The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great animation

The story could be stronger

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Secret World of Arrietty

Studio:  Studio Ghibli

Genre(s):  Animated/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Family

Release Date(s):  July 17, 2010

MPAA Rating:  G


Don’t even think about it cat!

Arrietty and her mother and father live in the walls of a remote country home.  When a young boy named Sho (or Shawn in the American version) comes to the cottage to rest up for a dangerous lifesaving heart surgery, Arrietty accidentally makes herself known to him.  When Borrows are seen, they must move and now Arrietty learns that her actions might have upset her entire family.  When one of Sho’s caregivers takes an interest in Sho’s behavior, the family’s plans to move might not be soon enough.

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, The Secret World of Arrietty (as it was released in the United States by Disney) was also called simply Arrietty or The Borrower Arrietty (借りぐらしのアリエッティ Kari-gurashi no Arietti).  The movie is based on the 1952 novel The Borrowers by Mary Norton which developed into a series of books (and other adaptations).  The movie was met with positive reviews.



Previously Yonebayashi had worked on films by Hayao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and Spirited Away), and Yonebayashi’s work is almost identical to those films.  This is a plus because Miyazaki (who served as one of the writers of the screenplay) has such great attention to detail, and a story about little creatures that live in a world with the debris of the “human bean” world needs great detail.

As a result, the film looks great.  The setting is lush and Arrietty’s world is bright and dripping with life (which also provides an interesting contrast to the “big” world of Sho).  The rich colors and landscapes provide a strange English countryside feel to a Japanese picture which gives the movie a bit of a strange feel at points.


I hate it when you have little people in your walls…they are so hard to get rid of.

I do rather enjoy the story of the Borrowers because like most kids, I thought it would be fun to live in the playsets of my Masters of the Universe and Star Wars toys.  The Borrowers get to do that.  I of course grew up with the Borrowers rip-offs The Littles (John Peterson’s 1967 book) because of the Saturday morning cartoon series so it always is a struggle to remember that The Borrowers came first.  The movie however just kind of feels like a long episode of the Littles with more of an adventure of Arrietty than the story of Arrietty…I wouldn’t mind seeing a second film sometime.

The Secret World of Arrietty is a nice anime film that treats viewers with some great animation.  The story is pretty strong, but could be developed more, but I can forgive it.  It is the type of film I think a kid would enjoy because there are some tense moments but it never really felt to me that Arrietty and her family were ever in any real danger (though I did worry about Sho as we were intended to) so watch it with kids and enjoy.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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