[Anime] The Borrower Arrietty

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[Anime] The Borrower Arrietty

Postby ANIMENIAC78 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:10 pm


The Borrower Arrietty
Release Date: July 17, 2010
Director: Yonebayashi Hiromasa
Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli
Run Time: 94 mins

Directed by newcomer Yonebayashi Hiromasa, and written by Miyazaki Hayao, The Borrower Arrietty adapts the novel The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

Story: 7/10
One summer, a boy named Sho goes to live with his grandmother to recover from a heart illness. Unbeknownst to them, the house in inhabited by others. A family of Borrowers, 10 centimeter tall humans take make their living by taking small items that would usually not be realized as missing from people's homes. The family is comprised of Arrietty, a 14-year-old girl, and her parents Pod (the father) and Homily (the mother). The day that Sho arrives happens also happens to be Arrietty's first time on a borrowing mission with her father. But, Arrietty is seen by Sho. From this point, Sho tries to meet Arrietty, and through his kindness, Arrietty eventually develops a deep friendship with Sho. However, the number one rule of the Borrowers is to not be seen by humans, and if so, for them to immediately move out.

Now, before I start my story review, I must admit that I've never read The Borrowers, nor seen the 3 past adaptations, so I can't comment on the closeness of this movie to the original work, except from the run through that I just read from SparkNotes. The first 20 minutes or so of the movie are truly mesmerizing, as we go through Arrietty's first time into Sho's grandmother's house, and how inconveniences for us, are advantages for Arrietty and her Father's journey. The movie then switches to Sho's attempts to meet with Arrietty, Arrietty's growing curiosity in Sho, and Arrietty's family's preparations to moving out. I wished that the movie focused more on the Borrower's daily life, though. i would have liked to see more of how Arrietty's family makes a living, and how they interact with things from the natural world. With the movie's run time at a mere 94 minutes, they could have easily added this. Two characters that I have a gripe with are the characters of Spiller (a 12-year-old Borrower) and Haru (Sho's grandmother's maid; Rosa Pickhatchet in the original novel). Spiller's character didn't get too much depth invested in him. He suddenly appears one day helping Pod after he sprains his ankle on an outing to search for a new home. Before this point, Arrietty's family had believed for themselves to be the last of their kind. Spiller's character is introduced in the second book of the original novel series, and explains that he got his name from the only memories of his parents, the two words "Dreadful Spiller." In this movie, he explains that he is a hunter, an orphan, lives with 3 other Borrowers, and nothing more. In the credit sequence, he bashfully gives Arrietty a raspberry to eat, signifying he has feelings for her. This feels very tacked on. In the case of Haru, she becomes the movie's "villain" all too suddenly. Although she spent most of the movie with "shifty eyes" to signify her devious nature, her sudden change into ruining the lives of Arrietty's family seems unthoroughly fleshed out.

In short, the start of the movie is compelling, but falls short of story-telling expectations from Ghibli near the end of the movie.

Animation: 9/10
Do I really need to explain how beautiful the animation at this point in Ghibli's history? Like all other Ghibli films, Arrietty is hand drawn for the majority. The scenery's water color style art deserves its own place in an art museum. The animation is fluid with no hiccups. What's more, the movie does an excellent job with scale to make the audience feel as if they're a mere 10 centimeters tall themselves, fully immersing them into the Borrowers' world. Also, the bugs in the movie are, what can I say, cute, a word I would very seldom use with bugs.

Sound: 8/10
The sounds of the movie also do their part in immersing their audience into the Borrowers' world. The first time Arrietty and her father arrive in the kitchen, and every little sound is magnified (to the rumble of the fridge, to the dripping of the facet), I really felt like I was standing right there with Arrietty. These sounds that we would perceive as perhaps annoying became a symphony of wonder and astonishment when heard in the movie. This feeling, I'm afraid, would translate poorly to the small screen, unless one has a high end surround system.

The theme for the movie is performed by Cécile Corbel, who gained Ghibli's attention after sending in fan letters, and a demo tap of her singing. She does a good job at singing her self-composed theme for the movie.

Final Word
Could Miyazaki Hayao's search for a successor finally be over with Yonebayashi Hiromasa? If The Borrower Arrietty is an example, then "maybe." For his first directorial debut, Yonebayashi's film is filled with heart, but lacks a little on the story. On the technical level, Arrietty achieves by fully immersing the audience into the world of the Borrowers. Here's to looking at a long film career for Yonebayashi.

Final Score: 8/10
A-Amazing! Decantering from such a height!

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