Over the weekend we took our kids to see The Secret World of Arietty. Krystal is a fan of Studio Ghibli, though I find their films to be largely hit and miss. In the absence of children I probably never would have bothered seeing Arietty myself. I didn’t find the trailers and commercials particularly interesting. My daughters friends invited us to go see it with them, however, so I bit the bullet and took them out to spend some time with their friends.

The plot is pretty much what you’d expect from the commercials. There are little people, who call themselves Borrowers, living inside, or rather underneath, the house of some humans. The humans find out and have mixed reactions ranging from curiosity to an outright need to destroy the little people viewing them as nothing more than tiny little thieves. Like all of Studio Ghibli’s films the pacing is pretty slow and it really takes a while for the story to get going strong. By the time you’re seriously invested in caring what happens next the film is pretty much over and you find yourself wishing they had jumped into things with some more action quicker. At one point they took the time to establish that rats are very dangerous and best avoided, even though Arietty is convinced she could defend herself against them with no trouble due to her newly acquired sword (A pin she picked up off the floor while traversing the interior of the house for the first time.) Problem is the confrontation never comes. You don’t see the rats again the whole rest of the film and they are only mentioned once more in passing by Arietty’s mother. A complete waste of an opportunity to punch up the early part of the film a little more, while also expounding on just how dangerous it is to be a Borrower. There are a couple other minor plot issues that will leave you scratching your head, but they’re just minor hiccups and don’t really take much away from the whole.

I’m not the best judge of animation, but it seemed good enough to me. The only thing that bothered me a little was during some of the panning shots the way foreground objects moved in relation to the background seemed a little jarring. The backgrounds could have used a little more motion to them as well, but a  lot of work goes into that sort of thing so I understand cutting corners a little and using static shots wherever possible.

In the end I’d chalk this up with the misses from my personal stand point, but the children were entertained and didn’t complain about being bored by the film so I guess that’s ultimately what’s important. If you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli films you probably won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for an engaging edge of your seat adventure, however, you’ll want to look somewhere else.