Hayao Miyazaki short film

In January of 2019, we learned that legendary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and his filmmaker son, Goro Miyazaki, were working on new movies. The elder Miyazaki’s film still has years of work left before it will be completed, and the younger’s movie was previously shrouded in mystery. All we knew about it was that it would be a rare all-CG movie for the venerated Studio Ghibli, and that it was based on an English book about “a very wise girl.”

Today, more details came to light. Goro Miyazaki’s mysterious movie was announced as part of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival’s virtual lineup, and the title has been revealed: it’s called Aya to Majo, or Aya and the Witch, and it’s based on a book by the author of Howl’s Moving Castle, which Studio Ghibli adapted into a movie in 2004.

Entertainment Weekly relayed the news about the new Studio Ghibli movie, which is based on Howl’s Moving Castle author Diana Wynne Jones‘ 2011 novel Earwig and the Witch. Here’s the book’s synopsis:

Not every orphan would love living at St. Morwald’s Home for Children, but Earwig does. She gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants it, and it’s been that way since she was dropped on the orphanage doorstep as a baby. But all that changes the day Bella Yaga and the Mandrake come to St. Morwald’s, disguised as foster parents. Earwig is whisked off to their mysterious house full of invisible rooms, potions, and spell books, with magic around every corner. Most children would run in terror from a house like that… but not Earwig. Using her own cleverness—with a lot of help from a talking cat—she decides to show the witch who’s boss.

Studio Ghibli adaptations aren’t exactly known for hewing super closely to the stories on which they’re based, so it seems like a fair bet that some of the specifics here will change. But in broad terms, this sounds like perfect Ghibli material. Naturally, the most fascinating thing about this is going to be seeing whether this fully CG Ghibli movie can capture the studio’s same sense of wonder and whimsy that its anime films did.

Note: In pieces at THR and Indiewire today, both outlets list this film’s title as Earwig and the Witch, so it’s possible that Aya will be used in Japan and Earwig will be used internationally. We’re trying to sort through the confusion, but there’s a chance you could see it referenced as either title moving forward.

Aya and the Witch will be broadcast on Japan’s NHK general TV in Winter 2020, but there’s no timeline for a U.S. release yet. For a streaming guide to the Studio Ghibli library, much of which is now available on HBO Max, click here.

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