Studio Ghibli has released the trailer for its first fully computer-generated animated film Earwig and the Witch.
As reported by Ghibliotheque, the studio's first foray into CG animation will be premiering on Japanese broadcaster NHK on December 30th. The trailer is in Japanese but viewers can still get a sense of how the studio has tackled digital art.
Earwig and the Witch is based on a 2011 novel of the same name by English author Diana Wynne Jones, who had previously written the novels that inspired Howl's Moving Castle (2004). The animated film follows the adventures of an orphan named Earwig, who finds herself loving life at the St. Morwald’s Home for Children.
Here's the film's official synopsis:
"Not every orphan would love living at St. Morwald's Home for Children, but Earwig does. She gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants it, and it's been that way since she was dropped on the orphanage doorstep as a baby. But all that changes the day Bella Yaga and the Mandrake come to St. Morwald's, disguised as foster parents. Earwig is whisked off to their mysterious house full of invisible rooms, potions, and spell books, with magic around every corner. Most children would run in terror from a house like that . . . but not Earwig. Using her own cleverness—with a lot of help from a talking cat—she decides to show the witch who's boss."
The 82-minute feature is directed by Goro Miyazaki, son of Stuio Ghibli's co-founder and legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, who participated in the film’s planning and development. This is the third solo feature for the younger Miyazaki after Tales From Earthsea(2006) andFrom Up On Poppy Hill(2011).
Based on the previously released stills and the trailer, the film looks like it's taken a very different approach from the traditional hand-drawn animation style that Studio Ghibli is known for and loved. However, the upcoming film still manages to retain the spirit, sense of childlike wonder and magic as seen in the character designs and details.
Like many previous Ghibli films, the story features a feisty lead character, whimsical animals in the form of the black cat Thomas and creepy villains like Bella Yaga and Mandrake. The story also seems to have some dark Coraline undertones.
At this point, it's too early to tell if Earwig and the Witch is destined to be a classic on the same level as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke, but the trailer gives viewers a look at how the acclaimed Japanese studio can adopt CG for some of its future projects.
Earwig and the Witch is slated to be released in Japan on Dec. 30, 2020.
(Images via Studio Ghibli)