‘Secret World’ opens friendship


Arrietty scamps through the lush spring garden, mindful of bugs and pushing each dew-speckled petal from her path in search of the perfect bay leaf for her mother. A fresh face towering above her soon halts her quiet morning errand.

In the delicately paced anime film “The Secret World of Arrietty,” an unlikely friendship develops from a risky encounter between two contrasting individuals from two conflicting worlds.

Arrietty (voiced by Bridget Mendler), no larger than a human’s thumb, lives under the floorboards of a quiet country home, digging into her first excursion as a “borrower.” A borrower takes objects that humans, referred to as “beans,” would not normally miss.

The film’s plot thickens when Shawn (voiced by David Henrie), a sickly teen staying with his aunt to receive treatment for an illness, first spots Arrietty on her morning romp through the garden.

This charming story, hand-drawn with painstaking realism, has a vibrant and fluid art style. Studio Ghibli’s traditional anime production provides a lively and detailed world full of flowers, forest creatures and large insects that pose a great threat for Arrietty. Even during the film’s most quiet moments, the art still captures the audience’s attention.

The film’s music also majorly contributed by adding depth to the handful of upbeat moments. French composer Cecile Corbel creates a warm, acoustic score that flows perfectly with the movie’s scenes.

Nature provides an ambience of its own, with crickets chirping, wind rustling through the trees and the pitter-patter of the rain adding a third dimension to the film’s charm.

Compared with the overarching calmness, however, the female characters in the film seem to have excessively dramatic personalities. Arrietty has a proud and confident personality unlike her mother Homily’s (voiced by Amy Poehler) apprehensive and worried character.

In contrast, male characters, such as Shawn and Pod (voiced by Will Arnett), Arrietty’s father, portray calm and understanding personas unlike the female characters’ prima donna personas, which are blown out of proportion.

In spite of the broad differences between characters, the theme of friendship prevails in the movie. Shawn and Arriety’s relationship is forged by her abject curiosity and his dire quest for bravery.