Earwig and the Witch

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Earwig and the Witch
Earwig and the Witch.png
Theatrical release poster with original planned theatrical release date
HepburnĀya to Majo
LiterallyĀya and the Witch
Directed byGorō Miyazaki
Screenplay byKeiko Niwa
Emi Gunji
Based onEarwig and the Witch
by Diana Wynne Jones
Produced byToshio Suzuki
Music bySatoshi Takebe
Distributed byNHK
Toho (theatrical)
Release date
  • December 30, 2020 (2020-12-30) (NHK General TV)[2]
  • August 27, 2021 (2021-08-27) (Theatrical)
Running time
82 minutes[3]
Box office$726,037[4][5]

Earwig and the Witch (Japanese: アーヤと魔女, Hepburn: Āya to Majo, lit. "Āya and the Witch") is a Japanese computer-animated fantasy film directed by Gorō Miyazaki, based on the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones. The original voice cast includes Shinobu Terajima, Etsushi Toyokawa, Gaku Hamada, and Kokoro Hirasawa.

A co-production between Studio Ghibli, NHK and NHK Enterprises, the film aired on television on December 30, 2020 on NHK General TV, and was released in theatres by Toho on August 27, 2021.


In 1990s England, a witch leaves her child, Earwig, at St. Morwald's Home for Children. The matron head of the home thinks that the name is unfit for a child and changes it to Erica Wigg. Years later, Earwig is a rambunctious 10-year-old who is very comfortable in an orphanage where everyone does what she wants. She likes living there with her friend Custard and doesn't want to get adopted.

One day, a strange couple, Bella Yaga and Mandrake, adopt Earwig against her wishes. When they get home, Bella Yaga tells Earwig that she is a witch, and that she only adopted Earwig for "an extra pair of hands" to help around the house. Earwig agrees to help, only if Bella Yaga teaches her magic in return. Earwig prepares ingredients for spells and cleans the workroom. Tired of working, she attempts to get out of the house, only to find that all the exits have been magically sealed by Mandrake. She becomes further frustrated because Bella Yaga never teaches her magic.

Earwig begins to listen to tapes from an old band called Earwig and discovers that Bella Yaga's cat familiar Thomas can talk. The two of them enter the workroom at night to create a spell that will make them resistant to magic, becoming immune to Bella Yaga's punishments. They also work on a spell to give Bella Yaga a literal "extra pair of hands" on her body so Earwig would be dismissed from her work.

The spell is a success and Bella Yaga is furious at her extra pair of hands, and casts magical worms that appear in Earwig's room. Because of Earwig's magical resistance, the worms are harmless; Earwig sends the worms through a hole in the wall, but that angers Mandrake. In the ensuing chaos, Earwig breaks into Mandrake's room and discovers he and Bella Yaga were members of the band.

Through her new power, Earwig is able to take over the house and have the others to do what she wants. She even manages to get her friend Custard to come over for Christmas. When he arrives, Earwig's mother, another member of the band, drops in for a surprise visit.


Japanese[1] English[6]
Earwig (Āya) Kokoro Hirasawa[7] Taylor Paige Henderson
Bella Yaga Shinobu Terajima Vanessa Marshall
Mandrake Etsushi Toyokawa Richard E. Grant
Thomas Gaku Hamada Dan Stevens
Earwig's Mother (Āya's Mother) Sherina Munaf[8][9] Kacey Musgraves
Mr. Jenkins Yuji Ueda JB Blanc
Matron Pandora Colin
Custard Logan Hannan
Phyllis Summer Jenkins
Sally Vivienne Rutherford
Assistant Matron Alex Cartañá
Cook Tom Bromhead
Assistant Cook Eva Kaminsky


Directed by Gorō Miyazaki, the film was announced as the first full 3D CG animated film by Studio Ghibli and was scheduled for a television premiere on NHK in late 2020.[10][11][12] On June 19, 2020, images from the film were revealed by Miyazaki.[13] Gorō said that his father told him to go with it and Toshio Suzuki encouraged him, but after that he was left on his own and made the anime with young staff and "didn't consult with the old guys at all". He also said that he is the only one at the studio who knows the method of creating CG animation.[3] Satoshi Takebe composed the music for the film. The theme song "Don't Disturb Me" and ending theme "Atashi no Sekai Seifuku" (あたしの世界征服) are performed by a team composed of Sherina Munaf on vocals, Hiroki Kamemoto of Glim Spanky on guitar, Kiyokazu Takano of Mrs. Green Apple on bass, Kavka Shishido on drums, and Takebe on keyboards.[14]


The film was scheduled to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival before the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[15] It instead premiered at the Lumière Film Festival in Lyon Metropolis, on October 18, 2020.[16]

In November 2020, the cast and crew information, along with its plot details and broadcast date were announced. It aired on NHK General TV on December 30, 2020.[13][17][18][1][2]

As with Ghibli's other features, Wild Bunch handles the international sales of the film.[19] On July 7, 2020, Studio Ghibli's North American distributor GKIDS announced they had acquired the North American distribution rights to the film and that the film would be set for a theatrical release date of early 2021 in North America.[20][21] On January 7, 2021, GKIDS announced that the movie would receive a limited theatrical release beginning on February 3, while it would be added to HBO Max on February 5.[22] The film was released digitally on March 23, 2021, and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 6, 2021.[23] The GKIDS release of the film is the same as the Japanese theatrical version.[24]

On September 11, 2020, Wild Bunch confirmed they had purchased the distribution rights to Studio Ghibli's films in France from previous distributor Disney,[25] and that they would handle distribution of the film both theatrically and on home media in the country.[26]

On December 3, 2020, the Elysian Film Group acquired the British and Irish distribution rights to the movie, becoming its very first film acquisition after founding in February that year. This will make it the first theatrical release of a Ghibli film since Princess Mononoke not to be distributed by StudioCanal UK in the region.[27]

On February 11, 2021, Toho announced that the film was slated to be released theatrically in Japan on April 29, 2021. This version includes some scenes not shown on the TV version.[28][29] On April 23, 2021, the film was removed from the release calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[30] It was later announced that the new release date would be on August 27, 2021.[31]


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 30% of 63 critic reviews are positive for Earwig and the Witch, and the average rating is 4.90/10. The critics consensus on the website is: "With a story as uninspired as its animation, Earwig and the Witch is a surprising—and near-total—misfire for Studio Ghibli."[32] According to Metacritic, which calculated a weighted average score of 45 out of 100 based on 20 reviews, the film received "mixed or average reviews".[33]

Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich gave the film a C− and said, "While Earwig and the Witch is far from the ugliest film of its kind, there's something uniquely perverse about seeing Ghibli's signature aesthetic suffocated inside a plastic coffin and sapped of its brilliant soul; about seeing the studio's lush green worlds replaced by lifeless backdrops, and its hyper-expressive character designs swapped out for cheap dolls so devoid of human emotion that even the little kids look Botoxed with an inch [sic] of their lives. This is the cartoon equivalent of that botched Jesus fresco, only lacking the human touch that gave that debacle some perverse charm of its own."[34]

Vox's Aja Romano gave the film 3 out of 5 stars and said, "There are some moments early on when there are still shots of nature, or slow Ghibli-esque pans across landscapes. But these isolated shots don't connect to a larger overall mood, characterization, or thematic idea. They feel like pale imitations from a director who knows what Ghibli films do, but not why ... And even the highly striking animation aesthetic for which Ghibli is renowned feels largely absent, due to the muted, flat palette of the film’s CGI ... Ultimately, Earwig and the Witch is a far cry from Studio Ghibli at its finest."[35]

As of August 2021, Earwig and the Witch grossed $173,704 at the North American box office and $552,333 from other territories, with a worldwide total of $726,037.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "「アーヤと魔女」総合12/30放送決定!注目のキャストも大発表 | NHKアニメワールド". www6.nhk.or.jp.
  2. ^ a b Steen, Emma. "NHK has announced the premiere date for Studio Ghibli's new anime 'Aya and the Witch'". Time Out Tokyo.
  3. ^ a b Morrissy, Kim (July 29, 2020). "Goro Miyazaki Says He's Confident in Upcoming Earwig and the Witch CG Film". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Earwig and the Witch (2021)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  5. ^ "Earwig and the Witch Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  6. ^ Sherman, Jennifer (December 15, 2020). "GKIDS Announces Dub Cast for Ghibli's 1st CG Feature Earwig and the Witch". Anime News Network. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  7. ^ "平澤 宏々路 | アーティスト | 研音 - KEN ON". www.ken-on.co.jp.
  8. ^ "スタジオジブリ最新作「アーヤと魔女」の英語版吹替キャストが決定 ダン・スティーヴンスら". cinemacafe.net.
  9. ^ アーヤと魔女 - 徳間書店 – via www.tokuma.jp.
  10. ^ "Ghibli, Goro Miyazaki Make CG Anime of Earwig and the Witch Novel by Howl's Moving Castle's Diana Wynne Jones". Anime News Network. June 3, 2020. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  11. ^ Baseel, Casey (June 5, 2020). "New Studio Ghibli anime coming this winter is first CG feature planned by Hayao Miyazaki". Japan Today. Archived from the original on June 7, 2020. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  12. ^ "Studio Ghibli's CG-animated film revealed: 'Aya and the Witch'". EW.com. Archived from the original on 2020-06-18. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  13. ^ a b Goodfellow, Melanie (2020-06-19). "First Look: Gorô Miyazaki's 'Earwig And The Witch' (exclusive)". Screen. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  14. ^ "「アーヤと魔女」サントラ発売決定、CDには宮崎吾朗の手描きアナザージャケット封入". Natalie (in Japanese). December 22, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  15. ^ Enis, Eli (9 June 2020). "Studio Ghibli announces new film Aya and the Witch". Consequence of Sound. Archived from the original on 15 June 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Aya et la sorcière – Manifestations" (in French). Lumière Film Festival. Retrieved January 13, 2021. ACHAT di 18 10h30
  17. ^ "Ghibli's 1st CG Feature Earwig and the Witch Briefly Listed Cast, Staff, December 30 Debut (Updated)". Anime News Network. November 11, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  18. ^ Takai, Shinichi. "スタジオジブリ最新作「アーヤと魔女」 の放送が12月30日(水)に決定しました - スタジオジブリ|STUDIO GHIBLI". www.ghibli.jp.
  19. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2020-06-10). "Wild Bunch & Commerzbank Agree 35M Euro Credit Line". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  20. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (July 7, 2020). "GKIDS Acquires North American Distribution Rights to Studio Ghibli's 'Earwig and the Witch'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  21. ^ Ramos, Dino (July 7, 2020). "GKIDS Acquires Studio Ghibli's Goro Miyazaki-Directed 'Earwig And the Witch'". Deadline. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  22. ^ "'Earwig and the Witch' Gets Theatrical, HBO Max Release Dates". The Hollywood Reporter. January 7, 2021.
  23. ^ "GKIDS Releases Ghibli's 1st CG Feature Earwig and the Witch on BD on April 6, Digitally on March 23". Anime News Network.
  24. ^ "GKIDS' Earwig and the Witch Release is Same as Version in Japanese Theaters".
  25. ^ "Wild Bunch on Twitter". 2020-09-11. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  26. ^ Lachasse, Jérôme (September 9, 2020). ""AYA ET LA SORCIÈRE", LE NOUVEAU FILM DU STUDIO GHIBLI, VA SORTIR AU CINÉMA EN FRANCE EN 2021 (in French)". BFM TV. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  27. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (December 3, 2020). "UK Firm Elysian Film Group Makes Studio Ghibli Pic 'Earwig And The Witch' Its First Acquisition; Nick McKay Appointed Head Of Distribution".
  28. ^ Toho [@toho_movie] (February 11, 2021). 昨年末、NHKで放映、海外でも劇場公開され話題の『アーヤと魔女』が、4/29 (木•祝)に、全国の映画館で上映されることになりました。 一部追加カットを加え、映像と音響を劇場クオリティで制作したアーヤを、ぜひ映画館のスクリーンでご覧ください。 [At the end of last year, "Aya and the Witch," which was aired on NHK and released in theaters overseas, will be screened at movie theaters nationwide on Thursday, April 29th. Please take a look at the movie theater screen to see Aya, who created the video and audio in theater quality with some additional cuts.] (Tweet) (in Japanese). Retrieved February 11, 2021 – via Twitter.
  29. ^ Pineda, Rafael Antonio (February 11, 2021). "Earwig and the Witch Gets Theatrical Screenings With New Footage, Dolby Cinema in Japan on April 29". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  30. ^ "Ghibli's Earwig and the Witch CG Feature Delays Theatrical Release in Japan Due to COVID-19".
  31. ^ Pineda, Rafael Antonio (June 17, 2021). "Earwig and the Witch Film Rescheduled for August 27 in Japanese Theaters After COVID-19 Delay". Anime News Network. Retrieved June 17, 2021.
  32. ^ "Earwig and the Witch (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  33. ^ "Earwig and the Witch Reviews". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  34. ^ "'Earwig and the Witch' Review: Studio Ghibli's First Computer-Generated Feature Is an Unholy Eyesore". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. 5 February 2021. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  35. ^ "Earwig and the Witch is Studio Ghibli's first 3D animated film. It's disappointingly subpar". Vox. Vox Media. 3 February 2021. Retrieved June 2, 2021.

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