Studio Ghibli CGI Film Set to Come out Later This Year

Studio Ghibli to Release First-Ever Computer-Animated Film Later This Year

Here’s everything we know, so far!

Calling all Studio Ghibli fans: we’ve got great news! The well-loved Japanese animation powerhouse recently announced its first fully computer-animated film. This is definitely a huge change, as the studio has always been known for its traditional hand-drawn animation! This has always been part of the allure of its highly acclaimed films, really.

This new film, titled Aya and the Witch, will premiere on Japanese TV network NHK this winter. It will be animated entirely in 3D, unlike previous Studio Ghibli works! Apart from its digitally created (albeit 2D) movie, My Neighbors the Yamadas, computer-generated imagery (CGI) was rarely ever used. More often than not, the studio simply uses it as a ‘fallback’ whenever a scene is too difficult to achieve through traditional methods.

Why the full-on CGI anyway?

This colourful building houses the famed Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo. | Image credit: colorsofcrysta

A Studio Ghibli fun fact — at least for those who don’t know yet: all of its films before Princess Mononoke in 1997 were completely hand-drawn! But even after that, the studio made an effort to stick to traditional hand-drawn animation as often as possible. This you would clearly notice upon watching the succeeding films like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Wind Rises

However, after his temporary retirement back in 2013, co-founder Hayao Miyazaki developed a keen interest in 3D CGI! And although it will be his son, Gorō, directing this upcoming film, he will be credited as a planner. 

This dabbling of the elder Miyazaki probably played a role in the decision to forego hand-drawn methods (hopefully, only in the meantime). But in these trying times, this could also be a cost-saving measure. You see, Studio Ghibli has voiced concerns about how slow and costly traditional animation is compared to full-on computer animation. *Sigh!* 

Also read: How I Spent a Magical Day at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo

Something new, something borrowed

Studio Ghibli CGI

Image credit (L-R): HarperCollins; Studio Ghibli Inc.

We know this surprising change may be a disappointment to longtime fans. Nonetheless, Studio Ghibli is still staying true to some of its old tricks — i.e., magical tales as source materials. According to NHK, the upcoming film is an adaption of Earwig and the Witch, a 2011 children’s book by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s about an orphan girl who has to use her wits for survival, after she moves into the spooky home of the terrible witch who adopted her! 

Apart from changing the lead protagonist’s name, the studio has yet to share other story revisions. And in case the author’s name sounds familiar, that’s because Studio Ghibli has previously adapted another one of her works: Howl’s Moving Castle, which came out in 2004. 

More good news

Image credit: Studio Ghibli Inc.

As if news about an upcoming Studio Ghibli CGI film wasn’t exciting enough, there’s one more: Aya and the Witch has officially been selected by the Cannes Film Festival this year! Alongside it is three other animated films: Flee from Denmark, Josep from France, and Soul from the United States.

Meanwhile, French distribution company, Wild Bunch, will handle international rights sales. However, there are currently no plans to release the film theatrically in Japan. 

Also read: 10 Destinations in Asia That Were Inspired By Studio Ghibli Movies!

In the highly saturated animé industry, Studio Ghibli has always stood out for its impressively unique animation style, well-written stories, and interesting characters. Its films are in a league of their own, no doubt about that. 

That said, we’re rather confident that this first-ever Studio Ghibli CGI film will turn out just as great — if not more. Until then, we’ll be waiting. And maybe whipping up some delicious Ghibli-inspired dishes while binge-watching previous works, too! 

Facebook image (right) credit: 大臣官房人事課

About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.


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