Anime film adapts well for US audience - Collegiate Times : Lifestyle

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Anime film adapts well for US audience

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Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012 12:00 am

"The Secret World of Arrietty” comes from the well-respected Studio Ghibli that has made movies such as “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.”

All these films are hand drawn in the Japanese anime style. “Arrietty” provides a refreshing break from the usual computer-generated movies. Though it’s not the best movie Studio Ghibli has to offer, it is still entertaining.

I know little of the world of anime. My longest soiree with the anime genre was in 1997, when I’d wake up early before school to watch “Pokemon.” Obviously, I’m no expert, but I have seen a few Studio Ghibli films.

The expertly crafted stories and breathtaking animation truly places the studio in a league of its own. Walking into the theater to see “Arrietty,” I expected another masterpiece.

Similar to “The Borrowers” (1997), “Arrietty” follows a family of miniature people who live under the floorboards of a normal-sized human’s home. Arrietty and her parents sneak out each night to take small things that won’t be missed from the human’s house, such as sugar cubes, pins and stamps.

When a boy who has just moved in sees Arrietty, her family’s existence is threatened.

The plot from this point forward is pretty predictable — the pace is slow, and the dialogue is sparse. And although the movie is rated G, I wouldn’t take a child younger than 6 years old to see it. 

I’m pretty sure a child would probably find the gum under their seat more entertaining. For everyone older, “Arrietty” is a neat adventure into the world of people no bigger than a thumb.

From the first scene of a cityscape complete with cars and bustling people, I was in awe. It has been a while since I’ve seen a hand-drawn movie in theaters. The attention to detail was phenomenal. Each thing that moved on screen had a life of its own.

For instance, when a character rested his head against a pillow, the fabric folded in as naturally as any live action pillow would have. All the objects seemed to breathe. 

Even something as simple as a water droplet was made to look as viscous as jelly from the little people’s point of view. Imagine being able to hold a water droplet as big as a baseball in the palm of your hand.

Since “Arrietty” was originally released in Japan in 2010, the American voices are dubs of the original Japanese cast. Real life spouses Will Arnett and Amy Poehler voice Arrietty’s mother and father, respectively.

Poehler is perfect as the mother, playing up her neurotic behaviors. Unfortunately, the father’s character is more stoic, and Arnett’s humorous tone does not come through.

This was my first time seeing a Studio Ghibli film in theaters, and I have to admit I didn’t realize how badly some of the voices matched the characters’ lips. On a TV, it’s harder to see that the mouth movements don’t exactly mirror what the characters are saying. On the big screen, it’s quite obvious.

Given the fact that the film was originally in Japanese and the English dub was able to render the dialogue to fit the characters’ voices is a feat within itself, I gave the filmmakers a break. If you’re one to get distracted by something like this, you may want to steer clear of “Arrietty” while it’s in theaters.

I also highly recommend “Howl’s Moving Castle” or “Spirited Away” if you have not seen a Ghibli production. While “The Secret World of Arrietty” is fun, it lacks the complexity of the former films.

It’s not a waste of money to see it in theaters, but I’d aim for a matinee showing. After all, anime isn’t just for “Pokemon” masters.

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