In an interview with Japanese news outlet Jiji, Studio Ghibli director Goro Miyazaki described the difficulties the team faced while making Earwig and the Witch, the studio’s first foray into 3D computer-generated animation. Miyazaki also commented on how the film’s story of being controlled closely resembled his own personal experiences. [Thanks, Jiji!]
Earwig and the Witch revolves around protagonist Erica Wigg as she wrestles for control against the witch she works under. Miyazaki explained that this theme of “control” repeats throughout the movie. Erica’s own name even spells out the term “to control” in Japanese (Aya Tool, which sounds similar to 操る).
Similarly, Miyazaki explained how he had grown up with little experience in the animation industry. He initially planned to go into park and recreation management after college. However, Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki suggested he work at the studio. He eventually went on to direct Tales from Earthsea in 2006, and From Up on Poppy Hill in 2011. In the interview, he described this social pressure as though he was “being controlled” by others.
I was filming movies before I could even realize it. I was also being controlled by a bad wizard named Toshio Suzuki, but it would have been boring if I didn’t fight back. That feeling is probably what unconsciously influenced Aya’s (Erica) character.
When asked about why he decided to split from Studio Ghibli’s traditional hand-drawn method, Miyazaki explained that he felt it was “meaningless to make a broken-down copy” of his father or the late Isao Takahata’s work. Instead, he decided to use stop-motion series like Wallace and Grommit as influences to create a fully 3D animated film. During production, the director also learned that many techniques used in hand-drawn animation, such as contrasting backgrounds, worked in 3D as well.
Finally, Goro Miyazaki compared his own work to that of other Ghibli creators. He stated that films like Earwig and the Witch were “Western desserts made by an old traditional Japanese confectionery.” Noting that those like Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata were once considered revolutionary figures in the industry, he said he feels that “[we] must also eventually strive to achieve the same” through experimentation and creativity.