Studio Ghibli’s latest beautiful movie based on Mary Norton’s The Borrowers (yes I realize this is the French movie poster, but I like this one best).
Normally I avoid dubbed anime like the plague. I really hate them. I’ve tried watching several dubs, even the ones people swear are good, like Cowboy Bebop, and it makes my ears bleed. Personal preference; if you like your anime dubbed, whatever, no skin off my nose. Ghibli movies though I make an exception for, since usually the dub is at least tolerable and I’m all for supporting theatrical releases of anime. I’ve seen Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and now Arrietty dubbed.
Arrietty is the adaptation of the children’s book, The Borrowers. Borrowers are like tiny humans, maybe about 5 inches tall. They borrow (read: steal) things that they need and will not be missed, like a sugar cube, a sheet of tissue, etc. Not things like jewelry and the like. The number one rule is that Borrowers must not be seen. Once they are seen by humans, they must find a new home.
Arrietty is a young female Borrower who lives with her parents under a house. She is accidentally seen by a visiting sickly boy, Shawn, who proceeds to take great pains to try to befriend her, much to her family’s dismay. Shawn’s behavior attracts the attention of his caretaker (voiced marvelously by Carol Burnett), who begins to get suspicious and nosy.
This is pretty much the whole movie. It’s not deep or anything. It’s just about friendship crossing boundaries (my friend was worried there was going to be some weird romantic subtext, which given some anime, the idea is not as weird as it should be). The “bad guy” isn’t really all that bad, more weird and crazy than anything.
The movie though is gorgeous. The garden scenes with all the flowers and the doll house are simply beautiful. The attention to detail is amazing. They really wanted it from the perspective of teeny tiny people, and they kept things like physics and noises in mind. For instance, when the Homily (the mother) makes tea, as she pours the tea out of her teapot, it doesn’t pour. It comes out in big, slow drops because of the tiny spout opening, and water’s surface tension. Also the soundtrack is utterly entrancing and I hope it’s purchaseable (it is, but strangely all the songs have words added–don’t care! Bought it!). It has a very Celtic feel to it with lots of harp and woodwind.
I would like to watch the Japanese and British versions to compare the US dub job. For what it’s worth, I did think that Bridgit Mendler (Arrietty) and Carol Burnett (Haru) did a great job. David Henrie (Shawn) was less convincing for me and a tad bit annoying with his sleepy, slightly slow voice. The parents (Amy Poehler and Will Arnett) were ok, but sounded slightly stilted.
I already want to rewatch the movie just to see all the details I might’ve missed on first viewing. This is definitely going to be a future BD purchase for me.