I am going to do my best to stay professional with this article, but I won’t make any promises. As the title says above, Studio Ghibli is creating their first ever one hundred percent 3DCG movie. I have strong personal opinions about this, but we must discuss the facts. The movie is titled Earwig and the Witch or… I can’t seem to find the Japanese title. It is directed by Goro Miyazaki, son of Hayao Miyazaki, who was apparently “reluctant” to follow in his fathers footsteps. Although that does present a different concern of quality, it seems that he has taken a liking to this project. I will say that the “reluctant” quote will become relevant again later so keep it in mind.
The four main Japanese voice actors have been announced and are as follows:
Shinobu Terajima as Bella Yaga: I am unsure who this character is or her motivations but by the screenshot she does not look to be a driving force of good what with the smug face, pointed nose, and- I guess a mole? That’s not inherently a bad thing, it’s just nothing screams “stereotypical evil witch” than Pointy crooked nose with mole.
Etsushi Toyokawa as Mandrake: The man looks like satan. He’s got the glowing eyes and everything, as well as a highly angular face. The vascularity in his forehead is off the charts.
Gaku Hamada as Thomas: He’s a cat. I like cats. This is good.
Hirohiro Hirasawa as Earwig: Or Aya in the Japanese release.
Earwig is the title character and focus of the movie, an orphan who gets adopted by a coven of witches. Not a good coven of witches like the ones I have posters of. Evil witches. Well, non posterable evil witches. At least not in the way I want. Said witches are Bella Yaga (very similar to Baba Yaga, a personal favorite witch of mine) and Mandrake (wouldn’t he be a Wizard? Unless he really is Lucifer- oh my!)
The Movie is based off of the book of the same name. This is not the first book to movie adaptation Studio Ghibli has done, nor is it the first book adaptation Goro Miyazaki has done. The two are Howl’s Moving Castle and Tales From Earthsea respectively.
Here’s the part where I drop the pretenses. I didn’t like Tales From Earthsea and I’m not the only one. Hell, the writer of the original Tales From Earthsea book didn’t like it much because it deviated from the plot and went into a cartoonish depiction of good versus evil. I’m paraphrasing of course but the point is I love Studio Ghibli’s depiction of good and evil as shades of grey. Even in my favorite, Howl’s Moving Castle, which I consider to be the least morally grey of all the movies, there still is no real villain. The war that the plot hinges around is over a misunderstanding and both sides are at fault.
In addition there is the quote of Goro Miyazaki saying he “didn’t consult with the old guys at all” implying he didn’t really talk with the seniors at ghibli, and that’s fine, but the issue is that most of the iconic style of Studio Ghibli seems to rest with the “old guys”. Not only that but he was pretty much left to his own devices with this movie using a team of younger staff who have not been at Ghibli for long. Put that alongside the fact that I just don’t really like the aesthetic of the movie and I’m just left nervous and unsure.
What I’m trying to say is that myself and others have concerns about this movie, but I want to call back to that initial quote, the “reluctant” one. I realize I’ve been putting all my fears of this movie with one person. One person who didn’t even initially want to do this as a career. And that’s unfair to him. He seems genuinely excited about this movie, as does the whole VA cast I mentioned above. I’ve been unfair to this movie and it hasn’t even been released yet. I want to give Earwig and the Witch a chance, give Goro Miyazaki a chance. And even if it turns out not great, I can still respect the passion that was put into this.
Earwig and the Witch will air on NHK General on Wednesday, December 30th from 7:30 to 8:53. GKIDS will be releasing it in North America early 2021
Houston based Sequential Art student who is stuck in the past. Has a habit of going off topic. Loves Berserk, Video Games, and literally nothing else.