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Studio Ghibli to Release its First Fully Computer-Animated Film this Winter

The animated light at the end of the tunnel.

Studio Ghibli, the beloved Japanese animation studio known for classics like My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo which are the visual equivalents of a comforting blanket, is releasing a new film in winter this year, Aya and the Witch. The upcoming film shares many of the characteristic Studio Ghibli elements, an interesting young protagonist, fantastical setting and cast of characters, except it’s revolutionary in its form – it is the studio’s first film to be rendered completely in 3D computer animation.  

A collaboration between Hayao Miyazaki and his son, Goro, with Toshio Suzuki producing, Aya and the Witch is an adaption of Diana Wynne Jones’ 2011 novel, Earwig and the Witch. It tells the story of Earwig, an orphaned girl who was left at St Morwald’s Home for Children as a baby, a place which she likes due to her persuasive charms to get her own way. However, her life is upended when she is adopted by a strange woman named Bella Yaga, who is revealed to be a witch. When she is taken to the witch’s home of supernatural trinkets, she must rely on her ingenuity and the help of a talking cat to survive. This film comprises Studio Ghibli’s second adaptation of a Wynne Jones’ novel, their first being the Oscar-nominated 2004 film Howl’s Moving Castle

While many other film releases have been delayed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Aya and the Witch, thankfully, is unaffected, recently announced as part of the lineup for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival. Studio co-founder and producer Toshio Suzuki said in a statement:

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.

Suzuki further praised Aya’s character, hoping she will resonate with audiences as much as another classic figure from children’s literature, Pippi Longstocking

If Pippi Longstocking is the story of the world’s strongest girl, Aya is the story of the world’s smartest girl. Aya 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.

The release date of Aya and the Witch is to be announced, but it is set to air on Japanese television station NHK in winter this year. However, the long wait will prove to be rewarding if Studio Ghibli’s newest film is anything like its predecessors, surely the perfect escapist antidote which we need for these trying times. 

For more escapism, click here to read about the new Japanese well-being trend, forest bathing. 

Featured image via: Studio Ghibli.

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