Aya and the Witch: a first 3D film that fits perfectly into the Ghibli universe

REVIEW / FILM OPINION: For his third feature film, Goro Miyazaki, the son of the inimitable Hayao Miyazaki, decides to sign the very first Ghibli studio film in computer graphics. While the studio is used to offering traditional animation, Goro decided to offer the audience “Aya and the Witch”, the first Ghibli studio film to be made in 3D. Adapted from the eponymous novel by Diana Wynne Jones, the feature film will be released this Thursday, November 18 on Netflix.

Aya and the Witch : the film is totally in the Ghibli universe

On paper, this idea was a little scary. Ghibli studios have always offered superb traditional entertainment, based on the overriding artistic desire to do everything by hand! Hayao Miyazaki is renowned for taking considerable time to bring his works to life. His son therefore decided to row against the tide against the dominant of his team, and thus offer Aya and the Witch, the first animated film from Ghibli studios to be in 3D. And finally, the feature film is totally in the style, tone, and heritage of Ghibli Studios.

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Aya and the Witch © Studio Ghibli

Indeed, this unusual animation for the firm does not disturb the senses of the spectators that much. A not necessarily ugly animation that manages to find its own grace. Even if she obviously remains less attractive than that, very meticulous, of Hayao Miyazaki, however, it does not clash, at least not completely, with the rest of Ghibli’s works. Indeed, Goro Miyazaki has managed to retain the identity of the studio. Whether through the story, the tone, the dialogues, the rhythm, and paradoxically, even the animation (especially in his imagination, in his representation of the characters, the sets, in his play of colors), the story fits completely into the great Ghibli family.

A fascinating story

It must be said that Goro Miyazaki chose a subject that lends itself perfectly to the exercise. The story offers a deliberately mysterious plot, which speaks (once again) of witches, magic, demons. The themes are perfectly anchored in the heritage of his studio. The work offers an endearing story, that of a little girl who is looking for her identity. This will cross the road of a wonderful and sometimes disturbing world, which owes a lot to its protagonists. Goro Miyazaki was particularly based about the work of Diana Wynne Jones, who wrote the novel that inspired the film. Here are the words of the director, taken from the film’s press kit:

I guess Diana Wynne Jones drew her inspiration from carefully observing her loved ones and those around her. This is surely how she manages to create very real, almost familiar characters, such as everyone can find around him, without ever falling into stereotypes. In other words, his characters are not those of a work of fantasy but they are strong characters who could really exist in everyday life. That’s what I like about his job.

Aya and the Witch
Aya and the Witch © Studio Ghibli

Thereby, Aya and the Witch is overall a success, especially through its impressive characters. Mention special to the demon Mandrake, ultra charismatic, which will make children and adults dream. Overall, without being Studio Ghibli’s best proposition, Aya and the Witch is a deeply endearing work, which completely fulfills its specifications, offering itself a unique and personal identity, while not disrespecting the universe of Ghibli studios.

Aya and the Witch de Goro Miyazaki available on Netflix from November 18, 2021. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.

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