Ghibli briefly listed the main cast, additional staff members, and December 30 television premiere of its first CG feature Earwig and the Witch, Goro Miyazaki's anime adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones' novel of the same name, on Wednesday.
The cast includes Shinobu Terajima (Caterpillar, Helter Skelter, Oh Lucy!), Etsushi Toyokawa (live-action 20th Century Boys, Her Granddaughter), Gaku Hamada (Miss Hokusai, One Piece Film Gold, live-action Space Brothers), and child actress Kokoro Hirasawa (live-action BLEACH).
Keiko Niwa (Ocean Waves, Tales from Earthsea, The Secret World of Arrietty, From Up On Poppy Hill, When Marnie Was There) and Emi Gunji (From Up On Poppy Hill assistant director) wrote the screenplay. Miho Satake (Moribito, Kiki's Delivery Service), the illustrator of the novel's Japanese edition, is credited with the original character and setting designs, and Katsuya Kondo (Kiki's Delivery Service, Ponyo, Ronja the Robber's Daughter, From Up On Poppy Hill) designed the characters for animation.
Yukinori Nakamura (Ghibli Museum's "Boro the Caterpillar", Expelled from Paradise) supervised the CG, and Tan Seri served as animation director. Yuhki Takeuchi handled the backgrounds. Satoshi Takebe (From Up On Poppy Hill, Ronja the Robber's Daughter) composed the music, Koji Kasamatsu directed the sound, and Eriko Kimura directed the dialogue recording. Kentarō Morishita produced the animation, and Isao Yoshikuni, Keisuke Tsuchihashi, and Koji Hoshino are production managers.
As previously announced, Goro Miyazaki is directing the anime as the studio's first full 3D CG feature, and his father and studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki is credited for the movie's planning and development. Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki is producing. French distributor Wild Bunch International is serving as the feature's international sales agent.
The 82-minute feature will air on the NHK General channel on Wednesday, December 30 from 7:30 to 8:53 p.m. The Cannes Film Festival chose the feature as part of its Official Selection this year. GKIDS will release the feature in theaters in North America in early 2021.
Jones published the novel in 2011, and publisher HarperCollins describes the story:Not every orphan would love living at St. Morwald's Home for Children, but Earwig does. She gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants it, and it's been that way since she was dropped on the orphanage doorstep as a baby. But all that changes the day Bella Yaga and the Mandrake come to St. Morwald's, disguised as foster parents. Earwig is whisked off to their mysterious house full of invisible rooms, potions, and spell books, with magic around every corner. Most children would run in terror from a house like that . . . but not Earwig. Using her own cleverness—with a lot of help from a talking cat—she decides to show the witch who's boss.
Goro Miyazaki, son of Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, commented that Japan has many adults but few children (due to declining birth rates and longer life expectancy), so it is tough to be a child today. He was pondering this when he first encountered the character Earwig. It was then that he realized that she would be ideal for these times, as he imagined how she would deal with troublesome adults. The director hopes "from the bottom of my heart that our cheeky, yet cute, Earwig will encourage children — and cheer adults up."
Jones' Howl's Moving Castle also inspired a 2004 anime film by Hayao Miyazaki, and the film earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.
Goro Miyazaki directed the Tales from Earthsea and From Up On Poppy Hill anime films at Studio Ghibli, and also directed the Internationa Emmy-winning Ronja the Robber's Daughter CG anime series at Polygon Pictures, with assistance by Studio Ghibli.
Hayao Miyazaki's first CG-animated work was 2018's Ghibli Museum short "Boro the Caterpillar." He is directing his own new feature film Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka (How Do You Live?) Suzuki reported in May that that the staff had completed 36 minutes of the movie at the time, and was hoping to finish it in the next three years.
Update: Ghibli removed the announcement from its website.