Directed by: 米林 宏昌 (Hiromasa Yonebayashi)
Written by: 宮崎 駿 (Hayao Miyazaki); 丹羽 圭子 (Keiko Niwa)
Produced by: 鈴木 敏夫 (Toshio Suzuki)
Other cast: Saoirse Ronan, Olivia Colman, Phyllida Law, Luke Allen-Gale, Mark Strong, Geraldine McEwan
Release date: 29 July 2011
Genre: Anime, Fantasy
Running time: 95 minutes
The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family’s residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their teenage daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.
A boy named Shō tells the audience he still remembers the week in summer he spent at his mother’s childhood home with his maternal great aunt, Sadako, and the house maid, Haru. When Shō arrives at the house on the first day, he sees a cat, Niya, trying to attack something in the bushes, but it gives up after it is attacked by a crow. Shō gets a glimpse of Arrietty, a young Borrower girl, returning to her home through an underground air vent.
At night, Arrietty’s father, Pod, takes her on her first “borrowing” mission, to get sugar and tissue paper. After obtaining a sugar cube from the kitchen, they travel inside a hollow wall to a bedroom which they enter through an intriguing dollhouse with working electric lights and kitchen utensils. However, it is Shō’s bedroom; he lies awake and sees Arrietty when she tries to take a tissue from his night table. Startled, she drops the sugar cube. Shō tries to comfort her, but Pod and Arrietty quietly leave and go home.
The next day, Shō puts the sugar cube and a little note beside the air vent where he first saw Arrietty. Pod warns Arrietty not to take it because their existence must be kept secret from humans. Nevertheless, she sneaks out to visit Shō in his bedroom. She drops the sugar cube on the floor, letting him know that she is there. Without showing herself, she tells Shō to leave her family alone and that they do not need his help, but they soon have a conversation, which is interrupted by the crow, who attacks Arrietty, but Shō saves her and Haru comes in and drives the crow away. On her return home, Arrietty is intercepted by her father. Realizing they have been detected, Pod and his wife Homily decide that they must move out. Shō learns from Sadako that some of his ancestors had noticed the presence of Borrowers in the house and had the dollhouse custom-built for them. The Borrowers had not been seen since, however.
Pod returns injured from a borrowing mission and is helped home by Spiller, a Borrower boy he met on the way. He informs them that there are other places the Borrowers could move to. While Pod is recovering, Shō removes the floorboard concealing the Borrower household and replaces their kitchen with the kitchen from the dollhouse, to show he hopes them to stay. However, the Borrowers are frightened by this and instead speed up their moving process.
After Pod recovers, he goes to explore possible new living quarters. Arrietty goes to bid farewell to Shō, but in the course of the conversation he suggests to her that the Borrowers are becoming extinct. Arrietty tells him fiercely that they will not give up so easily. Shō apologises that he has forced them to move out and 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. He believes that there is nothing he can do about it, saying that eventually every living thing dies.
While Sadako is out, Haru notices the floorboards have been disturbed. She unearths the Borrowers’ house and captures Homily. Alerted by her mother’s screams, Arrietty leaves Shō in the garden and goes to investigate. Saddened by her departure, Shō returns to his room. Haru locks him in and calls a pest removal company to capture the other Borrowers alive. Arrietty comes to Shō for help; they rescue Homily and he destroys all traces of the Borrowers’ presence.
On their way out during the night, the Borrowers are spotted by the cat Niya. Sleepless, Shō goes into the garden for a stroll, and the cat leads him to the “river”, where the Borrowers are waiting for Spiller to take them further. Shō gives Arrietty a sugar cube and tells her that her courage and the Borrowers’ fight for survival have made him want to live through the operation. Arrietty gives him her hair clip as a token of remembrance. The Borrowers leave in a floating teapot with Spiller.
The Disney international dubbed version contains a final monologue, where Shō states that he never saw Arrietty again and returned to the home a year later, indicating that the operation had been successful. He is happy to hear rumors of objects disappearing in his neighbors’ homes.
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 for children’s literature in 1953, and had already been adapted into two films and a TV series at the time. 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.
Arrietty earned $19,202,743 in North America and $126,368,084 in other territories for a worldwide total of $145,570,827. It is the fourth-highest-grossing anime film in the United States, and the highest anime film not based on a video game franchise.
Arrietty debuted at #1 in Japan, with more than one million people going to see the film during its opening weekend leading to an opening gross of 1.35 billion yen. Distributor Toho announced that as of August 5, 2010, the film managed to gross more than 3.5 billion yen and attracted more than 3.7 million viewers.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 95% based on 150 reviews, with an average rating of 7.65/10.
The story takes place in 2010 in western Tokyo’s neighborhood of Koganei. Koganei is also where Studio Ghibli is located.
7.5 million saw this movie in theatres in Japan, an all-time record for a movie with a first time director.
In the Borrowers’ home, they have three cups with playing card symbols (heart, diamond, and club). The only symbol they do not have is the spade, which in many cultures is considered to be bad luck.
At thirty-six-years-old, Hiromasa Yonebayashi was the youngest person to direct a movie for Studio Ghibli.
French singer Cécile Corbel, a big fan of Studio Ghibli’s movies, had sent the studio her second album as a gift back in 2009. Producer Toshio Suzuki listened to it, was seduced, and thus decided to hire her to compose the score.
Nervous at the idea of directing this movie, Hiromasa Yonebayashi initially always sought Executive Producer and Writer Hayao Miyazaki’s advice and opinions. He eventually realized he was on a journey he should face alone when the time came to draw the storyboard, and Miyazaki congratulated him for it.
There are two English dubs. There is a British English dub distributed by StudioCanal released in 2011 in the United Kingdom and the Disney dub in the United States released in 2012. The StudioCanal dub is almost universally recommended over the Disney dub.
The fourth feature film from Studio Ghibli to not be directed by Executive Producer and Writer Hayao Miyazaki or studio co-founder Isao Takahata.
Executive Producer and Writer Hayao Miyazaki began the development stages in July 2008. His original plans included a run time of eighty minutes and this movie to be titled “Chiisana Arrietty” (Little Arrietty).
The U.K. version featured Geraldine McEwan’s final performance as the voice of Haru.
The last Studio Ghibli anime film to have the english dub distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, before GKids took over and Shout Factory became the American/Canadian distributor.