Studio Ghibli has announced its long-awaited next film, Aya and the Witch. It’s the first feature-length project from the beloved Japanese studio that’s fully 3D CG-animated.
Aya and Witch was overseen by Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki, while his son Goro Miyazaki served as director. Its script is based on the 2011 children’s book Earwig And the Witch from Diana Wynne Jones; the same author penned Howl’s Moving Castle, which Miyazaki turned into a Studio Ghibli fantasy film in 2004.
Earwig and the Witch follows the story of a brilliant orphan girl named Earwig who gets adopted by an evil witch named Bella Yaga. Earwig must use her smarts, magical prowess, and help from a friendly talking cat to escape from Bella Yaga’s haunted house.
In a statement translated by EW, Ghibli co-founder and producer Toshio Suzuki talked about Aya, the film character inspired by Earwig,
“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.”
Aya and the Witch was originally slated to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival before the event was canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, the new film will make its debut this coming winter via Japan’s NHK general TV under the name Aya to Majo. There is no confirmed release date for the US, but given that HBO Max recently loaded 21 of Studio Ghibli’s 22 films onto their new streaming platform, it’s likely that the movie will be available on that service at some point down the line.
While you’re waiting, check out our recent ranking of every Studio Ghibli film from worst to best to make sure you’re all caught up. If you don’t have access to HBO Max, all of the films were finally made available for digital purchase late last year, so there are ample opportunities to revisit the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and many others.