Ghibli, Goro Miyazaki Make CG Anime of Earwig and the Witch Novel by Howl's Moving Castle's Diana Wynne Jones
posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Studio Ghibli announced on Wednesday that it is producing an anime movie adaptation of author Diana Wynne Jones' Earwig and the Witch (Āya to Majo) novel for a television premiere on the NHK General channel this winter. Hayao Miyazaki's son Goro Miyazaki is directing the movie as the studio's first full 3D CG feature, and the elder Miyazaki is credited for the movie's planning and development. Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki is producing.
Jones published the novel in 2011, and Publisher Harper Collins describes the story:
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.
Suzuki commented on the new movie by musing what the world will be like after the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He added that this is the biggest concern for people all over the world now, and that movies and television cannot avoid dealing with this. When he previewed the movie's early footage, he often wondered if Earwig and the Witch will hold up as a work after COVID-19. He realized that this story's strong point is Earwig's cleverness. He concluded that if we have cleverness, we can overcome any troubling times.
Suzuki noted that if Pippi Longstocking (a children's literary character whom Hayao Miyazaki wanted to animate) is the "strongest girl in the world," then Earwig is the cleverest girl in the world. He described Earwig as "cheeky, yet somehow cute." As an aside, he said that if he had to describe Earwig as resembling anyone, it would be director Goro Miyazaki himself. When Suzuki mentioned that to Goro Miyazaki, the director became suddenly self-conscious.
Jones' Howl's Moving Castle also inspired a 2004 anime film by Hayao Miyazaki, and the film earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.
Goro Miyazaki directed the Tales from Earthsea and From Up On Poppy Hill anime films at Studio Ghibli, and also directed the Ronja the Robber's Daughter CG anime series at Polygon Pictures, with assistance by Studio Ghibli.
Studio Ghibli previously reported on January 1 that it was continuing to work on two new films in 2020. Suzuki said in 2017 that Hayao Miyazaki's next film is a hand-drawn "action-adventure fantasy," and that Goro Miyazaki was producing a CG work.
Hayao Miyazaki's first CG-animated work was 2018's Ghibli Museum short "Boro the Caterpillar." He is directing his own new feature film Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka (How Do You Live?) Suzuki reported in May that that the staff has completed 36 minutes of the movie so far, and is hoping to finish it in the next three years.