watch a trailer for former studio ghibli animators' bewitching first film

Mary and the Witch's Flower — the first feature from Studio Ponoc, a new animation house of former Ghibli staffers — arrives just one day after the newly restored trailer for Ocean Waves, an early 90s Ghibli film rarely seen outside of Japan. Watch...

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Dec 16 2016, 9:55am

It's been an excellent year for Studio Ghibli fans. In July, a massive exhibition celebrating 30 years of the seminal animation house's vibrant history was mounted in its native Japan, which was followed by news that Ghibli's debut TV series (produced around the same time, late 2013, that director Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement and the studio's temporary closure) will indeed air. Last month, Miyazaki revealed that he plans to emerge from retirement for one final film: Kemushi No Boro, or Boro The Caterpillar — a story he's been working on for 20 years.

And if that wasn't enough, some of Ghibli's greatest hits have been returning to US theatres. Spirited Away screened earlier this month in celebration of its 15th anniversary; in January, Princess Mononoke will make its 20th anniversary return to theaters, coinciding with Miyazaki's 76th birthday. This week, the Ghibli good news just keeps on rolling.

Ocean Waves — a 1993 film rarely viewable outside of Japan — has been given a digital restoration, and a new trailer, which debuted earlier this week. Like many other Ghibli films, Ocean Waves treats teen issues with emotional sensitivity; it's the story of two best friends who both fall for the same transfer student, and the struggle their friendship endures.

Just one day after Ocean Waves's restored trailer was released, the former Studio Ghibli staffers behind Studio Ponoc, a new Japanese animation house, unveiled their debut project: Mary and the Witch's Flower. Helmed by Yoshiaki Nishimura and Hiromasa Yonebayashi (who both worked on Studio Ghibli's most recent film, When Marnie Was There) the film is an adaptation of a 1971 children's book, The Little Broomstick.

Its trailer is only 32 seconds long, but promises a thrilling adventure. After Mary discovers a broomstick in the woods and takes it for a joyride, she undertakes a harrowing journey to a school for witches. There, she discovers animal mistreatment, and crusades to free the creatures from captivity. She must face the ramifications of these actions by discovering what magic lies within.

Mary and the Witch's Flower won't be released until spring 2017, but Ocean Waves is crashing into theaters far sooner. The restored film will screen at New York's IFC Center and L.A.'s Egyptian Theater on December 28. More information here.

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Text Emily Manning