It was not long ago that Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki provided an update on the animation house’s ongoing projects; Hayao Miyazaki’s don’t-call-me-retired next feature, How Do You Live?, which was coming along on schedule but slowly. The other project was a new film from Goro Miyazaki, son of director of films like From Up on Poppy Hill, and son of Hayao. Though he played coy then, Suzuki and Ghibli have revealed Goro’s film to be Aya and the Witch, the studio’s first fully-3D-animated film.
Aya is based on Diana Wynne Jones’ 2011 children’s book Earwig and the Witch, with the synopsis as follows:
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.
It’s worth noting that Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki’s 2004 feature for Ghibli, was also based on the novel of the same name by Jones.
The film is being touted as the studio’s first fully-3D-CG-animated film, as opposed to the hand-drawn process the elder Miyazaki’s How Do You Live? is currently undergoing.
Given the shuttered status of theaters globally under the ongoing pandemic, Aya and the Witch will premiere on NHK television in Japan, with international release to be determined. Take heed that Goro’s film From Up on Poppy Hill released in the US just under two years after its 2011 premiere in Japan, so a speedy stateside distribution isn’t necessarily a given.
One hopes Aya will reach the global audience that clamors for it sooner than later though, so stay tuned for more news.