Famous for its detailed 2D animations to tell fantastic stories of childhood and maturation in Japanese society, Ghibli Studios have become a cultural phenomenon in the East and have captured the hearts of fans all over the world. Founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Toshio Suzuki and Yasuyoshi Tokuma, the studio was quick to enchant the world and the following year launched The Castle in Heaven, a film which won great reviews and excellent box office. However, it was in 1988 that the West opened its eyes to these Japanese productions. In 1988, going against all the rules of the market, Ghibli released two films simultaneously. And the two not only became big hits, but also entered the hall of immortal movie classics: the depressing Tomb of the Fireflies and the very cute Meu Amigo Totoro. From then on, the studio established itself as one of the most important animation producers on the planet and racked up records and more records, such as having five Oscar nominated films and winning an Oscar for best animation. with Chihiro’s Travel (2001), making its the only non-English language animation to have won in this category.
And although its animation style is anchored in the world of cinemas, Ghibli Studios is preparing a major change for 2021, with the launch of the first animation made with 3D technology of computer graphics: Aya and the witch. In this year’s Oscar race, the feature was released in Japan at the end of 2020 and has been on US HBO MAX since early February. In the plot, we follow the story of an orphan adopted by a witch who takes her to a haunted house, where she will learn witchcraft, since the biological parents of the girl had magical powers. At first, the script doesn’t seem as creative as the studio classics and still poses the issue of the difference in animation style, now more akin to work done by Pixar, DreamWorks and others. As a result, mainstream fans squeaked a lot when they watched the trailer, mostly criticizing the use of 3D instead of traditional 2D anime. But in fact, the film follows the same recipe as The Animated Castle, which also adapted a story by author Diana Wynne Jones. The masterpiece of the time is the book Tesourinha ea Bruxa.
Disclosure / Ghibli Studios.
Directed by Gorō Miyazaki, son of the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, the film is an adventure about courage, maturity and music. According to the director: “In our country, the number of adults is increasing and the number of children is decreasing. The little ones are being ignored for the benefit of the adult audience, so it’s hard times for kids now. It was during this reflection that I encountered the work that inspired Aya [ e a Bruxa]. So I thought, “This is what we need!” With this responsibility to promote a cinema intended for children, really left aside by the last Japanese productions, the Ghibli is betting on a more popular style of animation, which is precisely 3D. And it’s interesting how much Western influences really exist, but without giving up the Japanese aura at any point. It is possible to perceive that this is a Ghibli Studios film, even with an infographic taking over the 2D space, the classic characteristics of the characters have been retained.
Disclosure / Ghibli Studios.
Perhaps the biggest Western benchmark for influencing Aya and the Witch is the classic of Laika, Coraline, and the Secret World. Not only to bring this story to supernatural tunes intended for children and teenagers, but also to use dolls to have a reference of the movements of the characters, as we can see in the video below.
Simply put, despite the initial prejudices towards this sweeping change, Aya and the Witch is a very carefully crafted production involving some of the studio’s biggest names and looking to save the childish love for Japanese animated films. On top of all of this good intention, the film is on this year’s Oscar nominee list, which recognizes the quality of the story and the new technology being applied to the film. Unfortunately, we still don’t have a release date for Aya and the Witch in Brazil. There are rumors that you might be able to get there by the end of the year. However, Brazilian fans are very loyal and have a more than special affection for Ghibli Studios. In other words, domestic distributors are missing out on a great product launch here in the country, which sure would respond well to the film if it made its streaming debut ASAP.
Check out the trailer:
Aya and the Witch is not expected to debut in Brazil.
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