After Earwig, Is 3D Animation The Future For Ghibli Studios?

Earwig and the Witch, a computer-generated animation directed by Hayao Miyazaki's eldest son Goro Miyazaki and produced in cooperation with public broadcaster NHK.

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As Studio Ghibli’s first CG release “Earwig and the Witch” takes leave from the theatres, Mainichi sat with the film’s director, Goro Miyazaki in an interview to discuss the future plans of Studio Ghibli.

Earwig and the Witch, a computer-generated animation directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s eldest son Goro Miyazaki and produced in cooperation with public broadcaster NHK.

After reluctantly following his father into animation — Goro originally spent years working as a landscape designer — this is his third film, following Tales from Earthsea, a controversial adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic novels, and the charming period piece From Up on Poppy Hill.

Goro Miyazaki is aware that, Earwig and the Witch doesn’t look like a Studio Ghibli film.

It’s the famed studio’s first foray into CG animation, and it’s a big departure from lush, hand-drawn animation style that was donned in films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.

Its characters are like dolls, and they exist in images with a tangible depth. Goro first took on the challenge of 3D computer graphics (CG) animation for the 2014 to 2015 NHK anime TV series “Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter,” and his latest film continues this effort.

“With 3DCG, you try to handle the characters like dolls. But if you make it look too much like a doll animation, it strays from the hand-drawn anime style people are so familiar with. We were looking for the space between that,” Goro told the Mainichi Shimbun.

Director Miyazaki, also confessed Earwig’s design is unlike the children portrayed in other Ghibli films.

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He explained, the characters his father and his colleagues created come from the experiences of wars, who saw a radical change in values.

Their opposition to authority and violence began from a certain kind of resistance, and they came together to make something, to start building something new.

Whereas it was difficult to comprehend the revolutionary mindset and so Goro Miyazaki who was born amid the period of economic development found inspiration to make a character like Earwig.

The movie also didn’t have a satisfactory ending unlike other movies from Studio Ghibli which young Miyazaki answers as a realistic ending.

“There’s dubious stuff going on across the world, and there’s no rosy future waiting after an upheaval. And this state of affairs will probably continue”.

He continues, “If people rose up democratically against violence, would stable peace eventuate? It’s a very difficult situation.

I get the feeling that an ending with catharsis isn’t something you should portray without careful consideration. At the same time, we need some kind of fantasy to live mentally enriched. We realized the time has come to decide on where to put emphasis.”

About, CG being the central pillar at Studio Ghibli, Goro Miyazaki clarified that future movies not necessarily will have CG, however, he has found some things he wants to try.

GKIDS and Fathom Events began screening the film in 430 theaters in the United States on February 3. The film ranked at #11 in the United States in its opening weekend, earning US$99,941 for a total of US$132,768.

The theatrical screening of Aya and the Witch, and also promoted as Aya to Majo debuted at #8 in Japan on August 27th.

It dropped off the top 10 in its second weekend, but still earned 33,677,100 yen (about US$306,600) from Friday to Sunday, and has earned a cumulative total of 157,829,200 yen (about US$1.43 million).

Even though the story is compelling and focuses on most themes of Studio Ghibli, fans were iffy about the execution of CG after watching the first trailer.

I’m all for exploring different mediums, but this doesn’t quite live up to the standard of quality we’ve come to expect from ghibli. It looks great in a lot of ways, but it looks just so wrong in so many more. It looks like everything is made of plastic

— Mister Bun (@HerpDerpSmithee) December 2, 2020

I share the same sentiment as many others who’ve watched this movie: it was disappointing. But stay with me here, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching!
This movie is based off of an incomplete book that the author died before finishing. Why make a movie like that in the first place? I dunno… the film seems to remain around the same amount of incomplete as the source material, so there isn’t much of a plot or main conflict.


All backlashes apart, what is truly a significant moment is that Goro Miyazaki’s father, the great director Hayao Miyazaki praised his son’s work as the film’s director.

According to ANN, he said that because it was his duty to make feature films, he couldn’t make Earwig and the Witch himself. He left it to producer Toshio Suzuki to find a director, and Suzuki suggested Goro.

“I thought Goro wouldn’t measure up, but his fighting spirit exceeded my expectations, and I think the result was quite interesting,” he said. “I think his use of CG was good. It’s quite a feat.” He added that he thought that the film had gathered a rather strong staff.

Additionally, Twitter user Koharu-chan, who is believed to be Chainsaw Man manga author Tatsuki Fujimoto’s sister tweeted that she enjoyed the movie thoroughly and gave a shoutout!

Earwig and the Witch follows a young orphan named Earwig, who’s plucked away from the orphanage she loves and forced to live with a selfish witch, Bella Yaga. With the help of a talking cat, Earwig uses her wit to show the witch who‘s boss.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun

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