A few years after Hayao Miyazaki devastatingly announced his retirement from making Studio Ghibli films, he has re-emerged to direct a new Studio Ghibli film with his son, Goro Miyazaki, titled Ayo to Majo.
While Miyazaki has hauled himself out of retirement - causing a collective sigh of relief - to produce Ayo to Majo with his son, he is also working on another hand-drawn project on the side, How Do You Live?, and seemingly has been for the past 3 years, amounting to only 36 minutes of footage so far. In a statement on this project, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki told Entertainment Weekly "There are more drawings to draw than before. Back when we were making My Neighbor Totoro, we only had eight animators. Totoro we made in eight months. [For] the current film that Hayao Miyazaki is working on, we have 60 animators, but we are only able to come up with one minute of animation in a month. That means 12 months a year, you get 12 minutes worth of movie. Actually, we've been working on this film for three years, so that means we have 36 minutes completed so far. We're hoping it will finish in the next three years."
A New Direction
As far as we know, the new film Ayo to Majo (translating to Aya and the Witch in English) will be the first Studio Ghibli film to be produced in 3D CGI. Considering it's not been done for a Studio Ghibli film before, we're yet to predict how this will be received for die-hard fans. The good news is that Miyazaki Senior's plans to uphold the traditional drawing techniques that have made his work so successful in How Do You Live?, so we are met with the best of both worlds, in time.
Based on a novel by Diana Wynne Jones, who also wrote the book that Howl’s Moving Castle was adapted from, Ayo to Majo tells the story of Aya, an orphan who is adopted by a witch and taken to her new house to discover it's filled with magic. Essentially, an all-round sweet and wholesome time, perfect watching for rainy or sick days.
When is it coming out?
Ayo to Majo was supposed to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, but was held up when COVID-19 spread globally. As a counter solution, it’s said to be set for release in Japan later this year, before arriving in cinemas around the world a few months later. The release date of How Do You Live? has not yet been released.
Image credit: @ghibliuk