As expected from the creators of Spirited Away, The Secret World of Arrietty is another Studio Ghibli gem that would impeccably transport its viewers to the fantasy world. This movie has a highly sophisticated touch of moéness, attention to detail, simple yet endearing plotline, adorable characters, and superb musicality. And by the end of the movie, I felt like I magically travelled back in time where I used to believe that small people or the Borrowers exist.
The film is based on Mary Norton’s novel The Borrowers. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli managed to produce a charming and refreshing piece by laying out some of its signature anime features. Unlike the book, the story particularly focused on the 14 year old Borrower named Arrietty. Her family lives a very modest lifestyle and only “borrow” what’s necessary to survive. In order to stay safe, they must not be seen by the Beans or humans. If they get spotted, the Borrowers must leave and look for a different place.
However, what I truly enjoyed about this movie is how it unleashed my inner childhood and reminded me my fascination with fairy tales and everything that’s cute. I love how Miyazaki didn’t incorporate monsters and magical powers, but instead used Arrietty’s classy kawaii-ness and the enchantment of their small world.
By the end of the film it made me wonder, how come we get all moé and charmed whenever we see something cute and why having our own small world is like a dream? It may seemed so simple but it’s fascinating how these infinitesimal thoughts can unleash big ideas.
Now that I’m writing this, it’s funny to admit that my sudden expression if I like somebody or something is always you’re so cute or kawaii-yo. This is something that I carry over since I was a young girl. My objects of desire always allured me to keep them by myself—like hide them in my pockets. Thus, the thought of something cute gives us that towering and dominating feeling. And just like Shou, these things give us something that we can protect and treasure
Further, whenever we feel embarrassed don’t we just all want to hide or disappear? On the flip side, it might be inappropriate for me to say but don’t we love and find it cute whenever we embarrassed somebody—not in a bad way of course, but embarrassed enough for them to blush and say hazukashii-yo—then afterwards all we want to do is say hnggg and hug them.
Aside from that, I remembered when I was a kid I was so fixated with castle sands, doll-houses, puzzles, and stars. For instance, I love the fact how doll-houses can be so intricate yet occupy only minimum space. I enjoy looking at them as I get absorbed by the world that I could fully see. Hence, the idea of nearsightedness or closely focusing and everything graspable can fascinatingly spellbind us with the exquisiteness of microcosm.
As matter fact, nearsightedness inspired Mary Norton to write her novel. She admitted that as a child she used was to be myopic and this wasn’t diagnosed until she went to boarding school. Norton also confessed recalling her life before glasses made it easier for her to imagine a race of tiny people, living close at hand and among the ants.
Now come to think of it, when we were kids, it’s so easy for us to believe that we are bigger than the stars and they are just within our reach—a simple thought but huge in concept. For most, we can see how ideal the world is—everything cute and fancy.
This conquering feeling is what exactly brought me back in time when I used to see the world quite differently and used to pay attention to things close at hand. Plus, I came to a realization that our childhood selves are just like Arrietty—Borrowers avoid everyone, especially humans, except they’re own race—at some point of our lives—we tend to avoid everyone yet we’re so immensely curious to find out how this big world works.