Studio Ghibli's CG-Animated 'Earwig And The Witch' Finds A U.S. Home And A 2021 Release Date

Studio Ghibli's first CG-animated film has a new U.S. distributor, a release date, and a title for American audiences. Earwig and the Witch, titled in Japan as Aya and the Witch, has been acquired by U.S. anime distributor GKIDS, which has set the film's U.S. release date for 2021.

GKIDs announced that it has acquired the North American distribution rights for Earwig and the Witch, whose U.S. title appears to take from Diana Wynne Jones' 2011 children's novel that the film is adapting (Japanese audiences will get the previously reported Aya and the Witch). Directed by Goro Miyazaki, Earwig and the Witch is the much anticipated follow-up to the director's 2011 film From Up on Poppy Hill and the studio's first full-fledged foray into 3D animation after sticking strictly with 2D animation for 35 years. While the first images from the CG-animated film were a little disappointing (the art looks an awful lot like the filmmakers tried to translate Ghibli's signature hand-drawn animation style to 3D and it doesn't quite work), there's still a lot of excitement to be had over the first Studio Ghibli movie in seven years.

GKIDs has set the Earwig and the Witch release date for 2021, making it the first Ghibli feature film to be released in the U.S. since 2014's When Marnie Was There. There's nothing like a bit of witchy magic to revive the revered Japanese animation studio, which temporarily shuttered its doors in 2014 following the supposed retirement of anime legend Hayao Miyazaki. Though, ironically, it will be Miyazaki's son Goro Miyazaki whose film will bring the studio back to life, with Miyazaki set to follow with what is intended to be his last feature filmHow Do You Live?

Earwig and the Witch was initially set to premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it was part of the official selection, but that premiere was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But no pandemic can stop the film from making its way to the public, with Japanese audiences first set to is see the film when it airs on NHK in winter 2020, and U.S. audiences soon to follow in 2021.

"Nowadays, in our country, there are many adults and few children. It must be tough for these children, so few of them having to deal with so many adults," Goro Miyazaki said. "It was while I was thinking about this that I got to know Earwig. And I realized, 'That's it!' How does Earwig deal with the annoying adults? Please watch Earwig and The Witch to find out. She may be cheeky, but I sincerely hope that our adorable Earwig will encourage children and cheer up adults."

"A new Studio Ghibli film is always a cause for celebration for fans around the world," added GKIDS' President David Jesteadt. "We are excited to see Goro Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli working in a new animation style, and look forward to sharing the film with audiences early next year."

Here is the synopsis for Earwig and the Witch:

Growing up in an orphanage, Earwig has no idea that her mother had magical powers. Her life will take a new turn when a strange family takes her in, and she is forced to live with a selfish witch.

Aya and the Witch will be broadcast on Japan's NHK general TV in winter 2020. It will hit the U.S. sometime in 2021.