Aya and the Witch: Studio Ghibli sets new animated film for winter 2020
After nearly six years since Studio Ghibli released the animated drama film When Marnie Was There in 2014, the award-winning Japanese animation studio has officially announced their upcoming and newest animated film titled Aya and the Witch will be their first-ever CG film. Set to make its debut sometime this winter on Japan’s NHK network, the project hails from Goro Miyazaki, the son of Spirited Away director Hayao Miyazaki, who is also being credited with the planning of the film.
“After corona, how the world changes? That’s the biggest concern for many types of people now. Even the movie and television industry can’t avoid that,” Studio Ghibli co-founder and producer Toshio Suzuki said in a statement (translation via EW). “Can Aya and the Witch do well after corona? I thought about that many times when I was watching the early footage. Then I realized the big characteristic of the movie is Aya’s wisdom. If only we have wisdom, we can overcome anything in any era. When I thought about that, I was relieved.”
He added, “If Pippi Longstocking is the story of the world’s strongest girl, Aya is the story of the world’s smartest girl. She is cheeky but somehow cute. I hope she is loved by many types of people. By the way, I thought Aya reminded me of someone, then it turned out it was Goro himself, who was the director of the movie. When I told that to him he looked bashful.”
Aya and the Witch will be based on 2011 children’s novel titled Earwig and the Witch which was written by the late British author Diana Wynne Jones, who have also written the source novel for Studio Ghibli’s popular fantasy film Howl’s Moving Castle. The novel follows the story of a smart orphan girl named Earwig as she gets adopted by a woman named Bella Yaga, who turns out to be cruel witch that takes her to live in a haunted house.
The novel’s official synopsis reads: “In this enchanting introduction to Diana Wynne Jones’s magical and funny work, Earwig is a fearless young orphan. When she finds herself in a house of dark magic, she does whatever she can to adapt—especially if it means that she’ll learn a little magic herself! A young middle grade novel by World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement‒winner Diana Wynne Jones, beautifully illustrated in black and white by Caldecott Medalist Paul O. Zelinsky.
Not every orphan would love living at St. Morwald’s Home for Children, but Earwig does. She gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants it, and it’s been that way since she was dropped on the orphanage doorstep as a baby. But all that changes the day Bella Yaga and the Mandrake come to St. Morwald’s, disguised as foster parents. Earwig is whisked off to their mysterious house full of invisible rooms, potions, and spell books, with magic around every corner. Most children would run in terror from a house like that . . . but not Earwig. Using her own cleverness—with a lot of help from a talking cat—she decides to show the witch who’s boss.”
Aya and the Witch is a co-production by Studio Ghibli, NHK and NEP. Further details about its theatrical release and U.S. release are still unknown but given the studio’s partnership with HBO Max, it’s likely that the upcoming CG animated film would also get to debut on WarnerMedia’s recently released streaming service.