Highly rewarded as it may be, it takes a lot of patience to be a Studio Ghibli fan. Want to go to the Ghibi Land theme park? You’re going to have to wait until 2022. Want to watch Hayao Miyazaki’s upcoming "How Will You Live?" You’re going to have to wait until…well, until the infamously perfectionist director decides he’s ready to send it off to theaters.
But in a pleasant break from its norm, Studio Ghibli has just announced its latest project, and also casually let it be known that we’ll be able to watch it in just a matter of months.
Planned by Miyazaki himself, the feature-length anime (which is a separate production from "How Will You Live?") is an adaptation of "Earwig and the Witch," the last novel from British author Diana Wynne Jones. If that name sounds familiar to you despite not being well-versed in UK literature, it might be because she’s also the author of "Howl’s Moving Castle," which Miyazaki turned into an anime film in 2004.
"Earwig and the Witch" was published after Jones passed away in 2011, and Miyazaki was deeply impressed by the Japanese-language edition, which is sold in Japan by Tokuma Shoten, the publishing company Studio Ghibli has long had ties with. In praising the book, Miyazaki said: “It is such a wonderful book. It’s the last work by Diana Wynne Jones, and thanks to the drawings from (Japanese-edition illustrator) [Miho] Satake and the [Tokuma Shoten] editors, it’s become an unspeakably compelling work. I’ve read it cover-to-cover five times.”
But while this is Ghibli’s second time to be adapting a Jones novel, the project also represents new ground for the studio. Set to premiere this winter, the "Earwig and the Witch" anime will be Studio Ghibli’s first entirely 3D CG animated production. While Miyazaki is serving as planner, the duty of director goes to his son, Goro, mirroring the collaborative roles the father and son had for the production of Ghibli’s 2011 "From Up on Poppy Hill."
Studio Ghibli co-founder and producer extraordinaire Toshio Suzuki will produce the "Earwig and the Witch" anime. “What will the world be like after the coronavirus pandemic? That’s the big question for a lot of people.” mused Suzuki while speaking about the project. “Looking at our work [on the project] so far, I’ve realized that what makes this story stand out is Earwig’s cleverness and intelligence. As long as you have those, you can overcome anything, and that realization has been a source of relief for me…If Pippi Longstocking is the world’s strongest girl, then Earwig is the world’s smartest girl. By the way, Earwig is actually just like our director, Goro-kun, but he seemed embarrassed when I pointed that out to him.”
While Studio Ghibli anime tend to be the Japanese theatrical event of the year whenever they’re released, the feature-length "Earwig and the Witch" will instead air on Japanese public TV broadcaster NHK, which was also the home of the 1978 Hayao Miyazaki-directed "Conan, The Boy in Future" anime TV series. No air date has been announced, but with Japan’s winter TV season roughly corresponding to January-March, we’ll be seeing Studio Ghibli’s work on-screen in less than a year.
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