The Secret World of Arrietty
The Secret World of Arrietty
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Writers: Mary Norton, Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa
U.S. Voice Cast: Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, David Henrie, Amy Poehler, Moises Arias, Carol Burnett, Peter Jason, Frank Marshall, Karey Kirkpatrick, Gracle Poletti, Dale Sison, Steve Alpert
UK Voice Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Olivia Colman, Geraldine McEwan, Phyllida Law, Tom Holland, Luke Allen-Gale, Ray Gillon
Japanese Voice Cast: Mirai Shida, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Tomokazu Miura, Kirin Kiki, Shinobu Ohtake, Keiko Takeshita, Shin'ichi Hatori
Synopsis: The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family's residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.
MPAA Rating: G
Hayao Miyazaki does it again
You know, there's something to be said about the lost art of 2-D animation. Sure, with the rise of CGI animated movies, it seems like old fashioned drawn animation is starting to become extinct in this day and age. Sure, CGI animation can impress us sometimes with it's stunning realism like we saw in last year's "Adventures of Tintin", or fascinate us with it's display of surrealistic characters like we saw in such films like "Kung Fu Panda 2." As impressive as those films were, the sad reality is that none of them hold the magic, or mystique, that a hand drawn animated film can capture; hence it's kind of sad if you ask me. However, it only makes films like "Secret World of Arrietty" that much more of a visual treat to watch.
Not only is every scenery and animation in this movie beautifully well done, but at times, I almost felt taken away by it's impressive artistry. Although CGI can do so much in terms of animation, it still fails to capture the soul and creativity that one could easily find in a hand drawn animated film. Unlike CGI animated features that can range anywhere from cheap to impressive, 2-D animation is impressive regardless of it's simplicity or complexity.
For example, "Secret of Kells" didn't feature complex character designs, nor overly complex backgrounds, by any means. However, if you were to look at the animation closely like the color schemes and such, then you'll quickly find that it still manages to portray the world it tries to convey so beautifully through it's simplicity. However, that's not to say that overly complex hand drawn character designs aren't impressive as well (i.e. "Ghost in the Shell" for instance).
Unfortunately, CGI animation is only as impressive as the level detail that's applied to it by the animators. Meaning that even if you have a movie with surrealistic characters, then you still need to have it focused on the details of the character in order for it work, like "Toy Story 3" or "Puss in Boots" for instance. However, when there's not much detail put into the character designs, when it comes to CGI cartoons, then you get movies that feature generically cheap animation like you see in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" or "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius." Therefore, no matter how popular CGI cartoons will become, they will never replace the art or beauty of a hand drawn animated film, as Hayao Miyazaki really knows how to capture the beauty in almost any anime he partakes in.
However, what makes "The Secret World of Arrietty" very fascinating is that he takes modern day things that we're used to seeing everyday, but he manages to portray them in a different way through the eyes of the borrowers. To the borrowers, our world is one full of dangers, and presents a world somehow larger than life itself. Sure, from our eyes, the things we see everyday like a cat, bugs, and etc may seem like normal things we take for granted. But to them, it's almost amazing witness these things through their eyes. It's almost impossible to really explain, but lets just say that the artwork of this movie alone is a masterpiece in animation.
As for the for the story of this movie, we'll get into that now. The film is said to be based on the novel, "The Borrowers", by Mary Norton. The Clock family are a group of borrowers that have been residing beneath a secluded house up on the hills for quite sometime, while remaining undetected by the humans that have lived there. Sure, a few might have seen them before, but it's never been confirmed.
The Clock family lives off borrowing items from the humans that they wouldn't miss like a cube of sugar, a piece of tissue paper, and etc. As it would seem, the Clock family live a fairly simple, yet happy life together. Unfortunately, everything changes when their fourteen year old daughter, Arrietty, is discovered by a sickly twelve year old boy named Shou (Shawn in the U.S. version or Sho in the UK version). At first, the family assumes the worst, and prepares for the possibility of moving away to another home, to avoid detection by the humans. However, as it turns out, Shou has no intention of hurting or exposing the borrowers. No, he merely wants to get to know them, and he somehow becomes drawn to Arrietty, to where he wishes to protect her.
Shou's family is hardly ever around for him, as his mother is always busy working, and his father left after the divorce. To make matters worse, Shou suffers from a lot of heart problems, and he'll be needing surgery for it soon. According to him, the chances of his survival aren't that great, so he doesn't really have much of a social life; hence he can't help but feel drawn to Arrietty. During the course of the movie, they form an unlikely friendship together, but soon come to realize that the closer they become that it puts her entire family in danger of being discovered.
Although I wouldn't dare say this Hayao Miyazaki's best work, as that honor still arguably belongs to both "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke." However, it's definitely one of the better anime films that I've seen in a good while, as it meshes beautiful hand drawn animation with a well orchestrated story. The script is amazingly well done to slowly pull us into the borrowers world, to suspend our disbelieves; while featuring great direction from Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who does a wonderful job orchestrating the overall tone of the movie itself.
As for the voice acting, I thought all the voice cast played their parts rather well. Granted, it's not the greatest voice acting that I've ever heard in a movie before, but it's still genuine enough to where you can buy into their performances. Overall, if you're a huge fan of animation, or specifically anime, then I'd definitely recommend this movie at a rating of three out of four.