My daughter (Brynne) and I saw the latest Studio Ghibli movie, The Secret World of Arrietty, yesterday. Brynne is a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki/Ghibli movies.
Arrietty was adapted by Hayao Miyazaki from Mary Norton’s novel, The Borrowers. The movie was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a long-time Ghibli animator. The ‘borrowers’ are actually ‘takers’, but they’re quite tiny and take very little, so I’ll give them a pass…
I always enjoy the animation of a Ghibli film, but I find that the stories can feel disjointed (perhaps the Japanese tell tales differently than I’m used to); this film, however, was a smooth plot from beginning to ending. The story itself was simple, except for the fact that there were miniature (ten centimeter high) people living under the floorboards of a home, but it was presented in a manner that made the mundane feel magical. There was no ‘good versus evil’ of the usual Disney film; instead, the story was an innocent, first-but-hopeless love story between Arrietty and the sickly young Shawn (a normal-sized boy) amid some humor and conflict (the conflict was mainly initiated by the housekeeper who also provided comic relief).
I paid particular attention to the art and was quite impressed: the details in the background scenery were spectacular, there were vibrant colors throughout, and I really appreciated the look of the 2D work: it felt warmer, richer and even had more depth than the typical 3D work that is the standard these days. The animation had a surreal quality that was appealing.
Brynne thoroughly enjoyed the movie: she placed in within the top five or so of Miyazaki’s movies, but it didn’t topple any of her favorite three (which are, in no particular order, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke).
I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Miyazaki’s works, or anyone who enjoys an animated feature that doesn’t rely on evil villains, explosions, or high-octane excitement.