Much to the delight of fans, animation legend Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have announced their latest feature animation, Aya to Majo (Aya and the Witch). A co-production between Studio Ghibli, NHK and NHK Enterprise, the film is set to be released on NHK this winter.
Based on the tale of Earwig and the Witch, written by Diana Wynne Jones, the story revolves around Aya, a young orphan who is adopted by an evil witch and brought to a strange, new home, where she has to use her wits to survive, and eventually discovers powers of her own. Jones also wrote Howl’s Moving Castle, which was also adapted by Studio Ghibli and released in 2004.
Also mark a rare departure in style for Studio Ghibli as this is the first film to be made with 3D3G, computer-generated animation. While Hayao Miyazaki is planning the project, his son, Goro Miyazaki will be directing.
When asked what he thought about releasing the film post-Covid, producer Toshio Suzuki revealed that although he did think about that while watching the rushes, he was ultimately inspired by the main character, Aya, and her cleverness. “With wisdom, you can overcome any period in time. If Pippi Longstocking is the strongest girl in the world, Aya is the story of the smartest girl in the world.” He also cheekily added that he thinks the character resembles Goro Miyazaki.
If you aren’t familiar with the work of Studio Ghibli, here are a few must-see films you should watch before Aya to Majo arrives.
When Sophie, a young hat-maker runs into the legendary wizard Howl, she is soon cursed by an evil witch, who turns her into an old woman. With her altered appearance, Sophie is eventually led to Howl’s moving castle, where she learns more about the wizard and gets caught up in his world.
10-year-old Chihiro and her family are moving to their new home, when her father decides to take a shortcut, which leads to an abandoned theme park. While exploring, they come across a seemingly empty restaurant stocked with dishes, and her parents decide to help themselves. A frustrated Chihiro explores the rest of the town and soon discovers that things are not what they seem.
Set in the Muromachi period, the young prince Ashitaka is cursed after defending his village from a demon. As he embarks on his journey to find a cure, he learns more and becomes involved in the struggle between the gods of the forest, and the humans who who rely on its resources.
Sosuke is a 5-year-old boy who lives in a small island town. One day, he rescues a goldfish and names her Ponyo, promising to protect her. We follow the two as their bond develops, along with Ponyo’s growing wish to become a human girl.
When Marnie Was There (2014)
When Anna’s foster parents send her to live in a rural, seaside town for the summer, she comes across an abandoned mansion, where she meets Marnie, a mysterious young girl who makes Anna promise to keep their friendship a secret. As the days pass, their friendship grows and Anna eventually learns the truth about her family.