Education Blog

Viewing: Mary and the Witch's Flower

By Emily Ohara, Education Program Manager & JBFC Kids Curator 06.22.20

Mary and the Witch’s Flower 

102 min. 2017. Japan. English. Rated PG.

Recommended Age: 7+

Read Common Sense Media to learn more about whether Mary and the Witch’s Flower is right for your child. 

Streaming: Netflix , Rent/Buy: Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay


From Studio Ponoc, the new Japanese animation studio created by veterans of Studio Ghibli, Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a fantasy adventure about a daring red-headed girl, a flying broom, and a mysterious, forbidden flower giving Mary magical powers for one night.

Why JBFC Kids Curator Emily Ohara (@TeachEmFilm) recommends it: 

Mary and the Witch’s Flower offers totally relatable characters and also eccentric ones that will linger long after the film is done. The rules of this magical world into which Mary enters is reminiscent of Hogwarts, giving Harry Potter fans a new story to fall in love with. The filmmaker, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, also leans into the charming qualities of Miyazaki movies, especially that of Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the overall message of protecting nature from human, or non-human, experimentation. Cute cats, a magical school for witches, and fighting for animal rights are just a few things in store in this action-packed adventure.

Fun Fact: 

The book that the movie was based on is called The Little Broomstick, by English author Mary Stewart.

Make a prediction!

Before the movie starts, predict which scene you think gave the animators of the film the most difficulty to draw by hand. *Take a look at the answer below after you watch the film.

  1. When Mary meets Madame for the first time, who is in the form of water. 
  2. When the animals transform back and are freed from their cages. 

Answer: (Spoiler Alert!) *Read after watching the film.

The scene where the animals transform back and are freed from their cages and make their escape. Why? There were so many different types of animals which meant animating all their different movements as one group. Even though it was only a few moments on screen, it took them 2 months to complete!

Take it Further:

  • Read the book that the movie was based on. Order it HERE! 
  • See if you can identify different film techniques in the movie by first visiting the JBFC’s Visual Glossary.
  • Watch the behind the scenes on how they cast for the English dubbed voice actors: 

JBFC Kids: At Home Viewing List 

JBFC Kids curator Emily Ohara has selected her favorite films from shorts to documentaries, animations to silent films, these engaging and meaningful stories are fun for the whole family -- And ready to stream!

For parent reviews of each film please visit: