The Secret World of Arrietty
Here we have a title based on a book called 'The Borrowers', which tells the story of little people who dwell within the walls of a house, and take that which they need from the humans in small doses. For example, tissues and sugar cubes - things humans wouldn't notice go missing. This is pretty much just the Ghibli take on it, but it should probably be known that I'm mostly unfamiliar with 'The Borrowers', other than its core concept.
The story opens up with a narration from the human boy, Shō (Ryunosuke Kamiki/Tom Holland/David Henrie), telling of a week of summer spent with his great Aunt, Sadaku (Keiko Takeshita/Phyllida Law/Gracie Poletti) where, basically, he becomes familiar with the idea of the Borrowers by witnessing them first-hand.
Shō attempts to befriend Arrietty (Mirai Shida/Saoirse Ronan/Bridgit Mendler), the daughter of the family, after catching her on her first borrowing mission with her father, Pod (Tomokazu/MiuraMark Strong/Will Arnett). However, Pod and her mother, Homily (Shinobu Otake/Olivia Colman/Amy Poehler) remain cautious of the potential dangers of human contact, and begin to wonder if they should relocate. Meanwhile, Arrietty attempts to find the good in mankind, through Shō.
Of all the films that Studio Ghibli has cranked out, this was the only one I actually recall seeing trailers for, and nearly even getting to see in the theater. This is a most unfortunate miss on my part, however, seeing as the overall scale of this movie would have lent itself to the big screen very nicely. It's stylized in such a way that we understand how small these characters really are through, not only visuals, but the way the sound is mixed and edited. It's very interesting that this animated film seemed to do a better job than something like 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids'. It's eerily beautiful in its execution.
The underlying theme in this one seems to be another one about environment, but having to do more with endangered species than just nature in general. The big thing in this is the idea that the Borrowers are just about extinct, as the family has no idea how many of them there are left, and understand that they're rare, in the very least.
The message is clear but subtle enough that it's mostly shadowed by the film's... how many times can I bring this up... beautiful animation and scenery. However, I give this film full credit for giving us something different from our usual vast, breathtaking landscapes. This one does a fantastic job of bringing us into their little world instead, and this time around, I found it to be a bit more hauntingly beautiful than usual. I really liked it as a whole, and if it ever does come to the big screen again, I'm gonna have to try to get myself a ticket.
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As anime is an all-around untapped resource for my viewing pleasure, I have decided to explore the Ghibli titles, one-by-one. It seemed good a place to start as any. I'll be focusing on these titles throughout the month of August.