Hayao Miyazaki’s newest fairy tale has finally reached the shores of America. More importantly, it reached Nebraska, where I live and was able to enjoy this newest fantasy from the master of anime creativity on the big screen.
The last Miyazaki film to make it across the ocean was 2008’s Ponyo, a retelling of the classic Little Mermaid tale. The Secret World of Arrietty is another adaptation of a piece of classic literature, ‘The Borrowers’.
While this film is not a Miyazaki directed film, it is still produced by Studio Ghibli, and was written by Miyazaki. It was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who has been the key animator on the past three Ghibli films including Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo.
It has been years, if not decades since I’ve read ‘The Borrowers’ but watching Arrietty’s adventures I was quickly taken back to the fun and enjoyable innocence of ‘The Borrowers’.
The story tells the tale of a sick young boy, Shawn, who is sent to live in his mother’s childhood home with his grandmother and her crotchety housekeeper. While there Shawn catches a glimpse of Arrietty Clock, a borrower, a little person, roughly four inches in height, who lives under the house with her parents.
Borrowers are interesting creatures, humanistic in form, just small. They call themselves borrowers because they don’t really steal things from the houses they live under, they just borrow a little bit in order to survive. They come out and scavenge at night after the household falls asleep. They take anything any regular sized people would need from tissue paper to sugar cubes.
It’s a sweet story as we watch the trust grow between Arrietty and Shawn. It’s a relationship that puts the Borrowers in danger and they are eventually forced to move on to a different home, in the search for other borrowers.
If you’ve read the Borrowers, this is a pretty accurate take on the classic tale. If you haven’t read it, you should watch this movie. It’s a quick fancy free little trip into the world of Studio Ghibli. If you haven’t watched the other Ghibli films, this is a good way to get your feet wet before you jump all in.
The one thing I missed most about this movie was the absence of the fantastical creatures and dust mites that permeate every scene in all the other Ghibli films. This one, while a fun story, lacks the fantastic that the other films capture so well.
If you’re looking for a Miyazaki film, you’re looking in the wrong direction. If you’re looking for some great story telling by a modern day master accompanied by fun free flowing animation, this is the film for you.