I went to see this film last night. As is usual for studio Ghibli films it was pretty much great. It was a cute kids movie without being cloying or leaving the lingering aftertaste of artificial sweeteners. At the same time it also kept from wandering into the soul crushing, entire box of kleenex affair, territory of some of the studio's other films.
Following their adaption of Diane Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle and Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea, we are treated to another foray of Studio Ghibli adapting western Fantasy fiction. This time, Mary Norton's The Borrowers, was the subject of the adaption. As with the previous adaptions it captures something of the spirit of the book. At the same time losing something due to shifting the setting to Japan, which to me, felt some what jarring. Though that likely was due more to the Dub (All animation is dubbed by the way, so don't tell me to watch the subtitled version) choosing extremely western names for a number of the characters. I just cannot see a Japanese boy having the name Sean, or his aunt being named Jessica. And at the same time the landscape was so unmistakably Japanese that I couldn't imagine the film being set anywhere else. These are minor quibbles, It wasn't distracting enough to keep me from enjoying the film.
This particular film was not directed by Studio head Hayao Miyazaki but it didn't suffer for it. It had all of the studio hallmarks, and was clearly part of a larger corpus of work stretching back to Nausica: Valley of the Wind. I really can't think of anything bad to say about the film. On the other hand I can't say that I liked it as well as I liked The Borrowers with Jim Broadbent, or the BBC television show with Ian Holm.
All in All, this being the first Studio Ghibli Film I've seen in Theaters since Princess Mononoke, I had a pretty good time. Disney for the most part does a really top notch job in the dubbing process and in bringing attention to these films. At the same time some of the localizations (such as the names) were jarring in ways that they wouldn't be if the entire movie had been localized (which it wasn't). If you haven't seen it, or if you have kids and want to show them a movie which has deep themes to it but won't leave them distraught or hyper active after they finish watching.. I recommend the movie.
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