Friday, April 13, 2012

Arrietty (2010), Hiromasa Yonebayashi

This review will be critically analysing Japanese animated movie "Arrietty" directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. It is one of those famous studio Ghibi movies and its screenplay writer is Hayao Miyazaki himself. This review is based on Jeffrey M. Anderson's, MaryAnn Johanson's and Aaron Hillis' reviews.

Figure 1

Watching this after mind blowing "Akira" and "Paprika" adventures "Arietty" seems to be the most serene and innocent anime ever. Differently then the first two this one is made for a whole family and it is beautiful and easy experience. Based on Mary Norton's first series of fantasy novels "borowers" audience gets this weird clash of English and Japanese cultures. Aaron Hillis from "Village Voice" notices that: "Within the Ghibli catalog, director Hiromasa Yonebayashi's delicate debut (the English-dubbed version is credited to Gary Rydstrom) is an underplotted, near-humorless trifle, but in contrast to the shrill, saccharine CGI cartoons—live-action included—that pass for family entertainment today, it's pure magic." (Wednesday, Feb 15 2012). In other words this film version is better then others indeed, but almost all the time it felt slightly out of space. The environment was mainly Japanese, but for some reason English Dubbing actors had a very strong British accent. It seems that it would be more reasonable to make it either absolutely Japanese or English and in this case probably the whole action should have stayed in England anyway, but again, since it was created in Japan for Japanese audience in the first place it is possible to understand the decision and not dubbed Japanese version probably did not had this problem. MaryAnn Johanson from "Flick Filosopher" Noticed the same problem: "voice cast was British and Irish (Mark Strong, Saoirse Ronan). I was not overly thrilled with it. It’s entirely possible that the U.S. version, with a U.S. voice cast (Will Arnett, Bridgit Mendler) -- which I have not seen -- would make me feel differently, but it’s hard to see how." (Feb 18 2012)

Figure 2

Besides that it has something wrong with the dubbed versions and it is a flat take on Mary Norton's novels it is hard to find something else interesting to talk about. Jeffrey M. Anderson says that: "The movie conjures many magical moments, ranging from a crow stuck in a window screen to a tubby, short-tailed cat forever stalking the little folks, and an awe-inspiring first glimpse of a beautiful dollhouse." (San Francisco Examiner, 02/16/12) and just like anyone else can see that it is very beautiful and magical, but is it exciting or thriling in anyway? No. The only more interesting thing about it was that when audience is taken to the borrower's perspective not only thing, but also all sounds scale enormously.

Figure 3

All in all this movie is a bit of a disappointment knowing other creations of studio Ghibi like "Princess Mononke". It is hard to say if even children would actually like this. It is one of those movies that grown ups would think that children should like it, because it is so beautiful and peaceful, but in fact that is the reason why most of them would get bored really quickly. "Arrietty" has this weird passiveness and ironically cold characters just like a lot of Disney movies.


1) Aaron Hillis (Village Voice, Wednesday, Feb 15 2012):

2) MaryAnn Johanson (Feb 18 2012)

3) Jeffrey M. Anderson  (San Francisco Examiner, 02/16/12):


1) Main Villain:

2) Beutiful Environments:

3) Poor sick boy:

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