Friday 2 March 2012

Arrietty - World Animation review (Japan)

Arrietty - 2010
Director - Hiromasa Yonebayashi

1. Arrietty - Poster

Plot summary / review:
East does West in Studio Ghibli's adaptation of Mary Norton's The Borrowers (1952),  reproducing the success of Hayo Miyazaki's other Western adapts Howl's Moving Castle (2004) and Ponyo (2008). Although "Miyazaki did not direct Arrietty (that task fell to Hiromasa Yonebayashi) but co-wrote the screenplay; his stamp is all over it." (Gritten. 2011). Arrietty bears many of Miyazaki's hallmarks including   beautifully detailed animation, enthusiastic escapism and a plucky young heroine.

The Clock family are four-inches tall and live in secrecy beneath the floorboards of an English-style country house. Fourteen year old Arrietty Clock yearns to explore the world, wondering if she and her family are the last of their kind. One day she is discovered by Sho, a young human boy, sent to the house to rest before a life threatening heart operation. They form an unlikely friendship that unfortunately threatens her family's secret existence. Dan Jolin of Empire magazine notes "this latest take on Horton’s text is by far the most faithful, keeping the focus on the three members of the Clock family and their interaction with a chronically ill human boy." (Jolin. 2011).

2. Arrietty and Sho

Yonebayashi's truthful interpretation of Norton's familiar novel allows the audience to be completely submersed in his exquisitely rendered world. Combined with an astonishing sound design, common household environments appear gargantuan and other-worldly when seen through the eyes of Arrietty. Particularly in the scene when she joins her father Pod on her first "borrowing" mission. She watches on admirably as Pod confidently scales the cathedral like kitchen units. Steve Rose of the Guardian comments that "the simple acquisition of a sugar cube takes on the suspense of a bank heist." (Rose. 2011).

3. Arrietty in the kitchen

Arrietty is an excellent example of Studio Ghibli's ability to incorporate elements of Eastern culture into Western storytelling. Those already familiar with Miyazaki's masterpieces such as Spirited Away (2001) will recognise his influence over his protégé Yonebayashi, the youngest Studio Ghibli director yet. Yonebayashi's beautifully crafted, hand drawn 2D animation will delight audiences of all ages. "Children will enjoy the borrowers’ thrilling forays into the house in search of sustenance; adults can wallow in the exquisite detail of the interior and leafy surroundings." (Gritten. 2011).


Gritten, David. Daily Telegraph review. 28th July 2011 - Accessed 02/03/12

Jolin, Dan. Empire magazine review. 27th July 2011 - Accessed 02/03/12

Rose, Steve. Guardian review. 28th July 2011 - Accessed 02/03/12


1. Arrietty poster

2. Arrietty and Sho - Accessed 02/03/12

3. Arrietty in the Kitchen - Accessed 02/03/12

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