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Title: The Secret World of Arrietty (借りぐらしのアリエッティ)
Released: 2010

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Class Superlative: Most Familiar

In a Land of Pure Imagination

(For some reason, the U.S. version Anglicized some of the characters’ names, but I’m going to use the Japanese names.)

Arrietty and her family are tiny people who secretly live in the walls and floors of a house, and they borrow items from their human landlords in order to survive. Even though she’s been taught all her life to avoid humans at all costs, Arrietty befriends the human boy named Sho. 

So yeah, this is an adaptation of The Borrowers. Which I hadn’t clued into until I started watching, because ha ha I didn’t see how the cover plainly says “inspired by the beloved children’s novel The Borrowers.”

Adorable Child Alert

None!

Lovable Anthropomorphic Sidekick

Sho’s cat, Niya, sure knows how to relax. 

Wait, WTF?

Errrr, did anyone else sense vibes between Arrietty and Sho? And speaking of, these beetles were totally scuttling off to mate, right?

Famous Voices

There are actually two English dubs of this, each with their share of stars.

U.S. version: 

U.K. version: 

Class Superlative: Most Familiar

While I found this to be a decent movie (and adaptation, once I realized what it was), I wouldn’t consider it a good Ghibli movie. When you’re at the top, you’re held to a different standard, y’know? This would be a good job, good effort for a smaller animation company, but for Ghibli? Nuh-uh.

Maybe the source material is to blame, but Arrietty is missing some of the nuances and subtlety that Ghibli usually excels at — as evident by the cartoonish villainy of Haru. Plus, I’ve already seen it done before (albeit in live action and with young Draco Malfoy) — and done better, or so nostalgia tells me.

Exploring the Studio Ghibli Vault

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Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she’s been overseeing all things FYA Book Club since 2013.