Arama They Didn't

12:52 pm - 07/17/2010

Studio Ghibli's "The Borrower Arrietty" out in theaters!

Arrietty came out on the 17th in Japan and here's one of the first English reviews!

Ghibli borrows — steals? — a classic tale



By MARK SCHILLING
Studio Ghibli is often assumed to be the animation house that Hayao Miyazaki built, but Miyazaki has directed only nine of its 17 features to date. Four were made by studio cofounder Isao Takahata and four by four different directors. These latter four, however, are all immediately identifiable as Studio Ghibli products, from their spunky teenage protagonists to their pictorial realism in everything from the play of shadows through the trees to the raising of sticky windows.

The latest, "Kari-gurashi no Arietty (The Borrowers)," features direction by veteran Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi and a script by Miyazaki himself. It is a simply told, beautifully animated delight that, like the best Ghibli films, speaks straight to the heart and imagination of the child in all of us.

Like the 2008 "Gedo Senki (Tales from Earthsea)," which was directed by Miyazaki's son Goro from a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, "Arietty" is based on a classic of British children's fantasy literature: Mary Norton's 1952 novel "The Borrowers." But whereas "Gedo Senki," as well as much of Miyazaki's own oeuvre, is full-bore fantasy, with magical powers, mythical beasts and all the rest, "Arietty" unfolds in a present-day Japan in which no one but birds can fly. True, its 14-year-old title heroine (voiced by Mirai Shida), together with her mother Homily (Shinobu Otake) and father Pod (Tomokazu Miura), stand only 10 cm tall, but these "tiny people" are ordinary in every other respect.

Living under the floorboards of a house in the Tokyo suburbs inhabited by the elderly Sadoko (Keiko Takeshita) and her wizened housekeeper Haru (Kirin Kiki), they "borrow" everything they need to live from their human hosts, in amounts so small they are barely noticed.

Pod is a sturdy, stoic, resourceful sort who carries out his nighttime "borrowing" missions like a veteran mountain climber, methodically scaling the heights of the kitchen with a fishing hook and string. He is also handy with tools, making everything the family needs for its survival and comfort, though the worry-wart Homily is constantly fretting about the threats all around them — the most dangerous being discovery by their human hosts.

The slender but athletic Arietty is more her father's child than her mother's, fearlessly exploring the house and its lush garden while fending off Sadoko's fat cat, a pesky crow and a variety of insects. Then she is spotted by Sho (Ryunosuke Kamiki), Sadoko's sensitive, sickly 12-year-old nephew, who is resting up for a heart operation at a Tokyo hospital.

Instead of retreating into the shadows, however, she is drawn to this human, who sympathizes with her situation and understands her isolation. Their unusual friendship, however, leads to potentially disastrous consequences. With the loss of their little paradise looming, Pod begins to talk about moving to parts unknown.

Miyazaki reportedly selected Yonebayashi to direct "Arietty" for his animation skills. There are few of the flights of animated fancy, from the dazzling to the bizarre, that Miyazaki has made his trademark; instead, Yonebayashi and his team (with Miyazaki supervising) have created a world that is both gorgeously detailed and thrillingly realized from the perspective of its miniature protagonists.

As Arietty climbs vines to the roof, plunges on a thread from a kitchen table or performs other feats of derring-do, we have the heart-in-the-throat feeling of not only admiring her pluck, but being in her shoes. Would 3-D enhance this feeling? (hell no) Possibly, but Yonebayashi and other Ghibli animators are past masters at creating the illusion of presence and depth without it.

The film threatens to devolve into the sappy, the preachy and the slapsticky at certain moments, but they are mercifully brief. There are also characters, such as the casually cruel Haru and the high-minded, mature-beyond-his-years Sho, who verge on annoying cliche, but they also have their virtues. Sho shows, in times of crisis, that he is no wuss, while bluntly telling Arietty that she and her kind will probably disappear. What chance do they have against the billions of humans with whom they uneasily share the planet? One answer arrives in the form of a tiny "wild boy" (Takuya Fujiwara) Pod encounters in the woods, who lives minus the comforts of civilization that Pod has so painstakingly assembled and constructed.

Will this become our answer as well? Like many other Ghibli films, "Arietty" comments on the devastation humans have wrought on the environment and speculates on the consequences.

More importantly for this Ghibli fan, however, the film gave me hope that when Miyazaki lays down his pencil for good, the studio will have at least one worthy successor. Sure, Yonebayashi is no Miyazaki — but who is?

I don't feel like rereading but he gave it 4/5 stars.



source video

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i was reading some fan reviews on yahoo japan and they said the animation music and direction were great but the story lacked.

i def don't think it's time for miyazaki to lay down his pencil. he can stop directing but he should never stop writing!
dieu_existence 17th-Jul-2010 05:12 pm (UTC)
Can wait to watch this movie.

Unfortunelly Ponyo haven't being released on brazilian cinemas yet.
tree_star123 18th-Jul-2010 03:38 am (UTC)
Ponyo sucked imo.
ayumwu 18th-Jul-2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
But it was aimed for a much younger generation than his other works? So we have to understand that children may not be able to grasp deeper issues like Nausicaa or this movie?
chibi_hime 17th-Jul-2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
Will be watching this next week. This is the movie I've been waiting for since the beginning of the year!! Hopefully, it won't be as confusing as Ponyo...
laos7 17th-Jul-2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
I love Ghibli, all of their films are simply perfect and amazing.
Can't wait to watch this one too ^^
itendtoflail 17th-Jul-2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
The title of this article is misleading to me.
itendtoflail 17th-Jul-2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
And I still haven't seen Ponyo Dx
catanaition 17th-Jul-2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
Same here. I was like, wait, what? And then it was just a movie review.
shwinlewin 18th-Jul-2010 02:06 am (UTC)
if you two would like to watch ponyo, and don't mind that it's on your computer, I could always give you the link... its even subbed.
catanaition 18th-Jul-2010 03:30 am (UTC)
I've seen it (and found it fairly meh) XD was replying regarding the misleading headline.
itendtoflail 18th-Jul-2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
...interested.
pikapika217 18th-Jul-2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
Icon LOVE
dashed 17th-Jul-2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
SO EXCITED \o/
ayatsurimaster 17th-Jul-2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see this.
goku_the_saru 17th-Jul-2010 06:39 pm (UTC)
Thumbelina?
ramen_cupnoodle 17th-Jul-2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Borrowers

I read this series when I was pretty young haha.
goku_the_saru 17th-Jul-2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
OH! Yes! I remember this!
kittycurious 17th-Jul-2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
I'm not excited to see this now that I know it's based on The Borrowers. I still need to read that series.
darlingpoppet 17th-Jul-2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
i already bought the soundtrack to this movie, and it's sooo pretty, i love it!

i was going to see it today, but i might have to wait until next week because of finals, boo. good to know it's getting good reviews at least ♥
soil_soil 17th-Jul-2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
Oh good idea! I will go look for the soundtrack now, thanks for the heads up :)
soil_soil 17th-Jul-2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see this! Hopefully the fan reviews aren't onto something with the story lacking, but when everything else (animation, music) looks & sounds so fantastic I guess it's easy to criticize the story for not being as top-notch. Hopefully it doesn't take forever to come out in the States.

I hope Miyazaki isn't done writing anytime soon though too :(
I'd love to see him direct again, but it really doesn't sound like he's going to.

btw the scene near the end with the young boy & Arrietty in the garden is absolutely gorgeous
frost 18th-Jul-2010 03:06 am (UTC)
I loved The Borrowers (and The Littles, too, haha) as a kid; can't wait to see this! =)
jpoplover101 18th-Jul-2010 04:56 am (UTC)
I wanna watch! I love Ghibli
katsup_404 18th-Jul-2010 05:52 am (UTC)
omg the animation looks gorgeous, and the music (from the trailer at least) sounds pretty!! I'm so looking forward to this :)
dollhouse__x 18th-Jul-2010 07:30 am (UTC)
lol the "-steals?" part like this is something totally new and has never happened in the history of ghibli or animation in general.

Very excited to see this, there's always something to appreciate in Ghibli movies, even if the pacing gets strange, the art will always be phenominal, as was the case with Ponyo. Idk about how it "sucks" it's actually a great movie for me because I don't expect every Ghibli movie to be some kind of masterpiece in every aspect.

Gedo Senki... now that was truly dry D: though the art and music are still gorgeous.
yuui1010 19th-Jul-2010 08:01 am (UTC)
I always love Gibli's works.
And yes to the successor of genius director who mamnaged to bring out the whole enjoyment of watching a simple plain yet very heart breaking n so homey anime movies ^ ^.
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