Since first hitting the scene in 1986, Japanese-based Studio Ghibli has delivered some of the world’s most beloved animated films. With Hayao Miyazaki out of retirement, the studio doesn’t seem to be slowing down. That observation is made even more apparent today, as Studio Ghibli has released some still images of their next project, Aya and the Witch.
Based on the book Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones (who is also responsible for the novel that inspired Howl’s Moving Castle), Aya tells the story of a girl named Earwig, who finds herself adopted by a terrible witch called Bella Yaga. Now a resident of Yaga’s enchanted home, Earwig must find a way to survive her new, mysterious environment. With the help of a talking cat, of course.
Magic, talking cats, an independent female protagonist? Sounds like standard Studio Ghibli, in all the best ways. What separates Aya from the rest, of course, is that it’s a fully CGI film—the first in the studio’s history. Studio Ghibli has been lauded as one of the last surviving crusaders of theatrical 2D animation, but it seems that even they can’t deny the benefits that come with computers. Their foray into the new medium has already sparked debate amongst animation fans. Personally, it looks charming, but it’s difficult to form a concrete opinion until we see the characters and environments in motion. I’m curious to see how the studio tackles this new frontier, and how it may differ from their western counterparts. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the story and characters—both of which seem wonderfully eccentric so far.
Directed by Goro Miyazaki, Ayaand the Witch is set to premiere this winter, on Japan’s NHK.
Hey, I’m Q Anderson, a New York native born and raised on Long Island. An avid lover of drawing, music, writing, travel, video games, and animation. I’m currently a first-year student at Lynn University, pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Media. When not absorbed by schoolwork, my focus is on world-traveling and development on original, creative projects like comics and graphic novels. Since childhood, the Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons have been my source of escapism, as well as my source for creative inspiration. To take a drawing, and imbue it with believable human emotions is something that enraptures my mind in ways that live-action has never been able to accomplish. Of the lot though, my favorite animated movies are 1992’s Aladdin, followed closely by 2001’s Spirited Away.