Earwig and the Witch Review

Vayda Pascarella '22, Staff Writer

Many animation studios have left their marks on the world, and Studio Ghibli is no exception. The beloved Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli, has become renowned not only for its incredible 2-D films, but also for its adherence to the medium of 2-D animation. However, Studio Ghibli’s most recent film, Earwig and the Witch, has decided to break the tradition of 2-D films, becoming Studio Ghibli’s very first 3-D animated film.  Earwig and the Witch is based on Diana Wynne Jones’s children’s book by the same name, which the film shares in common with Howl’s Moving Castle, another beloved Studio Ghibli film based on a children’s book by the very same author. Earwig and the Witch follows the story of Earwig, known as Erica Wig, an orphan girl who finds herself taken in by a witch to help around the house. However, she proves herself to be a rather troublesome character, causing mischief and slacking off on her duties even after being told that her actions would have consequences., The movie is very much a slice of life, with a magical twist. However, after all of this, the movie has faced some controversy amongst Studio Ghibli fans. Many did not like the 3-D animation, and felt the ending was too open-ended and unsatisfying. Some other complaints were that the movie had too little plot, and the film should have been split into two separate films. With that being said, some did enjoy these elements, and didn’t think the movie was as bad as some people said. However, was this movie a memorable masterpiece or a forgettable film? 

In my best attempt to be fair, I decided to not only go in completely blind, but I will also be starting with the aspects about the movie that I liked. I am also going to maintain being spoiler-free, in case those reading this review want to see the film for themselves. Although some people did not like the animation style, I actually enjoyed it. The characters and backgrounds looked extremely detailed, and managed to maintain Studio Ghibli’s signature charm. I especially loved the way the backgrounds were created, because they looked so lifelike and detailed. I thought they were made out of clay. The character designs were rather appealing to me, and I found many of them engaging. The music that the film used was incredibly nostalgic, and reminded me of Howl’s Moving Castle, which is my favorite Ghibli movie to date. I loved the characters of Thomas and the Mandrake because they were both rather endearing. Another controversial thing about the film that I loved was the way that it ended. The ending was a cliffhanger, which I thought left it up for interpretation, and I enjoyed that aspect. However, that’s essentially where my positivity towards the film ends. Even though I enjoyed the character designs and some of the movie’s characters, I absolutely despised Erica Wig, the main character. Erica Wig was extremely infuriating to me because she essentially got whatever she wanted, and didn’t grow as a person. Erica Wig was extremely manipulative to the people around her, and ended up causing the people in the house a lot of problems. Even though I liked the ending’s open nature, I didn’t like one specific aspect: Erica got what she wanted and didn’t really face consequences for her actions. When I was talking about the film with my little brother, who is in the target demographic and has seen Ghibli films before, he told me that he did not like the way the movie ended either. Another aspect of the film I didn’t care for was the pacing. To me, the pacing felt rather slow and not engaging at times. I also agree with some of the criticism regarding the film itself, especially the critique that the film should have been split up in two in order to explore more of the movie’s world. Studio Ghibli films are known for their incredible world building, and it felt like a lot of the film’s world building aspects that I thought were going to be explored were slighted. However, I suppose that might have been the point. Since the film is a slice of life that centers around the characters, it makes sense that they wouldn’t explore some of the world’s aspects. Although that might have been the point, I didn’t particularly care for it. All in all, I think this film had both good and bad elements, like any story, but for me the cons slightly outweighed the pros.