Tag Archives: Studio Ghibli

Three-Word Review of ‘The Secret World of Arietty’

Ninety-minute haiku.


Captions don’t count: In many ways, “The Secret World of Arietty” is the exact opposite of its Studio Ghibli predecessor, “Ponyo.” Both animated films are visually wondrous, as you’d expect from Hiyao Miyazaki’s studio (motto: “Bet You Ten Bucks You Can’t Notice Every Detail We Hand-Painted Into the Background of Our Movies”). But whereas “Ponyo”’s plot went far over the top (a 7-year-old boy must commit to forever loving his fish-girl friend in order to, you know, save the world from, like, bad magic or something), Arietty’s action is almost smaller than the characters who carry it out. The entire story can almost be expressed in the stillness of a tiny haiku: "Sick boy rests in bed/Espies tiny Borrowers/Must they now move? Yes." I realize that kind of smallness is exactly what Miyazaki and Co. intend, and many reviewers find it precious. Honestly, my kids and I found it a little *too* small. It’s not like I can’t appreciate such quiet, languid storytelling. I even prefer the inertia of this movie to the equally small “My Neighbor Totoro,” a movie I generally liked. (Haiku plot: "Girls see camphor tree/Lazy nature gods live there!/Where's Mei? Cat finds her.") It’s just that I’m a bit picky about my perfect balance for a Miyazaki, the right blend of arresting visuals, grand action and show-me-something story. Guess it’s time to go watch “Princess Mononoke” again.

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