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Anime / Mary and The Witch's Flower

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

Mary and The Witch's Flower is a 2017 anime film based on the novel The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart. The first film to be produced by Studio Ponoc, it was directed by co-founder and former Studio Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi, with the screenplay written by Yonebayashi and Riko Sakaguchi (When Marnie Was There). It was released on July 8, 2017.

The film tells the story of Mary Smith (voiced by Hana Sugisaki), an ordinary English girl who has just moved in with her great-aunt, Charlotte (Shinobu Otake). When she plucks a mysterious flower in the woods, she gains newfound magical powers that take her to Endor College, a prestigious Wizarding School, where Madam Mumblechook (Yūki Amami) and Doctor Dee (Fumiyo Kohinata) both revere her as a once-in-a-lifetime prodigy. However, all is not what it seems and she must stop the nefarious plot at work.


The film also stars Ryunosuke Kamiki as Peter, Hikari Mitsushima as the Red-Haired Witch, Jiro Sato as Flanagan, Kenichi Endo as Zebedee, and Eri Watanabe as Mrs. Banks.

Mary and The Witch's Flower provides examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Flanagan shows up to help Mary not once, but twice by returning her broom when she needs it most: first when escaping Endor with Peter, and again when needing a ride back home. He even goes as far as repairing the broomstick the second time! The funny thing is that both times Flanagan shows up, it's to reprimand Mary for her improper broom care before flying off his own way, and almost comes off as contrived.
  • Action Prologue: In the opening flashback, the brave Red-Haired Witch steals the Fly-By-Night just before the Endor College laboratory blows up. As it later turns out, the girl is a young Charlotte, who's keeping the flower away from her former teachers.
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  • Adaptation Title Change: Mary and the Witch's Flower is based on the novel The Little Broomstick.
  • 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 Broomstick "Little Broomstick!" in a nod to the fact that the film is 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: The Fly-By-Night flower has gooey, magical energy that can give a normal person magical powers and enhance the existing powers of a witch. Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee want to use it for their experiments so they can enhance the magic of all witches and change the world through magic.
  • 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.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Mary is a normal girl, but temporarily gains the ability to use magic when she's exposed to the effects of the Fly-By-Night.
  • Artificial Limbs: Doctor Dee wears a prosthetic right arm to replace the one he lost, supposedly in a laboratory accident. It's later revealed that he lost his right arm to a laboratory explosion when the first experiments with the Fly-By-Night went horribly wrong.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Near the climax, Mary is given the last Fly-By-Night seed by her Great-Aunt Charlotte, but loses it before she can use it. She then finds another in a sealed lab container, but ultimately saves the day in an unorthodox method.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Mary discovers that The Dragon's transformation experiments have created dozens of horrible animal mishmashes, including Peter's cat, Gib, who has become almost frog-like in appearance. Later, Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee tries to make Peter a witch with godlike power, but the magic is too much to be controlled and it ends up turning Peter into a Blob Monster instead.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Mary, feeling useless and bored at her Great-Aunt Charlotte's home, wishes that she could have some excitement in her life. After finding the Fly-By-Night flowers, she becomes a witch and is introduced to magic, something she initially enjoys. But then she witnesses the dangers of magic once she discovers the caged transformed animals in the strongroom and that her lies had led to Peter becoming a test subject and turned into a magic-absorbing abomination.
    • Peter wanted to be more grown-up so he could help look after his mother. While subjected to Mumblechook and Dee's experiments, Peter briefly transforms into a handsome young man with colorful butterfly wings on his back... before he destabilizes due to being physically unable to control so much magic and transforms into a magic-absorbing monster.
    • Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee wanted to use the Fly-By-Night to give Endor's students unlimited magical power. Unfortunately for them, they ended up turning the volunteered students into magical abominations, and the ensuing accidents have cost them dearly.
  • Big Bad: Madam Mumblechook is responsible for all the danger in this plot and stopping her evil plan is Mary's main objective.
  • Big Good: Mumblechook is the benevolent mistress of Endor College who's impressed by Mary's talents in creating spells. It's eventually subverted as she turns out to be Evil All Along alongside Doctor Dee. She used to be a kind and humble teacher who cared for her students, but after the Red-Haired Witch showed her the Fly-By-Night flower, she became obsessed with imbuing people with godlike power. She's working with Dee to recreate the experiment that resulted in the catastrophic destruction of Endor College years prior.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Mary's eyebrows are pretty prominent.
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with Mary poking at herself in the mirror. In the beginning, she's bored and unhappy with herself. 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...
  • Casting Gag:
  • 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. He's also the reason why Mary was able to learn about the Fly-By-Night flowers in the first place.
  • 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: The Big Bad and The Dragon were very kind and humble professors back in the day. If the Red-Haired Witch hadn't shown them the Fly-By-Night, they would've never 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.
  • 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.
  • Dispel Magic: One of the spells in Mumblechook's book can easily repel magic, as demonstrated when Mary returns the transformed animals to their true forms.
  • Distressed Dude: During the latter half of the film, Mumblechook and Dee kidnap Peter to make him a witch with godlike power.
  • Downer Beginning: The film begins with the Red-Haired Witch escaping with the fly-by-night from Endor College just before the college's laboratory blows up.
  • The Dragon: Doctor Dee serves as Madam Mumblechook's right-hand man.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: When the de-transformed animals escape the strongroom, they destroy the door by continuously ramming into it, then when the entrance is open, they swarm Doctor Dee and run through the school grounds in their attempt to escape.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Mary's reaction to Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee's true colors is shock.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: After Mary gets thrown into Doctor Dee's transformation lab, she encounters the transformed animals in their cages. This leads to her deducing that Dee has been transforming the animals using Madam Mumblechook's spell book.
    • Another moment in the climax where Doctor Dee tells Mary that the blob monster can use any spell. With Peter's help, they use the undo spell to reverse the changes done to him.
  • 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.
  • Evil Brit: Given the film and the novel that it is based upon is set in Britain, Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee have upper-class British accents.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Overhearing a conversation between Charlotte and Zebedee the gardener, Mary learns that Peter has disappeared and Zebedee is helping Peter's father look for him. She realizes that Peter has been kidnapped by Madam Mumblechook, and that she's responsible for it by lying about the Fly-By-Night flowers and saying Peter has them.
  • Fallen Hero: According to the Red-Haired Witch, Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee used to be caring teachers before they became obsessed with the Fly-By-Night flower and performed unethical experiments with it. The Red-Haired Witch rebelled against her teachers by stealing some seeds, but during her escape, she was attacked by Madam Mumblechook's minions, causing the seeds to be supposedly lost forever.
  • Familiar: Flanagan mistakes Tib for Mary's. They're implied to be common enough at Endor College.
  • 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 temporary yet incredible magical ability, allowing Mary to use spells and bringing the Little Broomstick to life.
  • Fat Bastard: Madam Mumblechook has a large physique in proportionate to her height and is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who experiments on animals and humans with the Fly-By-Night.
  • Final Boss: After absorbing Mumblechook's magic and rendering her completely powerless, Peter the blob monster becomes the main threat at the end of the film.
  • 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 the Red-Haired Witch.
  • Floating Continent: The Little Broomstick takes Mary to a floating island above the clouds, where Madam Mumblechook mistakes her for a new student at Endor College.
  • Floating in a Bubble: People are seen floating in bubbles when Mary first sees Endor's hall. Later, the animals that were transformed by Doctor Dee float in bubbles while escaping. It adds to Endor's fantastic atmosphere.
  • Flying Broomstick: Mary finds the Little Broomstick while walking through a forest. It becomes her trusted mode of transportation.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: Mary first comes upon the Fly-By-Night flower by following Tib and Gib into the misty woods.
  • Food Porn: As typical of former Studio Ghibli personnel, food is shown with lavish detail. The luncheon area of Endor College deserves special mention, with pork and beef being cooked and prepared by... anthromorphic pigs and cows. Mary even states that "lunchtime" would be a potential favorite subject after looking at the food.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Madam Mumblechook explains to Mary that one of their most difficult areas of magic to practice is transformation. Given what happens whenever she and Doctor Dee try to transform young witches into godlike beings with extraordinary power, she isn't lying.
    • 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 to the final act, that's exactly what ends up happening, at least for a few moments.
    • While escaping Mumblechook, the Little Broomstick takes Mary to an abandoned house that's looked after by a fire spirit, who recognizes her as the house's "owner" through her red hair. This is because the Red-Haired Witch once lived here.
  • For Want of a Nail: If the Red-Haired Witch hadn't given the Fly-By-Night to Mumblechook and Dee, their Gold Fever might have been avoided, countless other children would still be alive and the Endor College laboratory would not have been blown up.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee frequently wear glasses. They turn out to be the main villains, willing to blackmail Mary into giving them the Fly-By-Night flowers and carry on their transformation experiments on children. They used to be much kinder people, but after the Red-Haired Witch introduced them to the Fly-By-Night flowers, they became obsessed with obtaining power from it.
  • 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 high pigtails throughout the day. She spends the latter half of the movie with her hair down, completing the quest that the Red-Haired Witch began.
  • 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.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Red-Haired Witch from the prologue. It was her daring escape with the Fly-By-Night flowers that set up the events of the film.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mary briefly falls into one when the Little Broomstick is destroyed and her magic runs out.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Doctor Dee and Madam Mumblechook use the Fly-By-Night flower on Peter to test out how powerful it is on a human like they did years before. It's powerful enough to burn the laboratory and drain Mumblechook's magic. Not only that but Mary stealing Mumblechook's book of spells gives the former the perfect opportunity to undo the transformation of the animals and completely destroy the laboratory.
  • 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 Fly-By-Night 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 her great-aunt, Charlotte, back when she was the Red-Haired Witch so much that the fire creature looking after the Red-Haired Witch'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 Action 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 with 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 and Peter are empowered by the Fly-By-Night, flower-shaped marks appear on their 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. Unfortunately, when she gives it to Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee, they decide to conduct experiments on animals and eventually on a human victim which ultimately leads to the destruction of Endor College's laboratory.
    • By lying about being a student at Endor College and saying that Peter has the Fly-By-Nights, Mary ultimately ends up causing Peter to become yet another test subject for Mumblechook and Dee.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Had Madam Mumblechook chose to keep her book in a safe place instead of behind a mirror, Mary would never have learned the spell to undo all of Mumblechook's magic.
  • Non-Dubbed Grunts: Tib and Gib are voiced by Ikue Otani and Lynn, respectively, in all foreign-language versions of the film.
  • Obliviously Evil: Madam and Dr. Dee are obsessed with harnessing the power of the Fly-By-Night and engage in cruelties like animal and human experimentation, kidnapping, and ransom demands, but completely lack self-awareness regarding the morality of their actions and appear to think they're genuinely acting for the betterment of the world and that this end goal justified their extreme measures. After all they've put her through, they actually show what appears to be genuine concern for Mary's wellbeing during the failure of the second experiment, which seems to indicate that in some twisted way, they actually do care for her and the others around them that they've endangered.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When the Endor College laboratory explodes at the beginning of the film, the Red-Haired Witch stares at it in complete horror.
    • Mary gets taken by surprise the moment the Little Broomstick takes her to Endor College and later when she meets Flanagan for the first time after she inadvertently crashes into his broom collection.
    • When Mary realizes that Madam Mumblechook has led her to Peter, her reaction is that of utter shock.
    • Mumblechook is understandably shocked and outraged the moment she realizes that the animals Mary and Peter have set free have escaped and her book has been stolen.
    • Peter panics the moment he realizes that he's going to be subjected to the same experiment that destroyed Endor's previous laboratory.
    • Mumblechook and Dee briefly share a moment of terror when their experiment fails once again and later when they find themselves surrounded by the understandably upset 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: Of Peter's two cats, Gib is a light gray female cat while Tib is a black tomcat.
  • Pet the Dog: Madam Mumblechook and Dr. Dee spend most of the film engaging in cruelties such as animal and human experimentation, kidnapping, and giving Stern Chase. But after their experiment goes wrong for a second time and causes disaster, they do show genuine concern for Mary's wellbeing and tell Mary to flee and save herself when it looks like she's about to charge into the fray. As terrible as their actions throughout the film are, this implies they do, to some extent, care about the lives of those around them, and lines up with Aunt Charlotte's opinion that they were once good people whose ambitions drove them to immoral extremes.
  • Pinocchio Nose: As Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee's praises of her magic go to her head, Mary starts believing the lie that she does have talent. The tell is Tib, who rolls his eyes.
  • Power Crystal: The titular Fly-By-Night flower 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Madam Mumblechook is friendly enough to show Mary around Endor College and take her on as a student. Or so it originally seems...
  • Red Is Heroic: Mary's red hair is noted several times — although she hates it, it's supposedly the mark of a great witch in a nod to the medieval notion of red hair as the sign of a witch. She also wears a red jacket throughout the film.
  • Red Right Hand: Doctor Dee has a red robotic right arm and and serves as Mumblechook's right-hand man.
  • The Reveal: Mary's great-aunt, Charlotte, is the Red-Haired Witch who stole the Fly-By-Night in the Action Prologue.
  • Scientifically Understandable Sorcery: Of course, witches and 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 airship 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, given that Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Yoshiaki Nishimura and most of the staff previously worked at the studio.
      • Physically speaking, Mary borrows elements from Kiki (being a young 'witch' on a Flying Broomstick) and Ponyo (with her fiery, messy red hair). It also helps that she travels with a black cat on the Little Broomstick.
      • Right at the beginning, there are several to Whisper of the Heart, with Peter - a snarky boy on a bike making fun of the protagonist - resembling Seiji, plus the scene that has Mary following a cat to a mystical place. This cat also belong to the aforementioned boy in both cases.
      • 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 a Floating Continent 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 colors and characters, has suggestions of the Palace of Yubaba; Doctor 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 the Red-Haired Witch's old house, similar to Howl's Moving Castle's Calcifer.
  • Doctor Dee's robotic servants greatly resemble the Starmen from Earthbound.
  • The mutated animals that Doctor Dee experimented on comes to mind of the chimeras from Mother 3.
  • 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.
  • Stout Strength: Mumblechook may have an overweight physique, but she has powerful strength, as demonstrated when she yanks Peter with her magical powers to have him undergo the same transformation that caused the disaster at Endor College
  • Take Up My Sword: The Little Broomstick and the Fly-By-Night flower Mary finds come from the Red-Haired Witch, who began the quest that Mary later completes.
  • This Cannot Be!: At the end of the film, Mumblechook laments "It can't be!" when she realizes that the experiment is going to fail again.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Charlotte is voiced by Shinobu Otake and Lynda Baron as an old woman and by Hikari Mitsushima and Teresa Gallagher as the Red-Haired Witch.
  • Uplifted Animal: Doctor Dee turns animals anthropomorphic and has them work at the school.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Dee goes into a brief panic when the animals resume their true forms and escape the laboratory.
    • Mumblechook loses it when not only have the animals escaped, but Mary has stolen her book of spells.
    • Mumblechook has a similar reaction when her Fly-By-Night experiment fails yet again.
  • 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 teaches young witches and wizards several disciplines, and its professors are also involved in research. During the middle of the film, Madam Mumblechook gives Mary a tour there, mistaking Mary for a new student.
  • 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.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The results of Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee transforming humans into witches can cause disastrous results. Just ask Peter.
  • 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!" They only want to 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.