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The Secret World of Arrietty Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), English English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Run Time: 95 Mins.
  • Studio: Studio Ghibli/Walt Disney Studios
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 22, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

Studio Ghibli, the Disney of the East, has crafted another heartwarming fantastical animated journey in The Secret World of Arrietty (aka The Borrower Arrietty, 借りぐらしのアリエッティ, Kari-gurashi no Arietti). Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and written by Hayao Miyazaki from the Mary Norton novel The Borrowers, the film will at once be visually recognizable to anyone familiar with the works of Studio Ghibli, such as Spirited Away, or Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

A story of adventure and friendship set in the sunny summertime, Arrietty tells the tale of a group of tiny people known as “borrowers” who live in secrecy beneath the floorboards of a house. Living off of the humans around them for the things they need, they go on little expeditions through the home to “borrow” little things they need to survive that people might not miss – a sugar cube here, a sheet of tissue paper there.

One summer, when the sickly Sho arrives at his aunt’s house to spend the summer, he spots the rambunctious young borrower Arrietty in the garden as she is foraging for fresh herbs. It starts a forbidden friendship that puts Arriety and her entire family in danger when Sho’s housekeeper becomes aware of the tiny people’s existence as well.

Beautifully crafted and colorful animation pairs with the typically bittersweet and pie-eyed writing of Miyazaki in this story of young friendship, a theme well explored in many Ghibli films.

The Westernized, English dub features Disney Channel stars Bridgit Mendler and David Henrie as well as Carol Burnett, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett and Moises Arias.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

I cannot find fault with this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement of The Secret World of Arrietty by Disney. This is a flawless image with perfect detail, beautifully vivid colors, detailed line art and no sign of any artifacts whatsoever. Contrast is quite strong as well and the image seems filmic.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

I always prefer to watch my anime with the original Japanese language track, even if these Studio Ghibli releases do employ some rather big name Hollywood stars for their English-dubs. The lossless 5.1 soundtracks here are both good, with clean, intelligible dialogue and good voice acting. There isn’t much activity in the surrounds much of the time, apart from a couple of moments where a rainstorm fills up the room, and lows are mild until the musical soundtrack kicks in and then it pumps up a bit for extended, but tight, weightiness.

It should also be pointed out that selecting the English dub also results in a few differences in the film itself. English text replaces Japanese on some notes in certain frames and some other minor differences.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

There isn’t really anything on here that is required viewing. The storyboard version of the film is cool for people who like to see the production side of films, but everything else is rather promotional. There is a trailer for the forthcoming Diamond Edition of Cinderella on the disc as well as the Pixar film Brave, for those interested.

The supplements:

  • Original Japanese Storyboards (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 01:34:06) – View the entire film in storyboard form.
  • Trailers & TV Spots (1080p/24; 00:13:52)
  • Cécile Corbel – “Arrietty’s Song” music video (1.78:1; 1080i/60)
  • Bridgit Mendler “Summertime” music video (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
  • The Making of “Summertime” (1.85:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive World

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Charming and beautifully animated, The Secret World of Arrietty is a definite must for families. It’s fit for all ages with little to intimidate, scare, or stir controversy, yet it avoids being bland. Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com


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7 COMMENTS

  1. One question: Are the subtitles for the Japanese audio true subtitles (i.e. a literal translation of Japanese audio) or dub-titles (i.e. merely the text representation of the dub script)?

    Since the upcoming release of Castle in the Sky (Laputa) has been confirmed to use the same dubtitles as the Disney 2010 DVD release, this is something I need to know before buying Arrietty…

  2. Hi Svenge,

    Thanks for your comment. I do not believe them to be literal Japanese translations as, apart from the names (Sho, rather than Shawn, for example) they seem to line up almost identically to what is being said in English, but, truthfully, I only checked the English subtitles against brief snippets of the English Audio track, so I don’t want to say for sure.

  3. Perhaps you could tell me what the BD has for the first few lines of subtitles, then. I know someone with the Japanese release, and the first few lines on that are as such:

    I’ll never forget that summer.
    I spent a week in the old house where my mother grew up.
    Almost there. Feeling alright?
    Yes.

  4. Sure, I’ll have to pull it out this weekend and confirm. Just so you know, Whisper of the Heart, which I reviewed here, has the literal Japanese translation subtitles, but, as you already commented above, Castle in the Sky, I also confirmed, does not.

    Regards,
    Brandon

  5. @svenge I checked the disc again today and can confirm that it does indeed have the literal Japanese translation subtitles and not a straight transcript of the English dub. In fact, it does begin just as you quoted in your post above, as well. I hope that answers your question. :-)

  6. Thank you so much for confirming this! Thankfully I won’t have to import the Hong Kong release from IVL for Arrietty. I’ll still have to do so for Laputa, but I can’t do much about that…

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