The latest Studio Ghibli animated feature to make it to America, The Secret World of Arrietty has the same beautiful and elegant craftsmanship expected of all their films, even though this one was written and supervised — but not actually directed — by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki.
It won’t be out in U.S. theaters until February 17, but I had the chance to see the version dubbed for American audiences a short time ago, and I loved it. The Secret World of Arrietty has all the polish of a classic Miyazaki film, but is closer in plot and characterization to classic American animated films, so may be more accessible to U.S. audiences than most Japanese animated films. Based — somewhat loosely — as it is on Mary Norton’s classic Borrowers children’s novels, the film may in fact seem somewhat familiar to American kids. See the trailer below.
I very much hope it will succeed, as it has the potential to become a classic of the genre. The dubbed American voices of Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, and Carol Burnett (among others) fade seamlessly into the film as though it had been made with them in mind.
The only thing I don’t love about the film is its title, which I’m afraid may not resonate with American audiences because of the unfamiliar name “Arrietty” (which is taken from the Borrowers, but still isn’t exactly a commonly-heard name). But it has the weight of Disney’s marketing behind it, so let’s hope it finds the audience it deserves.