Hayao Miyazaki has, once again, given us an amazing story: The Secret World of Arrietty. Like all of his other films, this was based off of a folktale that has been passed on for generations, which of course would be the Borrowers. As much as I enjoy fairytales, I don’t know much about these creatures, but the movie had given a fairly nice introduction to who they are. Borrowers are small people who, obviously borrow. They borrow things they need, in order to live, but only necessary things, or items you won’t miss, like a sugar cube, or a sheet of tissue. Very few of them stay where humans (“beings” the borrowers refer to them as) reside due to the fact that they don’t want to be caught, but the ones who’ve had no problems and have been fine on their own live may stay around human homes, because it’s much easier to acquire items they might need.
Our main character–which is of course, Arrietty–, is a fourteen year old girl who lives with her mom and her dad. They live under the house of our second main character, Sean (in the English version); Sean moved to this house on account of his parents being unable to care for him as he has a weak heart, so they send him off to his aunt’s. Well, as soon as Sean get there, things go awry as he notices Arrietty while she is out retrieving herbs for her mom and flowers for her room; however Arrietty believes that she hid herself well. Her father, being the man of the house, has been the only one to go on borrowings, where he would pick up small things that they would need. Almost like a coming of age thing, it is Arrietty’s time to become a borrower. Problems ensue, and the main story kicks off for the family of borrowers to live peacefully.
Miyazaki did an excellent job in creating each character; there was little left to wonder about them (all except for Spiller, but he was supposed to remain mysterious), and they were each somehow relatable. My only concern about these characters had been the American voice actors. Arrietty’s voice was perfect, she sounded just like an energetic, strong, fourteen year old teenager, so Disney made a wise choice on who they chose for her (as bad as the song she sung for the credits was…she did justice to the role). As for Sean, they chose a voice actor who was too old for the role; Sean looks as if he was supposed to have been a high school boy, but I don’t know many high school boys with a voice of a twenty year old… The parents sounded a bit young, but that’s somewhat understandable to me. The minor characters such as Spiller and the two aunts were just perfect, and I have no problems. Regardless of any factors, each voice actor put great emotion into giving their character a voice; they really did become the characters, which really made the movie great.
The artwork was very familiar; Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky–we all know these films from our youth (maybe later for some of you older fans), and we all recognise the trademark artwork in every
Miyazaki film. This movie hadn’t disappointed in any way; everything was nicely detailed, and it ran smoothly. Often in animations you’ll notice small flaws in movement or maybe someone in the back has derpy eyes, but once again, it was very smooth and it was nostalgic seeing the unforgettable art style. The colors were very earthy in the film to represent the nature of the borrowers: mythical creatures that live in the forests to hide away from humans.
I think what made the movie stand out even more to me was the music. With the lovely Celtic-themed music sung and composed by Cecil Corbel, the movie just seemed so much more magical. I’ve only just recently started paying attention to OSTs, so maybe in the other Ghibli films the music was just as grand, but the music really stood out to me in this film. When I heard Arrietty’s theme, I knew I needed the OST. The music was just amazing, and it set the mood flawlessly. Of course, once again, Disney got one of their “stars” to sing a song for the movie…It could’ve done without the song as it was crammed into the end credits; I sat through it with my friends as there was still more to see in the credits, but we really didn’t need it. “I’m in Love With My Best Friend” barely touches what goes on in the film; I don’t believe Arrietty and Sean care for each other like that, but I’m not going to go on about my views of the shipping in this film.
Overall, I was very impressed. The ending wasn’t as filling as the other films, however I couldn’t imagine a better way TO end it (I’m not going to spoil that either, so I’ll leave it there). It was a much more happier, lighthearted film than some of the other Miyazaki movies out there; much like Ponyo, it’s a great kids movie (although if you bring them, tell them not to talk during the film!), and it was a very sweet movie to watch. It’s out in theatres now, so go catch it while you can!