This is going to sound unbelievable but believe it, this is the best Ghibli movie I've ever seen. It was absolutely charming in every respect, the story was darling, and oh the scenes! Ever since I was a little girl I had a fascination with The Borrowers stories, this really exceeded my expectations.
Although I've never actually read the story itself, it doesn't mean I can't give this a proper review.
The story is, in the opinion of an avid anime watcher and critic, wonderful. The story follows a week in the life of Arietty the borrower and a boy with a heart condition named Sho. The story itself is close to flawless, and the ending leaves you wanting more.
The animation is beautiful. Colourful backgrounds accopanied by close to flawless movement. Everything is detailed in a way that you will be in awe throughout the entire film. At least, that's how I was :P
Now, I'm not the best person to be judging sounds here, but from what I've heard, it's great. The music literally brought me to tears at one part (accompanied by the appropritae scene of course). The music composition is great and I'm sure many who've watched this can agree.
The characters, even though only a weeks time has passed throughout the story, go through a lot of development. Sho ges from being depressed to being ready for life at it's fullest, while Arietty goes from a lonely teen with family commitment to well.... I couldn't really figure out her motives at the end. (sorry)
Overall, this is a great movie that any anime enthuthiast will love. Even those who aren't can find something like about this movie.
This is the first Studio Ghibli film I've seen since Spirited Away, and I can see they still haven't lost their touch. What's best known about Ghibli is their animation style and production quality, to which Karigurashi no Arrietty is yet another prime example of. It's a film adaptation of Mary Norton's novel The Borrowers, and not based on the family comedy The Borrowers starring John Goodman! The overall tone of this movie isn't as "intense" as others by this studio, but that just means it's of a different genre and should be graded as such.
Story (9/10): The story opens up with a boy, Sho, and his great Aunt, Sadako, heading towards the boy's mother's childhood home. Sho is ill and is staying with his great Aunt for the time being. Upon reaching their destination, Sho happens to see what seemed to be a small girl traversing down a plant's stem with leaf in hand.
Thus begins the intertwining relationship between two would-be friends that will prove itself from Arrietty's sheltering family, Sho's family's past, and a certain someone's ill-intentions. The film is a great Slice-of-Life story with a great continuous plot that sheds light on the daily life and hassles of a Borrower and what must be done for them to survive. A great ending only wraps up what could be a continuing story, but I feel it should be left the way it was. The only reason I'm not giving it a perfect 10 is because it felt a little bit short, or rather, missing something. Basically, I feel it ended too quickly with something to be desired left alone.
Animation (10/10): Ghibli once again does not disappoint. Regarding animation, they are one of the best and well-known studios, as per their rap sheet. Having made so many other fantasies, I'm sure the story of The Borrowers piqued their interest and I'm glad it did. I can't wait for Ghibli's next production, for I'm sure it will be just as good, if not, better.
Sound (10/10): Right from the beginning you hear background music that goes really well with the aura of the introduction, and it plays a couple more times throughout the film. The seiyu are perfect in this film. Ryunosuke Kamiki, who played Sho, had also played in major roles for other Ghibli works. Oddly enough, the English dub will be having two different sets of voice actors (British and American English). Personally, however, if I were to watch one of the two, it would be the British version, since I love Saoirse Ronan as I loved her in City of Ember and The Lovely Bones. Last but not least, the sounds of the animals and nature were done well too.
Characters (9.5/10): Despite being something as short as a movie, the character developments were well near perfect. You learn everything necessary to understand everything in the plot. I love Sho's personallty, which really helps build their sentimental relationship and helps them see eye-to-eye. Sadako, Sho's great Aunt, reveals their own family's past, as well as their present situation (regarding his parents). Arrietty has a somewhat silence about her that allows you to easily read her, well done by Ghibli, which also reveals how she feels and thinks about certain subjects. Her family shows just how energetic and caring they are to her as well throughout the story. The ending is great and seemingly perfect as the two main characters, Sho and Arrietty, say their goodbyes and wish each other the best ahead of them. And to make a continuous ending, they added at the very end a romantic subplot between Spiller and Arrietty (as it's made so obvious as he gives her a berry while looking away, thus showing shyness in giving a gift--if that's not a "I like you" gesture then I give up on anime), which makes for an assumption of a joyous life ahead.
Overall (9.625/10): Karigurashi no Arrietty was, once again, a great film by Studio Ghibli that was a great enjoyable watch on a rainy afternoon. Every factor they hit with near perfect marks and I definitely want my friends to see it as well. I hope this review was helpful and hopefully not too spoiler-filled (I'm working on trying to not add spoilers in my reviews).
Watch/buy this as soon as you can! Look for it in theatres February 17, 2012 (USA) and August 26, 2011 (UK)!
Personal Nostalgic Value
EDIT(6/24): Formatting; spelling
EDIT(8/15): Spoiler Content reduced
Another one of Studio Ghibli's amazing, adorable, and worth-watching films. This story involved a sick human boy and a little fairy-sized being. The whole story, overall, was very charming, the ending scene was decent but a little tear-dropping. In my opinion, this was one of Ghibli's best movies.
Charming is the ultimate word to describe this film. And from a Studio Ghibli film I don't think you would expect anything more, it isn't high on emotions like some of the studios previous efforts, but it has an extreamly like-able female lead in Arrietty and some of the best use in music I've seen from an anime, the music and soundtrack really up the experience and soely thanks to the music it offers very memorable scenes. Bottom line is I LOVE THIS FILM - more in video review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRLyg96W0oc