Meet Aya, an orphan girl who must outsmart the terrible witch who adopts her.

By Nick Romano
June 19, 2020 at 01:18 PM EDT
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Studio Ghibli

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  • Movie

Get ready to meet Aya.

Studio Ghibli revealed the first photos of its next film, Aya and the Witch, an entirely CG-animated fantasy adventure based on the Diana Wynne Jones children's book Earwig and the Witch. Japanese website Comic Natalie was the first to publish the images.

Aya to Majo, as it's titled in Japan, is done entirely in computer-generated animation and is directed by Gorō Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki. Gorō helmed previous Ghibli works Tales From Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill.

NHK, NEP, Studio Ghibli

In Jones' book, Aya is a young orphan girl who finds herself adopted by a terrible witch. With help from a talking cat, she must use her wits if she's going to survive her new house of supernatural scares. Miyazaki previously adapted Jones' novel Howl's Moving Castle into the 2004 fantasy film.

NHK, NEP, Studio Ghibli
NHK, NEP, Studio Ghibli
NHK, NEP, Studio Ghibli

"If Pippi Longstocking is the story of the world’s strongest girl, Aya is the story of the world’s smartest girl," Studio Ghibli producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki said in an earlier statement, translated by EW. "Aya is cheeky but somehow cute. I hope she is loved by many types of people."

Aya and the Witch was announced as a selection of the Cannes Film Festival and will premiere later this year in Japan through NHK Enterprises. Given that GKIDS has been the distributor of Ghibli works in North America for the past few years, it seems likely that they will do the same for Aya. A U.S. debut hasn't been announced yet.

NHK, NEP, Studio Ghibli

"After corona, how the world changes? That’s the biggest concern for many types of people now. Even the movie and television industry can’t avoid that," Suzuki said. "Can Aya and the Witch do well after corona? I thought about that many times when I was watching the early footage. Then I realized the big characteristic of the movie is Aya’s wisdom. If only we have wisdom, we can overcome anything in any era. When I thought about that, I was relieved."

NHK, NEP, Studio Ghibli

Ghibli is also in development on Miyazaki's hand-drawn animated movie How Do You Live?, which Suzuki hopes will be finished in the next three years.

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Studio Ghibli

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