Arrietty: Special Edition (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 7-Nov-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-Full theatrical plus teasers
TV Spots
Storyboard Comparisons-Picture-in-Picture
Music Video-Cecile Corbel
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Over 1 Hour
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 94:04
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Madman Entertainment
Starring Saoirse Ronan / Bridgit Mendler
David Henne / Tom Holland
Mark Strong / Will Arnett
Olivia Colman / Amy Poehler
Geraldine McEwan / Carol Burnett
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Cécile Corbel

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English-British DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Alternate Audio DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Japanese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action and credits immediate.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio, gave us its first feature film in 1986, and to date have seventeen films to their credit. Some of the outstanding Ghibli entertainments that have delighted audiences worldwide are Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), Howl's Moving Castle (2004) - once seen never forgotten - Ponyo (2008) and the most recent From Upon Poppy Hill (2011). In 2010 the studio produced Arrietty, a film that is so entertaining, delightfully wise, uplifting and gorgeous to look upon it should be seen by everyone, particularly every pre-teen child you know.

    Arrietty is a fantasy directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the youngest director to be entrusted with a Ghibli production. Contained within the fantasy world created on screen we have the story of a dual struggle for survival, a struggle by a family and by the people they belong to. Within that family we also have a coming-of-age tale of a young girl, as well as the growth of wisdom in a boy from an alien society. Based on The Borrowers, the work of English children's author Mary Norton, we are introduced to the world of  "the borrowers", tiny people who live in the walls and under the floorboards of the houses of human beings - referred to as "beans" by the little people. These little people exist by borrowing whatever they need from the humans,  borrowed  on dangerous excursions into the human world. On these clandestine, nocturnal expeditions the borrowers are always careful to remain unseen, for if  borrowers are seen by the humans, they must move to a new home. The film opens with a reminiscence by  Shawn, a young adult human,  who tells us that he "will never forget that Summer (he) spent a week in the old house where (his) mother grew up". Shawn is bed-ridden, awaiting a serious operation, and is being cared for by his great aunt. One day the pet cat is playing in the garden and this leads to Shawn's discovery of the existence of a fourteen-year-old girl borrower, Arrietty. The two children, from two different worlds, become friends, but she of course must keep this friendship concealed from her parents for fear of putting her family in peril. However, the suspicions of the crusty housekeeper are soon aroused. It is revealed that Shawn's mother, when a girl, discovered the existence of the little people under the floor, and had a doll's house built to try and entice them out into the open. This doll's house is still in Shawn's room, and becomes part of the developing plot.

    To go into too much detail of this plot would detract from the fascinating charm of the film. There is excitement, humour, adventure, pathos - all the ingredients for an involving and emotional movie experience. I cannot imagine any sensitive adult failing to be totally captivated by the film, and children will LOVE it. I would say especially young girls, but there are also two boys in Arrietty's life, one from each world, to help any young males in the audience feel involved in the action. In addition to Shawn, there is an adolescent boy borrower, a hunter who becomes very important to the story. The music, as well as the theme song, is written by Cecile Corbel and totally enhances the mood and action of the fim. The whole thing looks absolutely magnificent. Overseas reviewers have called the image on this disc "perfect", and I have to agree. There are gorgeous colours, and not a blemish in sight to detract from the superb animation. This was the top grosser in Japan in 2010. That says something very positive about Japanese audiences.

    One distinct plus for this new special edition release of Arrietty is the fact that we get the choice of the UK dubbed version or the US version. The slick for our release lists the voice cast for the principal roles, with half from each version. Closer examination reveals that there are three soundtracks on the disc, the Japanese as well as the two English language versions. The two equally excellent casts are :

Arrietty : Bridget Mendler (US), Saorise Ronan (UK)
Shawn : David Henne (US), Tom Holland (UK)
Mother : Olivia Colman (UK), Amy Poehler (US)
Father : Mark Strong (UK), Will Arnett (US)
Housekeeper : Geraldine McEwan (UK), Carol Burnett (US).

I thoroughly enjoyed every member of the American cast, particularly Carol Burnett. The real-life husband and wife comedy duo Will Arnett and Amy Poehler give beautifully restrained performances. I also watched most of the film a second time with the English cast, which gave a subtly diffrerent experience, but is no less effective.

    Arrietty is a filmgoing experience to be treasured. It is uplifting and compassionate, with a beautifully constructed plot and well developed, rounded characters. This is film with a message, but a message contained within a package that is superb entertainment and most beautiful to see.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    As stated in the body of my review, this disc is perfection..
    Presented at the original ratio of 1.85:1, the 1080p image is a stream of magnificent, faultless images. It is like having the most magnificent picture book open in front of you, with every page stunning in its clarity, colour and composition. The colours are subtly muted, but every shade of the spectrum is there on the screen. The detail is superb, and this extends into the darker scenes when the world of the borrowers becomes more dramtically charged. This is simply, a fabulous, perfect transfer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This disc contains three audio streams, all DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. These are the English UK Version, the English US Version and the original Japanese with subtitles.

    The disc provides a beautiful, totally immersive auditory experience. The dialogue is beautifully clear and precise, and there is extensive movement of voices across the front soundstage, and even into the rears. The surrounds are employed extensively for appropriate action, effects, particularly eerie noises in the house at night, and general ambience. The score from Cecile Corbel, including Arrietty's lovely theme song, is a major feature of the film, and is beautiful, beautifully reproduced and spread around the complete soundfield.

    With the bonus of two separate English soundtracks to choose from, simply opt for your accent of  choice, sit back and let this wonderful sound experience engulf you.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The film related extras are limited to a collection of talking head interviews - plus the storyboards.


    The menu is presented over a montage of scenes from the film accompanied by audio of subtle, mysterious sound effects from the film. Options presented are :

                Play Feature

                Scenes : There are two strips each of twelve thumbnailed chapters, totalling twenty-four.

                Setup : Options here offered are :

                                                                      Audio : UK English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

                                                                                   US English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

                                                                                   Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

                                                                                   English subtitles are accessible from the UK or Japanese audio.

               Special Feaures : Storyboards
                                            Music Video
                                            Interviews with the makers and UK voice cast 
                                            Original Japanese Theatrical Trailers
                                            English Language Theatrical Trailer
                                            TV Spots
                                            Studio Ghibli Collection Trailers


    The entire film is here storyboarded. For those who are interested it is possible to have the storyboard drawings for every scene in an insert screen, bottom right-hand corner, as you watch the film. The drawings are sketchy, with the only colour an earth-hued shading.

Music Video : Arrietty's Song (3:38) :
Presented in HD,  this clip has a chosen grainy, monochromatic look. The song is lovely, as is the vocal and harp playing performance of Cecile Corbel.

Interviews :

    All interviews are HD, captured by a static camera, with title cards for questions - except for Geraldine McEwan, with the questions asked, almost inaudibly, off camera. The voice cast members interviewed are from the UK version. Those interviewed are :
Hayao Miyazaki (23:52) :
    Here we have one of Japan's greatest animators who has worked either as writer or director on numerous feature films. The subtitled interview interestingly covers the choice of director, the youngest ever entrusted with a Ghibli feature, and the artistic problems and clashes that arose. Also interesting are his comments on the low status of the animator in Japan.
Hiromasa Yonabayashi (40:47) :

    The director reveals himself to be an extremely gentle and sensitive young man. Starting with Ghibli as a clean-up artist on Princess Mononoke, he expresses his genuine surprise at being asked to direct Arrietty. The lengthy, but mostly interesting interview, reveals genuine passion for the book and its themes.
Voice Cast :
    These interviews are mostly rather pedestrian, with the obvious questions asked, and the expected answers given in response. The standout is young Tom Holland,  who has played the lead in the stage musical Billy Elliott and is getting rave reviews for The Impossible in which he plays the son of Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. The boy shows genuine warmth, sincerity, inteligence and sensitivity while discussing his participation in Arrietty. He is a most impressive young man. Saorise Ronan seems rather bored, Mark Strong is obviously knowledgeable about the book , and Olivia Colman is genuine and sincere. Those interviewed are
Tom Holland (5:45),  Geraldine McEwan (5:54), Saorise Ronan (3:24), Mark Strong (2:52) and Olivia Colman (4:44).

Original Japanese Theatrical Trailers (8:07) :
All presented in HD, we first get the lengthy full theatrical trailer followed by a handful of teasers.

English Theatrical Trailer (1:45) :
Again presented in HD.

TV Spots (5:18) :
    These, too, are 1080p and, like the above, comparable to the quality of the film itself.

Studio Ghibli Collection Trailers (4:21) :
   Here we are given trailers for Totoro, Laputa and Ponyo. Although these are also 1080p the quality is very inferior, with the image extremely fuzzy.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The local Madman release is the one, as we get the interviews, from the UK release, plus the added bonus of the US soundtrack.


   Arrietty is a rare and beautiful experience. Not only do we get a wonderfully entertaining and dramatic story, but  we are uplifted by the wisdom and heart in the telling. Created by superlative talent, every frame of this film is a work of art. The interviews are generous, but rather pedestrian - except the storyboarding. But the film is the thing, and in every regard that is magnificent.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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