Movie Review – The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi; English translation directed by Gary Rydstrom

Starring the voices of Bridget Mendler, David Henrie, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, and Carol Burnett.


Ah, Studio Ghibli. Perhaps the biggest name in Japanese animation. I’m so glad the folks at Pixar started getting insistant that Disney follow through with the deal to dub them and put them in theatres. Ever since Howl’s Moving Castle, I’ve gone out of my way to catch Studio Ghibli films in the theatre. I know some otaku who refuse to see it in the theatre, because it’s not subtitled, but dude, trust me, this animation must be experienced on the big screen. I got goosebumps from the trailer for The Secret World of Arrietty. While Ghibli’s resident genius, Hayao Miyazaki, didn’t direct this one, he was still on board as the screenwriter. So I was ready to see what rookie director Hiromasa Yonebayashi had in store for this adaptation of the classic British children’s novel The Borrowers.


Taking place in an old country home on the outskirts of Tokyo, we meet our hero Shawn. He’s resting up in this country home, and he soon encounters young Arrietty. But, Arrietty is a Borrower, a race of little people who live in the walls of homes and “borrow” what they need. Shawn and Arrietty become fast friends, but their friendship is threatened. Elderly Hara has long been obsessed with finding the little people who live in the walls, and now thinks that Shawn holds the key. Will Shawn and Arrietty be able to stay friends, or will their friendship destroy both their worlds?

What I Liked

It’s Studio Ghibli, so the animation, of course, is amazing. The dubbing is really good, too. Poehler and Arnett are great as Arrietty’s parents. I’m so used to the goofy characters Arnett plays on sitcoms, it’s neat hearing him all deep and dramatic. Disney kid Mendler is pretty good, too, as Arrietty. This is a bit smaller story than most of Ghibli’s epic fantasy, but it’s really good.

What I Didn’t Like

Poehler is a little too hysterical sometimes as Arrietty’s mother. The plot is a little too simplistic, and the ending is a bit of a downer.

Final Assessment

It’s not one of Studio Ghibli’s strongest, but it’s still heartwarmer.

3 Nibs