for fans of
Diana Wynne Jones

Aya and the Witch

Studio Ghibli have produced a new, cute look for the promotional material advertising the Japanese cinema launch of the anime film Earwig and the Witch/Aya and the Witch (Aya to majo). The film is due to be shown on 29th April 2021 in Japan (Covid permitting).

new trailer pic
still from the filmstill from the trailer
still from the film

The new catchphrase translates roughly to ‘Which part of me ISN’T good enough?’ This reflects Earwig’s struggle to get her way in an unfair world, and should resonate with both children and adults.

There’s a new promotional website that names Diana clearly as the author, with a trailer and a message from legendary Studio Ghibli film-maker Hayao Miyazaki, who is credited with planning the film.

the message image

A rough translation of his message is: “When I came across the book Earwig and the Witch, I thought it would be a great project. Earwig's ability to watch out for herself doesn't mean she's a cheat. It's something all of us used to have, but somehow lost. It's something we need now, to live in these times. I was wondering how we were going to do it with CGI, but when I saw the finished film, I had no complaints. The fact that it's CGI instead of pencil has set the film free. The film was fun to watch. We had a very good crew, and they did a good job of conveying the energy that the film has, and that made it fun. I really want to praise it outright. To be able to say it was simply fun, is a good thing.”.

The director, Hayao's son Goro Miyazaki, said: “Children have within them all the possibilities of the future. We want them to have self-respect, and to be able to live their lives in their own way. We wanted to make a film that would encourage them to be think and act creatively and jump over the wall.”

Aya and the Witch had its world premiere on 18th October 2020 under the Cannes 2020 Selection umbrella during the Festival Lumiere in Lyon, France. It was originally due to be launched at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, which was cancelled due to Covid-19. On 30th December 2020, it had its Japanese premiere on the tv channel NHK GTV channel. It was released in the USA on the streaming service HBO Max on 5th February 2021, and also in Australia and France in February. Several Asian countries will be releasing it soon after the Japanese cinema launch, including South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore/Malaysia, and Vietnam. It should be available on Netflix for many countries in the autumn of 2021.

The original trailer for the film (in Japanese) is available here, and there is also a short YouTube documentary (also in Japanese) about a puppet play, based on the film, which will be shown at the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo, Japan. The museum will also show an exhibition on the film. The film’s theme tune can now be streamed, and the soundtrack is available on a CD. There are also several tie-in books on the making of the film.

Poster advertising Aya and the Witch

This original poster advertising Aya and the Witch says “Nobody tells me how I live my life!” The credits read “Planning: Hayao Miyazaki, Director: Goro Miyazaki. Based on the work of Diana Wynne Jones. Voices by Shinobu Terashima, Etsushi Toyokawa, Gaku Hamada, Kokoro Hirasawa. Some other stills from the film are:

still from filmstill from filmstill from film

Studio Ghibli also produced 2004's Oscar-nominated anime film of Howl's Moving Castle, which was directed by Hayao Miyazaki. A fan of the Earwig story, Hayao Miyazaki wrote the script for Aya and the Witch.

The Japanese book edition of Earwig and the Witch quotes Hayao Miyazaki saying: 'WHAT A LOVELY BOOK. Satake-san's illustrations and the fine work of the editors have imbued this book, the last book from Diana Wynne Jones-san, with an indescribable charm. I READ THE BOOK ABOUT FIVE TIMES FROM COVER TO COVER.'

Aya and the Witch runs for 1 hour 22 minutes.

Images copyright © 2020 NHK, NEP, Studio Ghibli