The Secret World of Arrietty Review

The Secret World of Arrietty Review

The Secret World of Arrietty anime movie cover art
The Secret World of Arrietty

The Life of a Borrower

The Secret World of Arrietty (Karigurashi no Arrietty / 借りぐらしのアリエッティ) is a fantasy movie by Studio Ghibli. You know, the kind of anime movie Ghibli is generally known for. But, this is one you might not be familiar with.

Everyone’s heard of Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. Those are the “big four” when it comes to Ghibli movies. And, that makes sense considering they’re not only good but quite a bit older than Arrietty.

The Secret World of Arrietty only came out in 2010. You probably know those other movies from your childhood. This one is too new for that. Well, actually maybe not. At this point, there are a lot of kids who grew up watching 2010s movies. However, I’m a bit too old for that — as are the majority of my readers.

Arrietty and Pod exploring from the anime movie The Secret World of Arrietty
Arrietty and Pod exploring

Alright, enough about that. What’s Arrietty about? It’s about tiny people who live in your walls and steal your stuff. Though, if you asked them, they’d say they were “borrowing” things you wouldn’t miss — like a single cube of sugar. Since they aren’t ever returning these things they take, I wouldn’t call that borrowing.

But, you’d normally never get the opportunity to ask them anything. They make sure to stay out of sight. If one is seen by a human, they pack up their things and move. Why? Because some people view them as pests and oddities. They don’t want to get exterminated or put in a zoo.

Now, I can understand feeling that way if your home is overrun by these “Borrowers.” What if there are only a few, though? Because they’re so small, you wouldn’t have to drain your finances to support them. And, other than their size, they’re normal people like you and I.

Arrietty’s Big Adventure

You know the trope. When the main character is small, they have to go on a “relatively” big adventure. Think of the Hobbits traveling across Middle Earth to Mordor. Arrietty’s adventure isn’t as big as that. But, she goes out of the comfort zone of most Borrowers in a big way.

Arrietty isn’t as afraid of humans as her parents are — specifically her mother. In fact, Arrietty takes more risks than you’d expect, in general. She’s not afraid to go outside and forage in the garden despite the wildlife. And, she couldn’t wait to be allowed to go exploring the house with her father.

If her family needs or wants something that’s risky to get, Arriety doesn’t think twice about searching for it. That’s the kind of person she is. She likes the thrill of adventure. However, that doesn’t mean she wants to leave home.

Arrietty outside in the garden from the anime movie The Secret World of Arrietty
Arrietty outside in the garden

Think of it this way, Arrietty likes exploring, but she never attempts to leave the property. Why? Shouldn’t someone like her want to go out and explore the wider world? Well, she has her parents to think about. She’s not going to go on a grand adventure that would leave her parents behind.

In that sense, I guess Arrietty is similar to me. I like hiking on trails I haven’t been on before and exploring. But, I also like my explorations to come to a conclusion within a day. Going for a day hike up a mountain? Great. Camping out overnight? No, thank you.

Anyway, the adventure aspect of this movie is something I really liked. In the first half, we get to explore the world with Arrietty. We see how she and her father navigate the house and how their size changes everything. That’s the best part.

Shou and the Little People

If the best part of Arrietty is the world exploration, what’s the worst part? That’s pretty easy. It’s Shou. Shou is the male lead of the movie. But, unlike Arrietty, he’s not a Borrower; he’s a human.

Shou was sent to live with his great aunt Sadako in the countryside due to an unnamed illness. We know he has a heart condition, but I’m not sure how being in the country is supposed to help with that. Usually, in stories like this, the child has asthma or something that clean, country air can help.

Why is Shou bad, though? Is he the villain of the story? No, that’s Haru, Sadako’s maid. Shou’s bad for two main reasons. The first is how he spoke to Arrietty the first time they talked to each other. And the second is that there’s an uncomfortable romantic thing between him and her.

Arrietty talking to Shou from the anime movie The Secret World of Arrietty
Arrietty talking to Shou

How does Shou speak to Arrietty when they first meet? He tells her that she’s part of a dying species and that soon the Borrowers will be extinct. That’s pretty mean. But, what makes this bad is that he then apologizes and says he’s lashing out at her because of his illness.


His reasoning is that because of his heart condition, he doesn’t think he has long to live. So, that fear of dying is what made him say mean things to Arrietty. But, that’s terrible writing. His explanation made no sense and it came out of nowhere.

Then, of course, there are some weird romantic feelings between Shou and Arrietty. In most other movies, this would be fine. But, Arrietty is literally the size of one of Shou’s fingers. There’s not any explicit romance. However, their relationship still felt very uncomfortable — closer than friends.

Final Thoughts

I gave The Secret World of Arrietty a 7/10. It’s a good movie, and much better than I expected it to be. I hadn’t heard of it before it was suggested for this month’s Discord movie night event. And, none of us in the server had seen it before. So, I thought it would be a Ghibli flop.

That turned out not to be the case. So, if you’re a Ghibli fan and you haven’t seen Arrietty, I’d recommend giving it a try. It might surprise you.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting at the Heika tier this month. And, I’d like to thank Rob and Pepe for supporting at the Kouhair tier. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out

Discord Community

Discuss anime, manga, and more with our members!

Join Server

Discover more from DoubleSama

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Leave a Comment