“Mary and the Witch’s Flower” is something of a miracle. Regardless of its merits as a movie, the fact that it even exists in such a dire time for animated cinema is something worth celebrating. It was only a few years ago, in August 2014, when the peerless Studio Ghibli announced it was re-evaluating its future in the wake of financial hardships and Hayao Miyazaki’s supposed retirement — the move seemed to confirm the collective fear that the world’s most consistently brilliant film studio was lost without the visionary storyteller responsible for so much of its immortal output.
Back then, the news felt like a potentially fatal blow for hand-drawn animation, the final surrender of a cold war that had started with friendly fire (Pixar) and ended with outright humiliation (“The Emoji Movie”). But all was not lost.
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