One of the biggest selling points for HBO Max is that it offers exclusive access to every film from Studio Ghibli, the legendary Japanese filmmakers behind My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away—and that includes a brand new one dropping in February, Earwig and the Witch (Feb. 12).
This film is a big deal for Studio Ghibli for a few reasons. It’s their first feature since 2014's When Marnie Was There; the company even shut down for a little while in the interim, before co-founder Hayao Miyazaki decided to come out of retirement to make one last film. Earwig isn’t that, though—this one is actually directed by Miyazaki’s son, Goro, who previously took the reins for Tales from Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill. It’s based on a book by the late British author Diana Wynne Jones, who also provided the source material for the elder Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, and it marks the studio’s first foray into Pixar-style, fully computer-generated animation.
As a long-time Studio Ghibli obsessee, I admit I was a bit alarmed at the first still frames of the CGI protagonist, a young girl who, like many a fantasy orphan before her, discovers she has a magical destiny; the house style didn’t immediately seem to translate to three dimensions. Happily, the full trailer looks more promising, if still a little weird: