When Studio Ghibli announced its first film in six years a few weeks back, fans were shocked to hear that it would be made entirely using CGI. This marked a huge departure for a studio that was, until now, renowned for its hand-drawn aesthetics. We've now been given our first glimpse at the visuals (below) for 2020's Aya and the Witch – and fans aren't happy.
Directed by Goro Miyazaki, son of Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, the film is set to air on Japanese channel NHK this winter. It is based on children's book Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones, in which an orphan girl named Aya is adopted by a witch and taken to an unsettling new home. Check out our character design guide if you're inspired to dream up some creations of your own.
Aya and the Witch: first look
Studio Ghibli fans were quick to respond to the new shots, and it's fair to say they're not exactly thrilled. While some are unhappy with the quality of the graphics, most have taken issue with the very fact that the studio appears to be abandoning its signature illustrative style:
pic.twitter.com/QHscZM7aPTJune 19, 2020
WTF Ghibli pulling a Pixar?? And what's with this low quality CG?? I hope it's just pre-production viz. Because it feels like PS2 graphics.June 19, 2020
Doesn't look or feel like Ghibli at all, which sucksBut I get why they did this. They can't make 2D movies like they did in the 80s foreverLet's just hope they find a way to give this style the charm of other Ghibli moviesJune 19, 2020
Full CGI animated Ghibli? 2020 just won’t stop 😔June 19, 2020
While we wonder if any quality of CGI would have been enough to placate fans of Studio Ghibli's traditional style, we can't help but wish for something a little more impressive from these first shots – if only to justify the change. While the character models are polished enough, they don't scream Ghibli to us – we'd believe you, however, if you told us these were the work of Pixar or Dreamworks studios.
Perhaps there'll be a touch more wow-factor to the visuals in motion, and, who knows, if the screenplay, direction and everything else comes together, perhaps Aya and the Witch could turn out to be another winner from Studio Ghibli.
Fans needn't worry too much – the studio isn't abandoning its roots completely. 2023's How Do You Live? will be directed by Hayao Miyazaki himself and feature hand-drawn animations. And with the entire Studio Ghibli catalogue now available to watch on Netflix, there's no shortage of classic Ghibli on offer if this newfangled CGI business isn't up your street.