Hey everyone, welcome to a movie review courtesy from Old School Lane. One of the many things that I love is anime, especially anime movies done by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. I refer to Studio Ghibli as the Pixar of Japan; they both release wonderful movies that appeals to children and adults, they have memorable characters, interesting themes in their stories, creative premises in their plots, and have an amazing atmospheric feel. I wish that many other animated movie studios would take a page of their work. I’m looking at you, Illumination Entertainment. I was very excited when I first saw a trailer of The Secret World of Arrietty in a commercial about a month ago. It looked like a exact anime replica of the classic book The Borrowers written by Mary Norton.

The Secret World of Arrietty wasn’t directed or produced by Miyazaki, only co-written. Does it make it fall short of a masterpiece or is it a wonderful rendition of the book with some creativity? 

Story

The story is about a young boy named Shō (Shawn in the American version) who moves into his mother’s childhood home to live with his great-aunt Sadako (Jessica in the American version) and her caretaker Haru (Hara in the American version). But they’re not the only ones who live in this house. A family of Borrowers, a group of very small people who borrow small things from humans without being caught, live there as well. The couple, Pod and Homily, and their 14 year old daughter Arrietty. Pod sees that Arrietty is old enough to be a Borrower so he takes her to the humans’ home and steal a few minor things such as sugar and tissue paper. I really liked that segment of the movie because it shows you how creative they get from place to place and how big everything is compared to them. It’s really atmospheric.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t turn out very well when Arrietty is seen by Shō and they had to run away before any of the other humans see them. Throughout the course of the movie, Arrietty and Shō become friends and there are some revealing stories as to why he’s living with his great-aunt and the stories he’s heard from his mother about the “little people” living in her house. There are some very shocking moments in the movie that I don’t want to spoil, so let’s move on. Along the course of the movie, they meet another Borrower named Spiller, who’s actually quite funny, Haru slowly begins to find out about the Borrowers, which also becomes quite funny, and the family is being threatened to move from their home since Shō knows about their existence. 

Animation

The animation is classic 2D animation with a bit of an Asian look, just like the other Studio Ghibli movies. I love how the colors of the flowers and the greenery seen in the trees and grass look. The rain falling looks big and drippy, the house from the Borrowers’ perspective is really big, and the humans’ house itself is really nice looking. It makes everything pop and your eyes never get bored when looking at the surroundings, it’s beautiful. It’s quite a refreshing look given the fact that most kids’ shows and movies nowadays are CGI. It gets quite tiring when you’re looking at it over and over again. I haven’t seen an American kids’ movie that doesn’t use CGI since 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. If you haven’t seen that movie yet, I highly recommend it. It’s awesome! 

Overall, the movie is really good and is highly recommended to see if you’re a Studio Ghibli fan, a Miyazaki fan (to some extent), or are interested in seeing an animated movie that doesn’t dumb down to kids and is also enjoyable to adults. However, it’s not quite in par with Spirited Away, so it kinda falls short of a complete masterpiece for me. The ending kinda let me down a bit, especially. Nonetheless, it’s still good and it follows the original book quite well while mixing in some new things to the story. But, unlike Ponyo, it looks like you’re watching an animated movie of The Borrowers, so it’s kind of a let down that there were no risks taken to making it a completely different story. Oh well, for what it is, it’s really good, so no more complaining and nitpicking. 

I’m quite surprised that there were a lot of families who came to see this when I was there, in fact, there were barely any seats available when the movie was about to begin. I was sitting right between a father who brought his two sons with him and a group of young adults who seemed to know about Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s movies. In the end, everyone seemed to have liked the movie and left talking about some of the things they liked. However, some of the kids were getting a bit bored with some of the more quiet moments in the movie, but it wasn’t for very long that they got into the movie again. 

That’s all for this movie review. I hope that you enjoyed and stay tuned when I review it again when it comes out on DVD on a new segment of Old School Lane called Second Take. It’s when me or Kevin talk about a movie that we’ve seen in the theaters and see it again when it comes out on DVD to see if we feel any changes on our reaction to the movie. We also will give out the characters and plots in more detail. 

Also, stay tuned for two new First Impressions from me regarding about the new trailers I’ve seen before I sawThe Secret World of Arrietty and one from Kevin about a new animated TV show coming up next year. Hope we see you soon.

-Patricia

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