Japanese animation hit draws on Shropshire roots - watch the trailer

A blockbuster cartoon is wowing audiences around the world – and it is set in the heart of Shropshire.

A still from Mary and the Witch's Flower
A still from Mary and the Witch's Flower

Mary and the Witch's Flower is the first film by Japanese animators Studio Ponoc, a spiritual successor to Japan's most famous film company, Studio Ghibli.

It tells the story of a young, friendless girl trapped on a grand country estate. She feels that nothing could ever possibly happen in Shropshire.

But with the help of cats Tib and Gib, she discovers a magical flower that transports her to a school for witches.

Watch the official trailer:

Arriving at Endor College, she discovers not everything is at it seems – and vows to stop the darkness ingrained at the school.

The film, which stars Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent in the English dub, is based on the 1971 novel The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart.

The creators flew into the county during their development stage to nail the Shropshire feel of the film.

The visit allowed them to both learn more about the look of the area, as well as discover more about English culture. A box of Celebrations was among the items they added to the film as a result of their trip.

Mastermind

Sometimes called the Disney of Japan, Studio Ghibli produced five of the country's top ten grossing films, including Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, before beginning to wind down in 2014.

The mastermind director behind many of their greatest films, Hayao Miyazaki, announced he would return for one more production last year, effectively reviving the Ghibli name for one more film, expected to arrive in 2021.

A still from Mary and the Witch's Flower

But by that point Studio Ponoc had already released the Japanese version of Mary and the Witch's Flower and was working on the international release.

The film was released in America earlier this year, following a Japanese release in July 2017.

It is expected to arrive at select British cinemas from around May.

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