I can understand why Disney loves Studio Ghibli so much. Many of their epic films revolve around death and lack of parental units in the lives of youngsters, and Hayao Miyazaki quite often depicts a world where children are either without a mother and father, or are at risk of losing their mother and father. Like many of Studio Ghibli’s animated works, there’s an entirely vast and amazing world that many never explore unless they’re given that privilege.
Even in “Spirited Away,” our heroine is in a world that’s both fantastic and dangerous. With “The Borrower Arrietty,” we’re given a world that’s within our grasp. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi explores a hidden ecosystem within our own ecosystem, defining the very fragility of nature at our doorstep. The world Arrietty and the Clock family inhabits is a vast and dangerous land, but one normal sized humans typically take for granted. In fact, the Clock family have managed to learn to appreciate almost every minute detail about their own world, learning to take what they have and use until it’s absolutely finished. If anything “The Borrower Arrietty” is a beautiful exploration of the hidden treasures within our world, and how we’re mostly blind to its beauty.
The Clock family have spent their years learning how to live within walls, and go unseen. They take only a small portion, and live on the share for as long as possible, only venturing out in to the wilderness in desperation. When a young boy named Sho comes to live at his aunt’s house for vacation, and to cope with his fading health, he and the young Arrietty accidentally cross paths. Hearing about the legend of the borrowers from his superstitious aunt, he realizes Arrietty and her family are living within the walls, and the two form a pact allowing the pair to learn about one another and survive. Thus begins an unusual friendship and romance between the pair, as they form a bond that transcends their size.
Arrietty is one in the tradition of strong Ghibli heroines, as she longs to break from her father’s tutilage as a borrower, and learn to explore on her own and become the provider. Her friendship with Sho becomes a very important asset for her and her family, as she soon has to figure out a way to work around Sho’s aunt, who is convinced the borrowers are real, all the while facing the inevitability they will have to flee their longtime home and look for other rumored Borrowers living among the land. “The Borrower Arrietty” is a subtle and vey sweet adventure, and one that builds a vast and incredible micro-world that deserves more exploration. It’s yet another gem from Studio Ghibli.