earwig and the witch review

There’s been a lot of trepidation heading into Studio Ghibli’s Earwig and the Witch. It is the studio’s first foray into CG animation, a technology it had used sparingly for high-octane action sequences in Spirited Away and Princess Miyazaki or for the clattering steampunk castle of Howl’s Moving Castle, but never to this extent and never for a feature film. And that trepidation only grew with subsequent trailers for Earwig and the Witch showing the film’s oddly stiff character animation and flat, untextured surfaces. It looked like an unfinished 3D-animated imitation of Ghibli’s classic warm, genial art style — a style that has mostly been instructed by the animation style of Hayao Miyazaki — but missing the soulfulness that typically characterizes the studio’s films.

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goro miyazaki interview

When Goro Miyazaki returned to Studio Ghibli in 2015, he found the offices to be completely empty.

“Nobody was here and it was like storage, very empty,” Miyazaki recalled in an interview with /Film over Zoom ahead of the release of his upcoming movie Earwig and the Witch. “And I thought, ‘Okay, so I won’t be making films anymore.'”

But it would be just three years later that Miyazaki would get back in the director’s chair once again, for a kind of film that had never been done at Studio Ghibli before: a CG-animated movie. Earwig and the Witch was always conceived as a computer-animated film, but the Japanese anime industry more often uses that tech as a tool to imitate a cel-shaded/ hand-drawn look, as Miyazaki had recently done in the CG-animated TV series Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter. But something about doing a fully CG-animated film appealed to Miyazaki because “here at Studio Ghibli, doing a cel look, emulating hand-drawn animation at a studio that specializes in hand-drawn animation didn’t really make sense.”

And it was Miyazaki’s father, the legendary Ghibli filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, who actually encouraged him to pursue the film with this approach.

“It was actually recommended, or suggested, by Hayao Miyazaki and [longtime Studio Ghibli producer] Toshio Suzuki that I would do a film adaptation of this story,” Miyazaki said.

Read our full interview with Goro Miyazaki on Earwig and the Witch below.

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aya and the witch images

Studio Ghibli‘s first CG-animated movie is coming to theaters and HBO Max this February. GKIDS, the North American distributor for Ghibli, has set the theatrical release for Earwig and the Witch for February 3 in select theaters nationwide, with an HBO Max streaming debut set to follow just a few days later.

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earwig and the witch trailer

The first-ever CG animated film from Studio Ghibli is getting a lot of press for the anime studio – beloved for 2D classics like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro – as they enter the unknown territory of 3D animation. And U.S. distributor GKIDS is pulling out all the stops for Earwig and the Witch, directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro Miyazaki, by recruiting a star-studded English voice cast which includes Richard E. Grant and Kacey Musgraves. Watch the new English dub Earwig and the Witch trailer below.

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earwig and the witch us release

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.

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earwig and the witch us release

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.

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Hayao Miyazaki short film

In January of 2019, we learned that legendary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and his filmmaker son, Goro Miyazaki, were working on new movies. The elder Miyazaki’s film still has years of work left before it will be completed, and the younger’s movie was previously shrouded in mystery. All we knew about it was that it would be a rare all-CG movie for the venerated Studio Ghibli, and that it was based on an English book about “a very wise girl.”

Today, more details came to light. Goro Miyazaki’s mysterious movie was announced as part of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival’s virtual lineup, and the title has been revealed: it’s called Aya to Majo, or Aya and the Witch, and it’s based on a book by the author of Howl’s Moving Castle, which Studio Ghibli adapted into a movie in 2004. Read More »