Studio Ghibli’s latest feature animation, “Aya to Majo,” (literally, “Aya and the Witch”), will air on NHK during winter 2020, NHK announced. Under the title “Earwig And The Witch,” the film was Wednesday also named as having been selected by the Cannes Festival this year.
Based on “Earwig and the Witch,” a children’s novel by Diana Wynne Jones, the film is the first by Ghibli to be animated in 3D3G. The director is Goro Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki’s son, though the elder Miyazaki is credited with planning the project.
The date of the broadcast and other details have yet to be revealed. The film is a co-production between Ghibli, NHK and NEP (NHK Enterprises). There are currently no plans to release the film theatrically in Japan, though France’s Wild Bunch has been appointed to handle international rights sales.
Wynne Jones also wrote the source novel for “Howl’s Moving Castle,” a 2004 animated scripted and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
In the Wynne Jones novel, Earwig is living in an orphanage – and quite enjoying it, when she is adopted by a witch and taken to her spooky house. But instead of being terrified the clever Earwig is determined to become the master of her new situation.
In the Ghibli version her name has been changed to Aya, but the studio has not revealed the extent of other story revisions.
In a statement Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki said he was worried as to whether “Aya to Majo” could hold up in the new post-corona environment. “I thought that a number of times while watching the rushes,” he said. “Then I realized that one stand-out feature of the film is Aya’s cleverness. And if you are clever you can survive in any period of history. Thinking that, I felt relieved.”
Among Goro’s credits are the Ghibli feature animations “Tales from Earthsea” and “From Up On Poppy Hill,” as well as “Ronja the Robber’s Daughter,” a CG anime series produced by Polygon Pictures in partnership with Ghibli.