Controversial new Studio Ghibli trailer leaves fans unhappy

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Few things are sacred in this world, but if you’d asked us last year, we’d have said Studio Ghibli’s traditional hand-drawn style was one of them. That all changed with this year’s announcement of the studio’s first ever all-CGI film, Earwig and the Witch. The first trailer had just dropped, and it seems fans aren’t convinced by the new look.

While we’ve already seen the first stills from the film, the new Japanese trailer (below) reveals what the animation looks like in motion. And one thing’s for sure – this is not your average Studio Ghibli film. Check out our best animation tools if you fancy creating your own CGI extravaganza.

Directed by Goro Miyazaki, son of Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, the film is set to air on Japanese channel NHK on 30 December. It is based on children’s book Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones, in which an orphan girl named Aya is adopted by a witch and taken to an unsettling new home.

While it’s certainly a bold move for Stuidio Ghibli to attempt its first all-CGI film, we can’t help but wonder if the style suits a studio known for its beautifully rich painted worlds. This perhaps wouldn’t matter if the CGI looked incredible, but the computer graphics in the new trailer seem a little rudimentary, without the impressive texture and detail we often see from the likes of Pixar.

And for many Ghibli fans on Twitter, the trailer has confirmed fears sown by the first screenshots of the film. Indeed, the general consensus seems to be that the new look just doesn’t gel with the studio’s previous work. As one YouTuber puts it, “I don’t mean to sound rude but 3D animation does not vibe with Studio Ghibli’s 2D style.”

For Ghibli fans, the issue seems to be twofold – not only do the 3D effects look “rough,” but they also don’t seem to evoke that magic, somewhat nostalgic sense the studio is known for. And with the film due for release in Japan this month, we doubt we’re in for any last-minute Sonic the Hedgehog-style redesigns. 

Still, fans needn’t worry too much – Studio Ghibli isn’t about to abandon its roots completely. 2023’s How Do You Live? is set to feature traditional hand-drawn animations, and will be directed by studio founder Hayao Miyazaki. And there’s been no shortage of Ghibli goodness for fans to enjoy in 2020 – including a new library of free HD stills from the studio’s entire back catalogue. 

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