Studio Ghibli Passes The Torch With Studio Ponoc's Debut "Mary And The Witch's Flower"
Back in 2014, Hayao Miyazaki announced he would be retiring and that Studio Ghibli would be temporarily shutting down. This left many fans wondering what kind of future his beloved studio had in store. In comes Yoshiaki Nishimura. Yoshiaki worked on several projects for studio Ghibli, including Howl's Moving Castle, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, The Tale of Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There. In 2015 he founded Studio Ponoc with several animators formerly with Studio Ghibli. (According to their wiki, the name of the studio comes from the Serbo-Croatian word ponoć, for "midnight", meant to signify "the beginning of a new day".)
When they announced their first feature film, Mary and the Witch's Flower, the Miyazaki influence was immediately recognizable. The beautiful animation, the entrancing score, the strong female protagonist, and the Ghibli-esque magic were all there. The movie (based on The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart) was released in 2017 and was brought to the US on January 18th, thanks to a special, one night premier by Fathom Events. The DVD and Blu Ray are set to release in March of 2018. The English dubbed version will have Ruby Barnhill (best known for 2016's BFG) as Mary, Ewen Bremner (Best known for Wonder Woman, Snow Piercer and Pearl Harbor) as Flanagan and Jim Broadbent (who you might know as Professor Horace Slughorn in Harry Potter.)
So far the movie has been receiving great reviews. It will be interesting to see if the studio branches out into other animation styles over the years or if they'll always stay true to the Ghibli model. However, only time will tell if Studio Ponoc will be able to maintain the consistent quality that Miyazaki was able to bring to the table.