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If the Studio Ghibli production "The Secret World of Arrietty" (opened February 17 in select theaters) had come out last year it would have cleaned up on awards because it is leaps and bounds better than anything Hollywood produced last year. Miyazaki, who is now 71, has threatened to retire ever since "Princess Mononoke" in 1997, and he has definitely been slowing down. Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames.
Arrietty is clearly a kindred spirit to the heroines of Miyazaki's earlier "Nausicaa," "Kiki's Delivery Service," "Princess Mononoke," and "Spirited Away." She is smart, self-sufficient, and rebellious without being disrespectful.
One of the reasons the kids were entranced was because the film gives us wonderful details.
If there is one complaint I might have is that "Arrietty" looks too much like a Miyazaki film.
So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place. Do you remember when I went to California as part of the Disney DreamWorks Blogging Event for Real Steel and The Muppets Movie?
When I was there I was among the first people in the country to see the latest film by Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away,” “Ponyo”), The Secret World of Arrietty!!  Talk about a huge honor! Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler), a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett).
Like all little people, Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to “borrow” scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. The English language version of “The Secret World of Arrietty” was executive produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, and directed by Gary Rydstrom. I highly recommend taking children of all ages (who are old enough to sit through a movie) to this film.  The Secret World of Arrietty is sure to spark their imagination and have them checking their own homes for little people! Directed by longtime Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi from a screenplay by anime legend Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Ponyo), Arrietty was released two years ago in Japan, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2010.
The human and Borrower worlds intersect as Arrietty and Shawn befriend each other, letting curiosity override fear. That the 2D animation is breathtakingly gorgeous should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever seen a Ghibli film. Arrietty is an absolutely mesmerizing animated film whose glossy style is matched by its heartwarming substance. We saw the lovely Secret World of Arriety this past weekend and were simply delighted by it.
I will say there were a couple of moments that crossed the line becoming slightly too slow, but only a few and they were short. MAYA LASSITER is a writer of fantasy novels, an unschooling mom, a yogini, a former goat keeper, a yurt dweller, and an all-around cool person. I reviewed Arrietty during its brief theatrical release in 2012 but I’ve finally gotten around to watching the Blu-Ray disc. I harshly criticized Disney’s theatrical release for giving the human characters Anglo names.
Fortunately the home video release gives you an alternative: select the excellent Japanese soundtrack and the English subtitles which provide a reasonably accurate translation.
Shou (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is a Japanese boy from an affluent family whose parents are much too busy to take care of him–especially now that he needs an operation for a heart condition. The actual main character of the story is Arrietty (Mirai Shida) a 15-year-old Borrower who lives with her parents in a reasonably comfortable home that they have built underneath the floorboards. Pod, Homily and Arrietty have often wondered if they are the only Borrowers left in the world. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

The studio was founded just after the success of Miyazaki's 1984 "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind." The company takes its name from the Arabic word the Italians used to name their Saharan scout planes in World War II.
The basic story is taken from Mary Norton's 1952 children's novel "The Borrowers." The novel has already inspired an American TV and theatrical film as well as a British TV show and feature film.
In an odd way, Arrietty and her family also carry on the environmental messages of Miyazaki's earlier films.
Oh sure some film include some humor that entertains adults more than kids (as in "Shrek" or "Tangled") but almost all of the Hollywood produced animation is aimed squarely at a young audience.
There may not be a frenzy of action and fast cuts but each scene has meticulous details about how the borrowers live, how they make use of the things in their environment to survive. That's a distinction that is good to make because part of what makes Japanese anime so good is that the filmmakers and animators in Japan don't see animation as a genre aimed at kids, it is merely an artistic choice -- like black and white over color photography -- exercised to tell a particular story.
If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty’s family from the home and straight into danger.
The owner and writer at Our Knight Life, Emily loves sharing her two adorable boys and journey through motherhood. I was a fan of The Littles growing up, so I was excited to see another cartoon with little people. Sudden movement in the garden catches his eye, and he gasps as a mouse-sized girl darts down a plant stalk. There he tries to spot Arrietty, the tiny girl he glimpsed upon his arrival at the cottage.
A Borrower, a tiny person no bigger than the bugs and mice that scurry past her home, Arrietty and her family live in Aunt Jessica’s basement, hidden from the occupants above.
However, the two quickly find there are serious repercussions to breaking the Borrower code, and for the next 94 minutes the film takes audiences on a ride through two disparate but equally fantastic worlds, connected by sugar cubes, danger and a pair of lonely children. Poehler and Burnett provide the laughs as their characters panic, plot and yell their way through the movie.
The 19-year-old actress pulls off voicing the energetic and plucky Borrower with aplomb, displaying all the quintessential moxie, grit and optimism of a Studio Ghibli heroine. Another Wizards Of Waverly Place alum, Henrie is ill at ease with his role, stumbling and hesitating his way through the script. But Arrietty is more than just lovely images, as Yonebayashi and his animators clearly enjoy establishing the tiny world of the Borrowers. A meditation on life and friendship, it’s a beautiful story sure to thrill audience members of all ages. On the whole, Arrietty is a delightful, moving film, and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried and continue to get choked up when I remember a certain moment (not because it is a sad movie containing tragedy, just that the connections between characters are deep and important. Some scenes may be overly frightening for preschoolers but it should be fine for anyone old enough to read the subtitles.
In the context of this particular scene it seems subtly inappropriate–and this is the sort of subtlety that Japanese writers tend to be particularly sensitive to.
Borrowers live by borrowing supplies from the humans without asking permission and not returning them. They find out the answer when Pod meets Spiller (Tatsuya Fujiwara), a young borrower about Arrietty’s age who lives in the forest. Miyazaki wrote the screenplay and his influence is readily apparent in the feisty female heroine, the character design, and the use of literary source material. This latest incarnation of Norton's popular children's fantasy is transplanted to Japan where we find little (about 6 inch) Arrietty living with her father Pod and her mother Homily under the floorboards of an old country house. If I didn't know that Yonebayashi had directed this I might have mistaken it for Miyazaki's work, especially in terms of how the characters and film looks.
Poehler especially nails Arrietty’s passive-aggressive mother Homily, hilariously sighing and muttering loud prayers for safety every time her husband or daughter turns around.
As the title character, Mendler really carries the film, providing the lion’s share of dialogue and exposition, and Arrietty’s pure determinism shines in Mendler’s every shout.

His delivery is disjointed as Henrie inexpertly tries to match his tone to his character’s facial expressions and comes up short. No honest translator would try to hide this and no reasonably literate viewer would be fooled since plenty of Japanese signs are visible. The American voice actor seems to be be taking things in a completely different direction–but perhaps he was just thrown by the problem of lip-synching 4 syllables of English to 6 or 7 syllables of Japanese. But for this project, Miyazaki has handed over reins over to first time director Hiromasa Yonebayashi. They are also, like the raccoons of "Pom Poko," in danger of extinction because humans pose a threat of destroying their environment.
It doesn't rush the pace because it thinks kids will be bored or dumb down the ideas because they worry kids won't appreciate subtlety. So we see how a pin can become a sword for Arrietty or how double-sided sticky tape can allow Pod to walk up walls. It would be nice for Studio Ghibli to find some fresh new talent that will take the studio into the future and with a fresh sense of style. She also enjoys creating healthy recipes for her family and sharing family friendly product reviews. When death could come from a hungry bird, a bored cat, or from simply falling off a kitchen table, Arrietty’s parents are understandably strict with the young girl. As odd as it is to cast Arnett in a non-comedic role his turn as the ultra-serious Pod is equally compelling.
Luckily, Shawn is a largely silent character, allowing the far more eloquent and expressive Mendler to bring emotional resonance to their moments onscreen. Within their tiny home within a home, the Borrowers are safe, surrounded by their “borrowings” and jewel-toned belongings. Still, to the extent that it can be done in a natural-sounding way, a translation should try to preserve the original meaning.
It also provides lovely hand drawn (with some computer help and support) animation that allows us to literally stop and smell the flowers as it weaves a tale of miniature adventure. Their environment is carefully designed so we see how nails sticking out of the wall can provide a ledge to walk on or how bugs can be a real danger to someone a half a foot high.
Most dangerous of all, in their eyes, are the curious and often cruel human beans, and they impress on Arrietty the importance of remaining unseen: If a human bean should glimpse her, their entire family could be in jeopardy. With a grunt and a sigh Arnett is able to convey Pod’s fears as effectively as his motor-mouth wife, and for fans there’s an extra fun thrill of seeing the married Poehler and Arnett playing husband and wife.
Outside, however, the world is overwhelming as Yonebayashi forces the audience to view almost everything from a Borrower perspective.
The effect is startling as watchers come to realize the magnificent outdoors is full of dangers, from crows roosting in the trees to the bugs inhabiting the basement. Yonebayashi also has great fun playing with speed and shifting point of view to show how the humans perceive the Borrowers (speedy and nimble) and how the Borrowers see humans (huge, loud and lumbering). But Yonebayashi’s movie avoids feeling like a retread of Ghibli’s earlier work, and unlike Ponyo, Miyazaki’s last film, Arrietty’s story and plot never falters. Danger and wonder walk hand in hand in Arrietty’s world, where a pin is a sword, a dollhouse a mansion, and friendship between a human bean and a Borrower inconceivable — at least at first. There’s a sense of completion; every part of the film is integral to moving the plot, and there’s a sense of purpose and closure that recent Ghibli releases lack.

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