Studio Ghibli has announced that its new project will be Aya And The Witch, based on the children’s book Earwig And The Witch by Diana Wynne Jones. The film is adapted from a story that was penned by the same writer behind Howl’s Moving Castle.
Wynne Jones’ book tells the story of an orphan girl named Earwig, who is adopted by a wicked witch called Bella Yaga. With help from a talking cat and a spell or two, Earwig must try to survive and escape from Bella’s clutches.
Aya And The Witch will be directed by Goro Miyazaki, the son of Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, who has previously worked on titles such as Tales from Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill. The film will be a landmark in style for Studio Ghibli as the film has been made with computer-generated animation for the first time since the studio opened in 1985.
Ghibli co-founder and producer, Toshio Suzuki, expressed some initial concerns with releasing the film given the current climate. “I thought that a number of times while watching the rushes,” he said. “Then I realised that one stand-out feature of the film is Aya’s cleverness. And if you are clever, you can survive in any period of history. Thinking that, I felt relieved.”
Aya And The Witch was originally scheduled to premiere during the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, but the event was cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite this, the upcoming Ghibli film has been announced among Cannes’ official selection for 2020.
It has been almost six years since Studio Ghibli released their latest film When Marnie Was There. Announced by production company NHK Enterprises, Aya and The Witch will premiere later this year on Japan’s NHK general TV under the name Aya to Majo. It’s currently unknown when it will be released outside of Japan.
Words by Charlie Vogelsang