Aya to majo Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

“Aya and the Witch” / Aya to majo

Genre cartoon
Directed by Goro Miyazaki
Cast: Kokoro Hirasawa (Aya), Haku Hamada (Thomas), Shinobu Terajima (Bella Yaga), Etsushi Toyekawa (Mandrake), Sherina Munaf (Mother) and others.
Pages NHK, NHK Enterprises, Studio Ghibli
Year of issue 2020 (in Ukraine 2021)
Site IMDb

The initiator and director of the project was Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki. He previously directed anime films (Tales from Earthsea, From Up on Poppy Hill) and one anime series (Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter).

At Studio Ghibli, no one but Goro Miyazaki is into 3D computer graphics. For this reason, the director is working with a young team that has nothing to do with the creation of the famous hand-drawn animated masterpieces. It would be more logical to release the cartoon “Aya and the Witch” under the name of another company – so as not to violate traditions and not provoke strong disappointment among the audience. True, in this case, they would not pay any attention to him.

Although Goro Miyazaki is trying to do something unique in his own way, he still turns to old motives. It turns out that the plot of the cartoon “Aya and the Witch” is based on the novel by British writer Diana Wynne Jones (she is also the author of Howl’s Moving Castle, based on which Hayao Miyazaki released the animation of the same name of incredible beauty – it, by the way, was nominated for an Oscar).


When we first see a girl named Aya, she is still just a baby. Her mother is a talented rock’n’roller who quarreled with the witches, so the woman has to disappear, leaving the child in an orphanage. Years pass, Aya grows up to be a mischievous and fearless fidget. She commands other children with might and main, inventing various adventures for herself. Aya doesn’t dream of being adopted at all, feeling happy where she is. However, the life of the heroine changes dramatically when a strange couple takes her from the shelter – a blue-haired, grumpy woman and a silent tall man, whose long ears are suspiciously similar to horns. So Aya is held hostage by a finicky witch who forces the girl to do dirty housework.

At the first acquaintance with the graphics of the cartoon, 3D characters cause a special rejection (most of all, the way their hair is depicted hurts the eye). Then, frankly, you get used to them, starting to notice other details of computer animation that even seem pretty. For example, the interior decoration of an orphanage or the furnishings of a witch’s dwelling, where there is a place not only for boilers, but also for a colorful porcelain service hanging on the kitchen wall. Also in the cartoon there is a scene where the characters walk along typical English streets with neat brick houses. Such nuances are given to the creators much better than character design.


It is noteworthy that all the positive elements of CGI animation are echoes of the famous works of Studio Ghibli (in addition to urban exteriors, the cartoon “Aya and the Witch” has a special emphasis on food, and the friendship of the main character is communication with a talking cat). Alas, Goro Miyazaki has yet to offer something new and truly interesting.

The events of the cartoon develop quite smoothly, without creating any tension and without prompting the audience to worry a little about the main character. It’s strange, given the circumstances in which she finds herself. It is also annoying that the characters who surround the girl are not given due attention, concentrating only on the bad. Therefore, the changes that happen to them at the end seem taken out of context – as if someone glued two cartoons into one, cutting out an important middle and leaving a huge hint of a sequel.

But if you are still determined to attend the session, be sure to wait for the final credits. They are just adorable! All because the information about the creators of the project was supplemented with illustrations created by hand. So, in these simple drawings there is literally everything – the characters of the heroes, funny moments and the plot continuation of the adventures of a mischievous girl who wished to study magic.

Pros: detailed details of interiors and exteriors; charming credits Cons: the plot that goes very smoothly, and then breaks off; repulsive CGI animation elements, such as character hair; lack of original ideas Conclusion:

unfortunately, “Aya and the Witch” violates the cartoon tradition of Ghibli, but at the same time cannot reach the level of decent computer animation with an original story.

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