For this week’s “Miyazaki Monday”, it is the 2010 film The Secret World of Arrietty:
The Secret World of Arrietty tells the story of a young man named Sho (named Shawn in the English dub) who spent a summer at his mother’s childhood home. He stays there with his great aunt Sadako (named Jessica in the English dub) and the house maid Haru (named Hara in the English dub). On his first day at the home, he discovers Arrietty coming out of a bush after Niya the cat chased after a crow.
Arrietty is a “Borrower”, a little person that lives in the house and ‘borrows’ small things to live on. She lives in the house along with her father Poddo (named Pod in the English dub) and mother Homiri (named Homily in the English dub). Poddo usually is the one in the family to go on missions to ‘borrow’ but Arrietty is finally at the age to be able to go as well. Late one night, Poddo and Arrietty go and try to get a sugar cube but Arrietty is spotted by Sho. Sho tries to get Arrietty to stay but she leaves with her father. The next day, Sho leaves a sugar cube out for Arrietty.
The “Borrower” family realize they have been found out about and begin to plan to leave. Sho learns from Sadako that there had been “Borrowers” seen in the past and that the dollhouse that was in Sho’s room was custom built for the “Borrowers” that lived in the house to have but they were never seen.
Sho tries give some of the contents of the dollhouse to the Borrower family but that frightens them more and they hurry to try and leave along with Supira (named Spiller in the English dub), a young Borrower who helped Poddo out when he was injured during a borrowing mission. When Arrietty revealed to Sho that they were leaving, Sho revealed to Arrietty that he was to have surgery on a heart condition he’s had since birth. In the end, they encourage each other to keep fighting to live.
While Sho is happy about seeing the Borrowers and wants to protect them, Haru on the other hand believes they are pests and tries to capture and get rid of them. At one point, Haru is able to capture Homiri and it’s up to Sho and Arrietty to save Homiri and have Haru get her comeuppance.
The Secret World of Arrietty is based in part on the famous children’s book The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Miyazaki wrote the screenplay for the film as well as produced it. The director of the film was Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who had been an animator on Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and Ponyo. It was released in theaters in Japan on July 17, 2010. It ended up being the highest grossing Japanese film that year. It was distributed in North America again by Disney. The English dub cast included Bridgit Mendler, David Henrie, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett and Carol Burnett. It was released in North America in theaters on February 17, 2012 (it received a screening in New York city prior to this on January 21, 2012). It opened in a record 1,522 theaters for Studio Ghibli. It opened at $6.45 million that weekend (and $8.48 million for the 4 day President’s Day Weekend) which beat Ponyo for the highest grossing weekend for a Studio Ghibli film. It would go onto gross worldwide over $145 million dollars.
I went and saw The Secret World of Arrietty on my birthday. I enjoyed the film and while it is not in my top 5 Miyazaki films, it is another classic film in line with other Miyazaki greats.