It's been a long six years since Studio Ghibli released its last movie (2014's When Marnie Was There, if you'd forgotten) but fans will be thrilled to hear that a new film is on its way, as soon as winter 2020. And it's an even bigger deal, because it will be the first Ghibli film to be created entirely using 3D-CG.
Aya and the Witch, which is set to air on Japanese channel NHK this winter, is based on children's book Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones. Ghibli fans may recognise Jones as the author of 'Howl's Moving Castle', Ghibli's 2004 smash hit animated film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. In the new production, it'll be his son, Goro Miyazaki, who is in the director's seat (though the elder Miyazaki is still credited as a planner).
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Until now, Studio Ghibli has been celebrated for its approach to creating almost entirely hand-drawn animated content, a rarity in the digital age. In fact, only about 10 per cent of its output has used CG technology – and usually has been to save time and money on particularly tricky parts of film. So that Aya and the Witch is an entirely 3D production is a real departure from the norm for Ghibli.
Though there may be some purists feeling disappointment over the leap into modernity, we can't wait to see how Ghibli puts its unique stamp and style onto 3D content. And those purists need not worry – the studio will return to its roots for 2023's How Do You Live?.
We're also pleased that coronavirus hasn't affected scheduling for Aya and the Witch, which, if true to the book, will be a fantastical adventure story that follows orphan Aya (Earwig) as she is adopted by a terrible witch. Featuring a talking cat and a spooky house with supernatural goings on, it's set to appeal to children and adults alike. This kind of magical adventure is what we all need right now.
If you can't wait for the winter for your Ghibli fix, don't forget that the entire Studio Ghibli catalogue is now available to watch on Netflix. It's certainly a good thing we have the time to devote to rewatching it all.