Studio Ghibli’s classics return to Blu-ray in partnership with GKIDS and Shout! Factory
Thanks to Shout! Factory, those purveyors of fine home video releases, film fans have been in for a treat this past month. In collaboration with GKIDS, they’re putting out brand new releases of revered Studio Ghibli classics. Check out our coverage of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Porco Rosso, and read on for the latest addition to the collection, The Secret World of Arrietty!
In a secret world hidden beneath the floorboards, little people called Borrowers live quietly among us. But when tenacious and tiny Arrietty is discovered by Shawn, a human boy, their secret and forbidden friendship blossoms into an extraordinary adventure. Featuring the voices of Bridgit Mendler and David Henrie and comedic all-stars Will Arnett, Amy Poehler and Carol Burnett, and based on the award-winning novel The Borrowers, The Secret World Of Arrietty will delight families of all sizes!
Arrietty is a tale that feels perhaps the most accessible of the Ghibli output, the most Westernized to put it bluntly. This is unsurprising, as it’s an adaptation of The Borrowers, a novel by British author Mary Norton. For those familiar with the books and perhaps even the ‘97 American adaptation, many aspects will feel very familiar and are inherent to the film’s charm. It’s all rather twee, with a quaint feel that gives the film a beguiling warmth that fits the story it tells, as well as a beautifully crafted aesthetic.
The titular “Borrowers” are a family of tiny people, living in secret, taking the things lost and set aside by people and using them for themselves. Young Arrietty lives with her mother Homily and father Pod; the latter has begun to teach her the ways of “borrowing.” His daughter’s inquisitive nature leads to her capture by a sickly child named Sho. A friendship struck soon stirs up trouble, as it gives housekeeper Haru the evidence she needs that these tiny people she alone thought were real truly exist. Her regard for them as pests soon threatens their very existence.
It’s an intimate movie, one lacking the sweeping epic nature of much of the Ghibli catalogue — the stakes are small…literally. But with its hook, the differences in scale imbue the film with a child-like awe. A tiny Arrietty is towered over by insects, flowers, and more, brought to life by some exquisite animation. It also follows Ghibli’s tradition of showcasing an engaging and interesting female lead. Arrietty is driven, inquisitive, resourceful, and just a little bit reckless. A wonderful audience surrogate to draw you in, her enthusiasm is infectious. While trouble in the film stems from her nature, it’s not portrayed in a negative light. Coming from a well rounded family, with the depiction of loving parents, the only real negative force in the film comes from the larger people who choose to not try and understand something new. As antagonists this is a perfectly serviceable aspect of the film, but where it’s true strength lies is in Arrietty’s journey. Its lessons about enjoying life, about pushing yourself, all while tempering those instincts as you mature, resonate in a truly disarming manner.
Shout! Factory continues the high standard set with their previous releases in this series. Vivid, bold colors, sharp detail; it’s a presentation that showcases the beautiful artistry of the film. Dubbed English and French versions of the film are included, as is a Japanese version with English dubtitles, in addition to the original English and French subtitle translations from the original Japanese version. The package contains both Blu-ray and DVD copies of the film. It’s again worth noting the price of these releases is FAR more competitive than past efforts, including the recent Disney releases. Special features include:
- Feature-Length Storyboards: A showcase of Hayazo Miyazaki’s own concept storyboards, shown in a way to flip between them and the final product. Gorgeous to look at.
- Original Theatrical Trailers
- Interview with Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Studio Ghibli maestro Hayao Miyazaki: A pretty lengthy featurette, with the pair sharing details on the adaptation of the books, as well as making the films. Lots of general detail but specifics too, which lend to a great appreciation for the task facing these storytellers and animators.
- Arrietty’s Song Music Video
- 8-Page Booklet with Producer’s Statement: Nicely produced booklet featuring stills from the film as well as a short piece from the director about his thoughts on the film.
The Bottom Line
The Secret World of Arrietty is a wonderfully charming film, Studio Ghibli spliced with a delightful British sensibility. A family friendly feature that gracefully weaves in themes of growing up, given an applaudable treatment by Shout! Factory.
The Secret World of Arrietty is available via Shout! Factory from Nov 21st.
GKIDS Is Releasing Acclaimed Studio Ghilbli Films Press Release:
Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, with distribution by Shout! Factory, will release several titles from the famed Studio Ghibli library of films! These movies will have significant upgrades. We can’t wait to watch them all! Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke come out today and Castle In The Sky and Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind will be released on October 31. The Secret World Of Arrietty and Porco Rosso will follow on November 21.