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Studio Ghibli Challenge #23: Earwig and the Witch (2020) Anime Movie Review

Earwig and the Witch poster

As much as I want to praise this movie for being bold in trying and discovering new things, it was an absolute mess. The magnificent song choices and soundtrack are the only reasons I can think it is better than Tales From Earthsea.

Again another film directed by Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki.

The movie starts when an infant, Earwig, is left in an orphanage by a witch. The matron thinks the name doesn't fit the baby, so she names her Erica Wigg. A few years later, Earwig is now ten years old, and she becomes very comfortable and naughty but, at the same time, doesn't want to get adopted.

One day, a strange couple, Bella Yaga and Mandrake, adopted Earwig even though she didn't want to go. When they get home, Bella tells Earwig that she only adopted her to help with her tasks. She agrees on one condition she teaches her magic. Earwig cleans and prepares the ingredients that Bella needs for her magic spells. She got tired of doing routine work and wanted to leave, but all exits were blocked due to Mandrake's spells. She grows more impatient because Bella Yaga doesn't want to teach her magic.

Earwig discovered some tapes and listened to them. It was a recording from a band with the same name as her. She also befriends Tomas, Bella Yaga's cat. The two sneak out at night to learn how to become immune to Bella's magic spells and give her a literal extra pair of hands.

The spell is successful, and Bella Yaga is furious because she has extra hands. She casts a spell on them, but since they are immune, it has no effect. Earwig sends the worms she summons to Mandrake's room, which makes him furious. Earwig breaks into his room and discovers that Bella and Mandrake are part of the band she is listening to.

With her newly discovered magic spells, Earwig takes over the house and invites her friend from the orphanage for Christmas. The movie ends with Earwig's mother, another band member, visiting them.

Other than the killer soundtrack, one thing I am glad about this movie is that it is only 82 minutes long. If the film had gone on for 2 hours, I would have just slept for most of it. I mean, the story is just as meaningless as the title. There were some funny lines here and there, but overall it's just so dull.

I like that Studio Ghibli wants to try new things. Maybe they want to explore how to make 3D CGI Animation, but honestly, they should, for now, stick to their strong suits. They are really best when they animate lush green landscapes, a wide array of mountains, and creatures that only exist in your imagination. They should maintain the excellent worldbuilding they have established, similar to what they did with Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, for example.

The characters in this film are totally unlikeable. Of all the main characters Studio Ghibli has created, Earwig or Erica Wigg might have been the worst. The supporting cast as well didn't elevate the plot. To me, they are just nuisances you want to erase from the story.

I say that this film is very skippable. I wish in a parallel world, Studio Ghibli didn't create this absolute mess of a movie.

Earwig and the Witch deserves a very disappointing 1.5 out of 5 stars.

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