'Mary and the Witch’s Flower' was announced as the first feature length anime Film from Studio Ponoc this Thursday. Ponoc was founded by ex-Studio Ghibli employees, director Hiromasa Yonebayashi (The Secret World of Arrietty, When Marnie Was There) and producer Yoshiaki Nishimura (The Tale of Princess Kaguya), who also have a number of former staff on the project. The film, based on Mary Stewart's children's story 'The Little Broomstick', will debut in summer 2017 according to its recently released trailers (in both English and Japanese), though a more specific date or distributor is as yet unknown.

What's Ponoc's film about?

The animated fantasy film is about a little girl named Mary, who is lead into the forest by a black cat named Tib. There, she finds a magical broomstick that transports her to a magical world of witchcraft and magic, and must save Tib from being turned into a horrible monster by the evil Miss Mumblechook, and her sidekick, Doctor Dee. The original book was written in 1971, one of three children's books written by the Scottish-born Stewart, who was primarily a romance and suspense novelist. Other of her books adapted to screen include 'The Moon-Spinners' (1971) for Disney, and the television series 'Merlin of the Crystal Cave' (1971). She passed away in 2014.

How did Ponoc come into existence?

Recent years have proven turbulent for Japan's anime industry, and even Ghibli was not spared this, announcing its shutdown in 2014 following the retirement of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki after 'The Wind Rises'. 'When Marnie Was There' was Ghibli's final feature film, released in 2014 and subsequently nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 88th Academy Awards.

Studio Ponoc was founded on April 15, 2015, Nishimura choosing the name from the Croatian word for midnight. Previously, Ponoc has directed television commercials for the West Japan Railway Company in 2015. As for Ghibli itself, it helped co-produce The Red Turtle, a French-Belgian-Japanese animated film.