When people think of Studio Ghibli, they think of a very specific visual style that conjures up images of fantastical creatures, nostalgic adventure, and childhood wonder. That visual style may or may not be present in the studio’s upcoming CGI film, Aya and the Witch, if the first images for the film are any indication.
Aya and the Witch is Studio Ghibli’s first completely CGI effort, and it looks it. The seven images, which were first revealed by Japanese site Comic Natalie (via Kotaku), display an animation style that definitely looks Ghibli-esque but also feels terribly generic. By contrast, Ni no Kuni, the PlayStation 3 RPG that the studio helped worked on, had 3D characters that felt much more like a Ghibli animation come to life. This animation style feels a bit out of place for the legendary animation studio.
What isn’t out of place is the film’s story, which is based on the book Earwig and the Witch. Like a lot of Ghibli fare, the film focuses on a young child, Aya, who is adopted by a witch named Bella Yaga and brought to her magical house. Aya befriends a magical cat who helps her live in the witch’s house. The images suggest there may be some sort of musical aspect to the film — along with a healthy dose of mom jeans.
Aya to Majo, as the film is known in Japan, is directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro Miyazaki, but Hayao has overseen its planning. For those looking for a more traditional Studio Ghibli film, Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie will be hand-drawn and is in the process of slowly being made right now. There are always the classics too.
Aya and the Witch will premiere in Japan on the TV network NHK. There are no plans for international distribution yet.