to take her to Endor College.
    • Peter has a moment of terror when he is forced to leave Mary behind and when he realizes that he's going to be subjected to the same experiment that destroyed Endor's previous laboratory.
    • Mary again after discovering that Mumblechook's spells include Gib transforming into a frog-like being and humans transforming into monsters.
    • Mary when she realizes that her broomstick is destroyed and her magic has disappeared.
    • Finally, Mumblechook and Dee when they find themselves surrounded by the (rightfully pissed off) animals that they previously experimented on.
  • Pensieve Flashback: The Red-Haired Witch draws Mary into a flashback in third-person, allowing her to relive the events in the prologue.
  • Pale Females, Dark Males: Peter's two cats. The female Gib is a light gray; the male Tib is a black cat.
  • Plucky Girl: Braving a huge building while it's still on fire? That's Mary for you.
  • Power Crystal: The extremely rare titular Witch's Flower, or the "fly-by-night", has enough power in one bulb to make Mary an absurdly powerful witch, but only temporarily.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Doctor Dee and Madam Mumblechook use the young Peter as the basis of their transformation experiment. The forsaken child part is justified — Doctor Dee mentions that innocence makes one a more powerful conduit of magic.
  • Red Is Heroic: Mary's red hair is noted several times — although she hates it, it's supposedly the mark of a great witch. She also wears a red jacket throughout the film.
  • The Reveal: Mary's great-aunt Charlotte is the Red-haired Witch who stole the flower seeds at the beginning of the film.
  • Scientifically Understandable Sorcery: Of course wizards study chemistry; what else would potion-making be?
  • Shout-Out:
    • The destruction of Endor College's laboratory after an experiment to see the power of the fly-by-night is a shout-out to Final Fantasy XII, where the city of Nabudis and the Leviathan are destroyed after experiments to see the deifacted nethicite's powers.
    • One of the transformed creatures resembles Venusaur minus the flower on its back.
    • There are several aspects of the film that resemble previous Studio Ghibli works.
      • Physically speaking, Mary borrows elements from Kiki (being a young 'witch' on a broomstick) and Ponyo (with her fiery, messy red hair).
      • Madame Mumblechook's servants bear resemblance to the Blob Men from Howl's Moving Castle and Fujimoto's servants from Ponyo.
      • Peter's metamorphosis first turns him into a young man that resembles Howl; then a sort of all-engulfing blob monster not unlike the Shishigami/Shinigami in Princess Mononoke.
      • Mary rides a deer in a way similar to Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke.
      • The Witch's Flower and Aetherium in Castle in the Sky; both make the main character able to fly, and they produce a similar blue light. See also Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, for comparisons with a previous collaborator of Hayao Miyazaki.
      • The cloud named "the Dragon's Nest" in Castle in the Sky, where the floating island is hidden, and the cloud where is the school of Endor.
      • In the beginning, Mary is bored like Chihiro in Spirited Away; later she has to use a series of steps of a way bordering a precipice, like Chihiro to meet Kamaji; the school of Endor, with its colours and characters, has suggestions of the Palace of Yubaba; Dr. Dee spider-like chair resembles Kamaji; the paper butterfly of Madame Mumblechook is a way to communicate, like the paper dolls of Zeniba; the first, watery apparition of Madame Mumblechook is similar to the river god.
      • Mary encounters a small, blob-like fire creature that powers Charlotte's old house, similar to Howl's Moving Castle's Calcifer.
  • Shown Their Work: The production team traveled to England to do research on the countryside and buildings in order to make them look as authentic as possible. Not to mention that the English dub, appropriately enough, features actors based in the United Kingdom.
  • Spell Book: Mary steals an important one from Mumblechook's office. It turns out to be the one used by Mumblechook to create the experiments that caused the laboratory's destruction at Endor.
  • Take Up My Sword: The broomstick and the flower Mary finds come from the Red-haired Witch (who began the quest that Mary later completes).
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: By giving the "fly-by-night" to Doctor Dee and Madam Mumblechook, Charlotte, a.k.a the Red-haired Witch, inadvertently caused the catastrophe that plagued Endor's laboratory.
  • Uplifted Animal: Doctor Dee turns animals into Petting Zoo People and has them work at the school.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Doctor Dee and Madam Mumblechook want to help students obtain unlimited magical power... by subjecting them to experiments using the fly-by-night.
  • Wizarding School: Endor College which Mary is given a tour of during the middle of the film. It teaches young witches and wizards several disciplines, and its professors are also involved in research.
  • Words Do Not Make The Magic: When Peter asks Mary if they can undo the magic trapping by chanting from the Spell Book, Mary says that chanting won't work alone because you need to have actual magic powers.
  • World Tree: Part of the floating island that Endor College is on has a gigantic tree where Doctor Dee's experiments with the flower take place.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Madam Mumblechook has purple hair.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: When Mary brings the fly-by-night flower to Endor College, she demands "Where is Peter? You said you would let him go!" Of course, they don't care and just capture her to "study."
  • Youthful Freckles: Mary has these within her Blush Stickers. They're a visual indicator that she's a young girl, and go with her red hair.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Mary has Grade B black socks as part of her usual outfit, at least for the first half of the film.