Studio Ghibli has released the first trailer for its upcoming film, Earwig and the Witch. It comes six years after the studio’s last film When Marnie Was There.
Originally titled Aya and the Witch, the film tells the story of Earwig, an orphan girl growing up in 1990s England. She gets adopted by a strange couple, who turn out to be the evil witch Bella Yaga. Earwig must use her wits and smarts (and the help of a talking cat) to try to escape.
The film is an adaptation of the eponymous 2011 novel by Diana Wynne Jones. Another book by Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle, formed the basis of Studio Ghibli’s 2004 animated film of the same name.
The film’s director is Goro Miyazaki, the son of Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki (a producer on the film). Goro Miyazaki also directed the Studio Ghibli films Tales from Earthsea (2006) and From Up on Poppy Hill (2011).
The Japanese voice cast includes Shinobu Terajima, Etsushi Toyokawa, Gaku Hamada and Kokoro Hirasawa.
So far, the trailer has received mixed reactions primarily due to the film’s art style. Earwig and the Witch is the first Studio Ghibli film made entirely with 3D computer-generated animation. This is a departure from the traditional 2D hand-drawn style associated with the animation studio. Previous Studio Ghibli films utilised CGI in moderation for more complicated scenes. Princess Mononoke (1997), considered a classic by Ghibli fans, is approximately 10 per cent CGI.
The film was scheduled to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival. However, organisers cancelled the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earwig and the Witch will air on NHK (Japan’s public broadcaster) under the name Āya to Majo on 30th December 2020. Audiences can expect an English-dubbed North American theatrical release in early 2021.
Words by Gemma Laws.
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