Earwig and the Witch, Studio Ghibli's first CG-animated movie, disappointed many fans of the studio with some describing it as a charming but ultimately mediocre film. However, iconic animator and director Hayao Miyazaki appears to have a very different opinion, calling it "really something."
In a recent interview, Miyazaki discussed his feelings about Studio Ghibli's first exploration into non-hand-drawn animation. While he is credited with "planning" Earwig and the Witch, he ultimately did not direct the film. Instead, those responsibilities fell to his son Goro Miyazaki. "I hadn’t been thinking of Goro at all," Miyazaki explained. "If anything, I thought it would be kind of impossible for him. But despite my thoughts, Earwig turned out to be rather interesting. I think he used CG skillfully. It's really something. And I think they put together a good team."
The relationship between Hayao and Goro Miyazaki is often described as complicated, or even strained. The elder Miyazaki notably criticized his son's first film Tales from Earthsea, saying, "It's good that [Goro] made one movie. With that, he should stop." As such, it seems that his praise for Earwig and the Witch comes from a genuine appreciation for his son's efforts.
"It's interesting. Being able to say, simply, 'It's interesting,' really is a good thing. Not 'This part of it is interesting,' but just 'It's interesting.' I think it properly conveys the energy of the original work," Hayao Miyazai stated. "[Goro] hung on to his determination to make the movie, so it turned out really well. It really doesn't matter that he's my son, does it? It being CG, not drawn with pencils, set him free."
Hayao Miyazaki not only had praise for his son and the films' CG but also expressed a genuine fondness for the protagonist Earwig. "It would be great if I could express it in words, but it's its stout heart…Earwig has a strength that doesn't wave," he said. "She has a tough, long fight, but it's not like she’s screaming and shouting. She's flexible and tries all sorts of different methods…[but] there's humor too. Something about that, to me…it's so ironic, but also truly interesting."
He argued that modern audiences can learn a lot from Earwig, saying, "When faced with animosity, a lot of people emotionally collapse and shrink away. But Earwig doesn't lose her brightness. She's strong, but friendly. She finds a way to get through difficulties…Our world is hard to live in, but no matter how hard it gets, you find a crack, and you pry it open. You make friends, and you go on living."
"Isn't that what’s most missing these days?" he went on to ask. "That strength. We were all supposed to have that strength in difficult times. We were supposed to have different faces for different times, but it's like we lost that. Now the thinking is that having a bewildered or unfriendly look on your face is honest, and that being honest like that is good. But that just makes it harder to live."
Earwig and the Witch is based on the novel of the same name by author Diana Wynne Jones, who also wrote the Howl's Moving Castle novel. The film is available to stream on HBO Max.
Source: YouTube, via SoraNews24