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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Catch the future of Japanese animation on Thursday

For the past couple of years, the great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has flirted with retirement. And though his name keeps being attached to new projects, the thought lingers: What will we do without him?

The answer may come in part with a movie that will screen Thursday night at both Northtown Mall and Coeur d'Alene's Riverstone Stadium theaters. Fathom Events will host a special presentation of "Mary and the Witch's Flower," an animated feature directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi.

The film, which will screen in an English-dubbed version at 7 and in a subtitled version at 8, is based on the 1971 book "The Little Broomstick," by Mary Stewart. It tells the story of a magic flower, one that blooms every seven years, that falls into the hands of a young girl, granting her special powers.

As critic Justin Chang wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "If Yonebayashi’s movie doesn’t have the visual richness and imaginative depth of Ghibli masterpieces like Hayao Miyazaki’s 'Spirited Away,' its emotional warmth and wondrously inviting hand-drawn imagery carry on that company’s proud tradition."

Yonebayashi was nominated for an Oscar for his 2014 film "When Marnie Was There." The spirit of Studio Ghibli lives on.