“Earwig and the Witch” review and the future of Studio Ghibli

Jack Harris ’22 reviews the new Studio Ghibli film “Earwig and the Witch” and gives his thoughts on where the studio goes from here.

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Studio Ghibli

Jack Harris ’22 discusses how Studio Ghibli’s latest film could mark its downfall.

I’m sure most of the people reading this review are knowledgeable of the multiverse theory (trust me I have a point). If we take the multiverse theory to be true, then there are universes in existence where extremely unlikely things happen and extremely unlikely decisions are made. I believe that we reside in the only universe in the entire multiverse where Studio Ghibli decided to make this film. So profoundly terrible, so unthinkably wrong is the existence of “Earwig and the Witch” that it leads me to believe that this film is so unlikely to exist that we are the only universe, in all of time, where this film exists.

We reside in the only universe in the entire multiverse where Studio Ghibli decided to make this film.”

— Jack Harris '22

I guess this makes this film somewhat special. In the same way that Ted Bundy or Ronald Reagan are special. Is being so unique and impossibly terrible something that warrants being considered special? Yes. This film is special, not because it marks the first time Ghibli has made a completely 3D animated film, but because it may mark the beginning of the end for the beloved Studio Ghibli.

While it could be valuable to dissect the issues with the plot, that is not where the true issues of this film lie. The plot can be summarized as witches doing mundane things for 90 minutes which has a terrible ending in which no characters experience growth. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss why this film just does not work on any level.

Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki, directed this film. Goro has previous director’s experience, and while some might commend him for attempting this new medium, one must be puzzled as to how anyone could commend this.

“Earwig and the Witch” has no vision. Each and every frame feels like no heart, love, or passion was put into it. Each of the characters, as well as the art style of the whole movie, looks like a 10% finished rendering model. It’s beyond depressing to see this kind of film from one of the greatest artistic studios of all time.

Every potential good or entertaining moment from the plot, which is very weak, is immediately ruined by the animation onscreen. It’s impossible to not think, “Wow this would look so much better hand-drawn,” every second of this abysmal film. You would have a better viewing experience watching this film using the anime filter on Snapchat.

Every frame feels like no heart, love, or passion was put into it.”

— Jack Harris '22

Surprisingly, there is one exceptionally well-animated aspect of this film. The food. Ghibli, as well as anime in general, are known for how delicious their animated food looks. Plain and simple, anime food looks better than regular food, even in this film. The issue is, the food is so significantly better than the rest of the film that it’s distracting and confusing as to why they spent so much time on one pointless aspect of the movie.

Unfortunately, there’s even more that sucks about this movie: the soundtrack. The soundtrack of this film consists entirely of watered-down rock music, all written originally for the movie. Goro Miyazaki wrote all of the lyrics himself, and unsurprisingly, they’re just as bad as the rest of the writing in this film.

For all the negative aspects of this movie, there’s one, much more troubling thing that’s yet to be explained. What does this film mean for Studio Ghibli? This is Ghibli’s first film in seven years. Hayao Miyazaki is only making one more film and after that where does Studio Ghibli go? Goro Miyazaki would seem to be the obvious choice for leading Ghibli in the future, but so far he hasn’t shown much potential for such a role. Studio Ghibli almost shut down last time Hayao attempted to retire. Is that to be the fate for the beloved animation studio? Only time will tell, but until then, their millions of fans can hold out hope that “Earwig and the Witch” is just an experiment gone horribly wrong.