'Earwig And The Witch' Trailer: See Studio Ghibli's First CG Animated Feature

It only took a bit of witchy, CGI magic to revive Studio Ghibli after the revered Japanese animation studio temporarily shuttered its doors in 2014 following the supposed retirement of anime titan Hayao Miyazaki. But it's Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki, who will direct the studio's first film in 7 years, and Studio Ghibli's first-ever fully CG-animated feature, Earwig and the Witch. Watch the Earwig and the Witch trailer below.

Earwig and the Witch

I was ready to take it easy on this movie. I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. But this first trailer for Earwig and the Witch doesn't give me much confidence in Ghibli's first foray into 3D animation. The first images from the film already clued us into the film's disappointing art style (it's like the filmmakers tried to translate Ghibli's signature hand-drawn animation style to 3D and it doesn't work), but I was willing to chalk it up to unfinished animation and rendering. But the trailer, which should be as close to the finished product as we'd get, looks like an un-rendered video game. The lighting is flat, the colors are stale, and the animation just looks bad.

I'm not anti-CG animation in particular, though I have a particular fondness for the hand-drawn animation that Studio Ghibli has helped turn into high art over the decades, and I'm even intrigued to see the studio (and especially Goro Miyazaki, who shows a lot of potential but can't seem to find his own style) experiment with their house style beyond Hayao Miyazaki's big, looming shadow. But after seeing what Marza Animation Planet and TMS Entertainment did with Lupin III: The First, and how director Takashi Yamazaki managed to capture the spirit of the 2D franchise in 3D animation, I feel like Ghibli could do so much better.

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 Japanese audiences get to see the film when it airs on NHK in winter 2020, and U.S. audiences soon to follow 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.

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