Film and TV

‘Earwig and the Witch’: Studio Ghibli fans feel betrayed by jump to 3D CGI

The first trailer for the new Studio Ghibli movie Earwig and the Witch has dropped and fans aren’t happy about the transition to 3D.

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Gorō Miyazaki, Earwig and the Witch is set to be Studio Ghibli’s first full 3D CGI feature. The film is based off the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones and follows its eponymous orphan who is adopted by a witch in 1990s England.

The film was set to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival before the event was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It will instead be aired to television on 30 December 2020 by NHK (the Japanese equivalent of the ABC). A first look for Earwig and the Witch was given back in June this year.

studio ghibli first look aya and the witch 1
Image: Studio Ghibli

Following the trailer’s release, many fans took to social media to express their disappointment at the new animation style and look. One fan wrote:

“It looks like the kind of CG we saw out of Pixar or Dreamworks 15 years ago. Very flat, low rez textures. Limited facial animation. Even stuff that should be easily better in CG like the fire looked bad.”

In a comparison that has unfortunately been made, one user compared the animation from a multi-million dollar studio to whichever freelancer cooked up one of the internet’s greatest memes:

Of course, Studio Ghibli is known for its legendary filmography consisting of several of the greatest animated movies of all-time. Films like Spirited AwayMy Neighbour Totoro, and Princess Mononoke remain some of the most critically and commercially successful films in the animated space.

Gorō Miyazaki has stated that he was encouraged by his father to go through with the 3D CGI animation style, saying:

“I was the only one among the people at Ghibli who knows that method of creation… I made the anime with a young staff and didn’t consult with the old guys at all.”

Eventual comparisons were made to other 3D CGI movies, namely Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and especially Lupin III: The First, considering how well the latter transitioned from 2D presentation. For now, we will have to wait and see if Earwig and the Witch can live up to its lineage.