It's a Small World After All
Arrietty and her parents live in the home of Aunt Sadako, not that Aunt Sadako knows as Arrietty and her parents are borrowers, tiny people who live beneath the floor boards and get by on what scraps humans leave lying around. They remain undetected because they live by one rule; humans must never see them. But coming to stay with Aunt Sadako is Sho, a teenager with a heart condition who on his arrival is convinced she saw something running through the undergrowth from the cat and is determined to find out exactly what it was.
So as you may gather "Arrietty" is the Studio Ghibli's version of Mary Norton's "The Borrowers", the tale of little people who are to blame for those things which go missing such as a sugar cube or a piece of tissue. Norton's book has been adapted a few times over the years and I will admit when I think of "The Borrowers" I see the version with Jim Broadbent and Flora Newbigin in the role of Arrietty. But the Studio Ghibli is different to the version I know and not just because it is an animation as it also has less comedy.
Now "Arrietty" is a Studio Ghibli animation and on one hand it has that look and style which many of us have come to expect from the animation house, which is detailed and frankly beautiful. But unlike some Studio Ghibli animations "Arrietty" has more of a classic style and doesn't have the surreal elements and characters of some of their movies. Whilst I know there are those who were disappointed by this more traditional approach it works for me as Norton's story of little people doesn't need those surreal elements.
I say that because "Arrietty" and "The Borrowers" has the creativity instead from Arrietty's father using sticking pads on his hands and feet to climb a table leg to the line of nails which run along a wall which Arrietty and her dad scamper along as they return home. Add to this all the background detail from an old watch being used as clock in the Borrower's kitchen to the cluttered nature of Arrietty's bedroom which makes it entertaining. It is this creativity which also makes up for the slow nature of this animation which is no hurry to go anywhere.
What this all boils down to is that "Arrietty" is another entertaining animation from Studio Ghibli with an almost classical looking adaptation of Mary Norton's story. That means whilst we have the pleasure of the animation style we also get the joy of the Borrowers' creativity which has always been a big part of the appeal of any of the adaptations of The Borrowers.