Aya and the Witch Aya and the Witch

The first images from Studio Ghibli’s forthcoming film Aya and the Witch, directed by Goro Miyazaki, have landed. They’re quite a departure from the house style.

The film follows Aya, a young girl who has grown up an orphan, unaware that she’s the daughter of a witch — and ends up being adopted by a witch, no less. It is the renowned Japanese studio’s first fully cg-animated feature. As Ghibli doesn’t have the in-house capacity to produce a cg feature, we’re curious to know which animation studio(s) it has partnered with on this project.

Goro Miyazaki has previously directed two features at the studio, Tales from Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill. He also helmed the series Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter, which was cg-animated by Polygon Pictures and co-produced by Ghibli. Whereas Ronja was cel-shaded, Aya apparently takes a more traditionally 3d approach to volume and shading, while retaining a cartoonish styling.

"Aya and the Witch" "Aya and the Witch"

The source material is Earwig and the Witch, a children’s novel by Diana Wynne Jones (whose novel Howl’s Moving Castle inspired the studio’s 2004 film of the same name). Goro’s father Hayao is credited for the movie’s “planning,” which suggest that he was pivotal in the narrative development, while longtime Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki is once again producing. NHK and NEP (NHK Enterprises) are co-producers.

Alongside the images, Goro has released a short statement outlining his intentions for the film, which we’ve translated below:

Today, in our country, only adults are abundant, and children are few and far between. It must be tough on our children to have to face all these adults in such small numbers. It was while thinking about this that I encountered Aya.

So I thought, “Ah — should I go for this?”

How does Aya deal with these bothersome adults? Please do watch Aya and the Witch to find out. I sincerely hope that our Aya, who we can’t help but adore, will bring encouragement to children and cheer to adults.

Aya and the Witch was recently selected as part of Cannes’s official lineup. It will be broadcast on Japanese tv in winter 2020. There are currently no plans to release the film theatrically in the country, and no distribution details for other territories have been announced.

See below for more images:

Aya and the Witch "Aya and the Witch" "Aya and the Witch" "Aya and the Witch" "Aya and the Witch"