The Secret World of Arrietty known in Japan as The Borrower Arrietty (借りぐらしのアリエッティ Kari-gurashi no Arietti) and in the United Kingdom as Arrietty, is a 2010 Japanese animated fantasy film by Studio Ghibli, based on Mary Norton's juvenile fantasy novel, The Borrowers. The film was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, and written by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa. The film tells the story of Arrietty, a young Borrower who lives under the floorboards of a typical household. She eventually befriends Sho, a human boy with a heart condition, who is living with his great aunt Sadako. When Sadako's maid Haru becomes suspicious of the floorboard's disturbance, Arrietty and her family must escape detection, even if it means leaving their beloved home.
Ghibli announced the film in late 2009 with Yonebayashi making his directorial debut as the youngest director of a Ghibli film. Miyazaki supervised the production as a developing planner. The voice actors were approached in April 2010, and Cécile Corbel wrote the film's score as well as its theme song.
Released in Japan on July 17, 2010, The Secret World of Arrietty received critical acclaim, all of whom praised the animation and music. It also became the highest grossing Japanese film at the Japanese box office for the year 2010, and is currently grossing over US$126 million worldwide. The film also won the Animation of the Year award at the 34th Japan Academy Prize award ceremony. The film was released on February 17, 2012 in North America by Walt Disney Pictures.
The story takes place in 2010 in Koganei, western Tokyo and like the novel revolves around a group of "tiny people" who are 10 cm tall and live under the floorboards of a typical human household.
A boy named Shō arrives at the house his mother lived in as a child, to live with his great aunt Sadako. When Shō leaves the car, he sees a cat trying to attack something in the bushes, but the cat leaves after being attacked by a crow. Shō goes to see what the cat was trying to attack. He then sees a Borrower named Arrietty.
That night Arrietty's father Pod takes Arrietty above the floorboards to show her how he gets sugar. Their first stop is the kitchen, then they walk within a wall to reach a dollhouse in Shō's bedroom, to get tissue. Before Arrietty and Pod can leave, Arrietty notices Shō is awake, and accidentally drops the sugar cube they got. Shō tells them not to be afraid of him.
The next day, Shō leaves the dropped sugar cube beside an underground air vent where he first saw Arrietty, but Arrietty's mother Homily warns them not to take it because their existence must be kept secret from humans. Still, Arrietty sneaks out to visit Shō in his bedroom, and the two become friends. On her return, Arrietty is intercepted by her father. Pod and Homily realize they have been discovered, and decide the family must move out of the house.
Shō learns from Sadako that his ancestors have seen Borrowers in this house, and they had the dollhouse made especially for the Borrowers, with working electric lights and ovens. However, the Borrowers had not been seen since, and the dollhouse stayed in Shō's room. Shō uncovers the floorboards above the Borrower household, uproots their kitchen and replaces it with the kitchen from the dollhouse.
Pod returns injured from a borrowing mission, helped by Spiller, a Borrower boy he met on the way. Spiller suggests some places the Borrowers can move to, and, after he recovers, Pod goes to check them out. Arrietty goes to say goodbye to Shō. During their subsequent conversation Shō theorises that the Borrowers are becoming extinct, which hurts Arrietty. Apologising, Sho reveals he has had a heart condition since birth, and will have an operation in a few days. The operation does not have a good chance of success.
Meanwhile Haru, Sadako's maid, notices the floorboards have been disturbed. While Sadako is out, Haru locks Shō in his room, unearths the Borrowers' house and puts Homily in a jar in the kitchen. Haru calls a pest removal company to smoke out the Borrowers and bring them to her alive. When Arrietty returns to find Homily missing and their house disturbed, she goes to Shō for help. Arrietty helps Shō break out of his locked room, Shō then carries Arrietty to the kitchen and distracts Haru while Arrietty rescues Homily. Sadako returns soon after the pest removal company comes, and tells them to leave. Haru tries to prove to Sadako the Borrowers really exist, but Homily has escaped, and there is nothing below the floorboards: The Borrowers have already set off on their move, and Shō has destroyed the remains.
The Borrowers stop for dinner during their move, and Shō's cat spots Arrietty. The cat brings Shō to Arrietty. He gives her a sugar cube as a parting gift, and tells her the Borrowers' fight for survival has given him hope to live through the operation, which will happen in two days' time. In return, Arrietty gives Shō her hairclip. The Borrowers then go into a teapot, which Spiller steers down a river.
- Mirai Shida as Arrietty (アリエッティ Arietti?): A 14-year old borrower who lives with her parents under the floorboards of Shō's house. In the English versions, Arrietty was voiced by Saoirse Ronan in the United Kingdom dub and by Bridgit Mendler in the United States dub.
- Ryunosuke Kamiki as Shō (翔?, known as Shawn in the United States version): A 12-year old human boy who becomes Arrietty's friend. He meets Arrietty in the house his mother was raised in, while awaiting heart surgery. Shō is based on "The Boy". In the English versions, Shō was voiced by Tom Holland in the United Kingdom dub and by David Henrie in the United States dub.
- Shinobu Ōtake as Homily (ホミリー Homirī?): Arrietty's mother who has a liking for luxury. In the English versions, Homily was voiced by Olivia Colman in the United Kingdom dub and by Amy Poehler in the United States dub.
- Keiko Takeshita as Sadako Maki (牧 貞子 Maki Sadako?, known as Jessica in the United States version): The younger sister of Shō's grandmother. Sadako is based on Great Aunt Sophy. In the English versions, Sadako was voiced by Phyllida Law in the United Kingdom dub and by Gracie Poletti in the United States dub.
- Tatsuya Fujiwara as Spiller (スピラー Supirā?): A tiny bow-wielding boy who helps Arrietty's family move. In the English versions, Spiller was voiced by Luke Allen-Gale in the United Kingdom dub and by Moisés Arias in the United States dub.
- Tomokazu Miura as Pod (ポッド Poddo?): Arrietty's father who often borrows in order to provide for the family. In the English versions, Pod was voiced by Mark Strong in the United Kingdom dub and by Will Arnett in the United States dub.
- Kirin Kiki as Haru (ハル?): Sadako's maid who is determined to find the truth behind "little people". Haru is based on Mrs. Driver. In the English versions, Haru was voiced by Geraldine McEwan in the United Kingdom dub and by Carol Burnett in the United States dub.
On December 16, 2009, Studio Ghibli announced Karigurashi no Arrietty as their film for next year. This film is based on the novel The Borrowers by the British writer Mary Norton. The novel won the Carnegie Medal in 1953, and had been adapted into three English animated films. Studio Ghibli founders Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki had been contemplating an adaptation of this novel for around 40 years.
The director of the film was announced as the animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi on the same day. Hiromasa Yonebayashi was one of the animators for the Studio Ghibli films Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo, and Spirited Away. He was also the reserve director for the film Tales from Earthsea. Miyazaki was announced as the production planner for the film.
The Japanese voice cast of the film was announced on April 13, 2010. Actress Mirai Shida was cast as the voice of Arrietty. Arrietty was Shida's first voice acting role. In addition, Ryunosuke Kamiki, who has voiced characters in other Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, was cast as Sho. His most recent voice role was in the 2009 film Summer Wars. Kamiki said that he "was very happy to meet up with the staff" he previously knew when he worked on other Studio Ghibli films.
Besides them, the film’s cast includes Tomokazu Miura, Shinobu Otake, Keiko Takeshita, and Kirin Kiki. The four actors have previous voice acting experience, but none of them have been in a Studio Ghibli film before. Miura and Otake were respectively cast as Arrietty's parents Pod and Homily. In addition, Takeshita voiced Sho's aunt and Kiki voiced one of the helpers in the human family.
Cécile Corbel composed the score and sang the theme song for Arrietty.
The film score of The Secret World of Arrietty was composed by French (Bretonne) musician Cécile Corbel. Corbel also performed the film's theme song, "Arrietty's Song", in Japanese, English, French, German and Italian.
Corbel became known to Ghibli filmmakers when she sent them a fan letter showing her appreciation of their films, together with a copy of her own album. After hearing the album of her music she had sent them, they thought they should collaborate with her for the music of this film. The song made its public debut in a presentation of the song by singer Corbel and percussionist Marco in Apple's store in Shibuya, Tokyo, on 8 August 2010.
Some of the Japanese theme songs for this film, including "Arrietty’s Song" was first released online through the iTunes Store, mora and Musico on December 19, 2009. Subsequently, the official album containing all of the theme songs of this film was released on July 14, 2010. The album's listing on the Oricon charts peaked at the 31st position. Separately, the song "Arrietty’s Song" was released as a singles album on April 7, 2010. This singles album peaked at the 18th position on the Oricon charts.
The Secret World of Arrietty was first released in Japanese cinemas on July 17, 2010, by Japanese film distributor Toho. The film was officially released at a ceremony attended by the film's cast and Yonebayashi. Corbel performed the film's theme song at the event. In addition, Yonebayashi hinted that he wanted the film to beat the record of over 12 million audiences set by previous Studio Ghibli film, Ponyo. The film was screened in 447 theaters throughout Japan during its debut weekend.
It was later dubbed into French and was released in France as Arrietty, le petit monde des chapardeurs, on January 12, 2011. In the United Kingdom, the film was released on July 29, 2011 by Optimum Releasing. It is also scheduled to be released in the United States on February 17, 2012, by Walt Disney Pictures. The North American version of The Secret World of Arrietty was directed by Gary Rydstrom, produced by Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy and written by Karey Kirkpatrick. The English trailer was shown with Puss in Boots, Tower Heist, In Time, The Muppets, New Year's Eve, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I, The Adventures of Tintin, The Darkest Hour, The Artist, and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.
The Secret World of Arrietty was released in both Blu-Ray and DVD formats within Japan. The DVD version of the film consists of two discs in the region 2 format. The Blu-ray version consists of a single disc in the Region A format. Both versions were released in Japan on June 17, 2011, and both contains English and Japanese subtitles.
The Secret World of Arrietty debuted at the first position in the Japanese box office. More than 1 million people went to see the film during its opening weekend. It also grossed around 1.35 billion yen that weekend. In comparison, this film's opening week gross is 85.6％ of Ghibli's previous film Ponyo's total gross and 82.9% of Ponyo's total ticket sales. Distributor Toho announced that as of 5 August 2010, the film managed to gross more than 3.5 billion yen and attracted more than 3.7 million viewers. According to the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, The Secret World of Arrietty is the top grossing Japanese film in their box office for the year for 2010; it grossed approximately 9.25 billion yen.
In France, the film was well received by the public. More than 100,000 people went to catch the film on its debut week in France, allowing the film to gross more than US$1.4 million that week. Overall, ticket sales for Arrietty, le petit monde des chapardeurs in France totaled just shy of 740,000 between its release on January 12, 2011, and March 1, 2011. It also grossed a total of US$7,010,476 at the French box office. The Secret World of Arrietty went on to gross a worldwide total of US$126,368,084.
The Secret World of Arrietty received universal critical acclaim since its release in 2010. 100% of the 21 reviewers selected by Rotten Tomatoes as of November 2011 have given the film positive reviews, certifying it "Fresh" with an average rating of 7.6/10.
Cristoph Mark of The Daily Yomiuri praised the film, saying that the film is "likely a perennial favorite among children. He particularly liked the film effects, which he described as "Drops of water loom large and drip like syrup; the ticking of a clock reverberates through the floor and the theater's speakers; tissue paper is large and stiff...", adding that these effects gives the audience "a glimpse into their own world, but from a different perspective". Mark Schilling of The Japan Times gave the film a rating of four out of five stars, and said that the film "speaks straight to the heart and imagination of [everyone]." Schilling also praised the film's animation, saying that [Studio Ghibli animators] are past masters at creating the illusion of presence and depth without [3-D effects]. However, he also said that some scenes in the film "threatens to devolve into the sappy, the preachy and the slapsticky" but noted that these scenes were "mercifully brief".
Steve Rose, the reviewer for The Guardian gave the film four out of five stars and praised the film, describing it as "a gentle and entrancing tale, deeper and richer than more instantly gratifying fare.". Rose also described the film as "the slow food of the animation world.". However, he did note that this film "doesn't match previous hits such as Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke in terms of epic scale or adult appeal", even though it bears many of their hallmarks: bright, detailed animation..." . Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter gave a positive review of the film. She said that the film "remains essentially a film for children". Young later went on to say that the relationship with Sho and Arrietty "touches the heartstrings with gentle yearning", and praised Yonebayashi for its direction. In the opening remarks made by David Gritten of The Telegraph, he said that the film was "ravishingly colourful and textured". He also praised the animation, saying that "animation doesn't get better than Arrietty." Gritten gave the film a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.
Year Award Category Result Recipient 2010 Animation of the Year 34th Japan Academy Prize Won The Secret World of Arrietty
The Secret World of Arrietty was adapted into a Japanese manga series. This manga adaptation was first published by Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co., Ltd. within Japan, and was released in four separate volumes. It was also announced that Viz Media will be releasing the English version of this manga adaptation of the film within North America in January 2012.