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The Secret World of Arrietty

Character: Shô (UK version, voice)

Created by: The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Directed by: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Written by: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa

Produced by: Toshio Suzuki

Cast Members: Saoirse Ronan, Olivia Colman, Phyllida Law, Luke Allen-Gale, Mark Strong, Geraldine McEwan

Released date: July 29, 2011 (UK)

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family

Duration: 1h 34min

The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family's residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.



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A boy named Shō tells the audience he still remembers the week in summer he spent at his mother’s childhood home with his maternal great aunt, Sadako, and the house maid, Haru. When Shō arrives at the house on the first day, he sees a cat, Niya, trying to attack something in the bushes but it gives up after it is attacked by a crow. Shō gets a glimpse of Arrietty, a young Borrower girl, returning to her home through an underground air vent.

At night, Arrietty’s father, Pod, takes her on her first “borrowing” mission, to get sugar and tissue paper. After obtaining a sugar cube from the kitchen, they travel inside a hollow wall to a bedroom which they enter through an intriguing dollhouse with working electric lights and kitchen utensils. However, it is Shō’s bedroom; he lies awake and sees Arrietty when she tries to take a tissue from his night table. Startled, she drops the sugar cube. Shō tries to comfort her, but Pod and Arrietty quietly leave and go home.

The next day, Shō puts the sugar cube and a little note beside the air vent where he first saw Arrietty. Pod warns Arrietty not to take it because their existence must be kept secret from humans. Nevertheless, she sneaks out to visit Shō in his bedroom. She drops the sugar cube on the floor, letting him know that she is there. Without showing herself, she tells Shō to leave her family alone and that they do not need his help. On her return, Arrietty is intercepted by her father. Realizing they have been detected, Pod and his wife Homily decide that they must move out. Shō learns from Sadako that some of his ancestors had noticed the presence of Borrowers in the house and had the dollhouse custom-built for them. The Borrowers had not been seen since, however.

Pod returns injured from a borrowing mission and is helped home by Spiller, a Borrower boy he met on the way. He informs them that there are other places the Borrowers could move to. While Pod is recovering, Shō removes the floorboard concealing the Borrower household and replaces their kitchen with the kitchen from the dollhouse, to show he hopes them to stay. However, the Borrowers are frightened by this and instead speed up their moving process.

After Pod recovers, he goes to explore possible new living quarters. Arrietty goes to bid farewell to Shō, but in the course of the conversation, he suggests to her that the Borrowers are becoming extinct. Arrietty tells him fiercely that they will not give up so easily. Shō apologizes that he has forced them to move out and reveals he has had a heart condition since birth and will have an operation in a few days. The operation does not have a good chance of success. He believes that there is nothing he can do about it, saying that eventually, every living thing dies.

While Sadako is out, Haru notices the floorboards have been disturbed. She unearths the Borrowers’ house and captures Homily. Alerted by her mother’s screams, Arrietty leaves Shō in the garden and goes to investigate. Saddened by her departure, Shō returns to his room. Haru locks him in and calls a pest removal company to capture the other Borrowers alive. Arrietty comes to Shō for help; they rescue Homily and he destroys all traces of the Borrowers’ presence.

On their way out during the night, the Borrowers are spotted by the cat Niya. Sleepless, Shō goes into the garden for a stroll and the cat leads him to the “river”, where the Borrowers are waiting for Spiller to take them further. Shō gives Arrietty a sugar cube and tells her that her courage and the Borrowers’ fight for survival have made him want to live through the operation. Arrietty gives him her hair clip as a token of remembrance. The Borrowers leave in a floating teapot with Spiller.

The Disney International dubbed version contains a final monologue, where Shawn states that he never saw Arrietty again and returned to the home a year later, indicating that the operation had been successful. He is happy to hear rumors of objects disappearing in his neighbors’ homes.


Shō is a sick boy who has a rheumatic fever and needs medicine, which is given by his aunt Sadako Maki. He has heart conditions that cause him to not be able to do what other boys at his age do.

At the beginning of the film, he and his aunt are on their way to her home for him to relax and be in peace as he has an operation in a few days, but he believes that it is hopeless until he meets Arrietty.

Sho is shown to be quiet and very polite. However, he is initially listless and pessimistic about his operation as he has no will to live, thinking that every living person will die eventually and he also has a low chance of survival from the operation.

This changes when he meets Arrietty, he is inspired and amazed by her perseverance and strong will in rescuing her mother and thus gains the will to live on. It is shown in the very beginning of the film that he survives the operation as he is reminiscing the time he met Arrietty.


Budget: $23,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend USA: $6,446,395, 19 February 2012
Gross USA: $19,587,032
Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $149,184,563


The critic’s consensus from Rotten Tomatoes says that the film is “Visually lush, refreshingly free of family-friendly clatter, and anchored with soulful depth, The Secret World of Arrietty lives up to Studio Ghibli’s reputation.95% of 150 critics rated it positively, that being 142 rating it fresh and only 8 rotten; the average rating is 7.65/10. For the audience score, out of +61.000 ratings, it has 85% out of 100%, giving it 4.07/5 stars.

On Metacritic, based on 28 critics, it has 80% out of 100%, 26 critics calling it positive, 2 are mixed, and 0 negatives. And the user score, based on 255 ratings, gave it an 8.1/10, with 220 users calling it positive, 30 mixed, and 5 negatives.


  • The story takes place in 2010 in western Tokyo’s neighborhood of Koganei. Koganei is also where Studio Ghibli is located.
  • Executive Producer and Writer Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata had considered adapting the novel for the past forty years.
  • Seven million five hundred thousand people saw this movie in theaters, an all-time record in Japan for a movie with a first time director.
  • In the Borrowers’ home, they have three cups with playing card symbols (heart, diamond, and club). The only symbol they do not have is the spade, which in many cultures is considered to be bad luck.
  • At thirty-six-years-old, Hiromasa Yonebayashi was the youngest person to direct a movie for Studio Ghibli.
    French singer Cécile Corbel, a big fan of Studio Ghibli’s movies, had sent the studio her second album as a gift back in 2009. Producer Toshio Suzuki listened to it, was seduced, and thus decided to hire her to compose the score.
  • There are two English dubs. There is a British English dub distributed by StudioCanal released in 2011 in the United Kingdom and the Disney dub in the United States released in 2012. One year after the Japanese release and the StudioCanal dub is mostly recommended.
  • Nervous at the idea of directing this movie, Hiromasa Yonebayashi initially always sought Executive Producer and Writer Hayao Miyazaki’s advice and opinions. He eventually realized he was on a journey he should face alone when the time came to draw the storyboard, and Miyazaki congratulated him for it.
  • The fourth feature film from Studio Ghibli to not be directed by Executive Producer and Writer Hayao Miyazaki or studio co-founder Isao Takahata.
  • Directorial debut of Animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi.
  • A raccoon from Pom Poko (1994) appears at the end of the movie when Arrietty and her parents leave the house.
  • Executive Producer and Writer Hayao Miyazaki began the development stages in July 2008. His original plans included a run time of eighty minutes and this movie to be titled “Chiisana Arrietty” (Little Arrietty).
  • This is Tom Holland’s and Saoirse Ronan’s first project together.


Arietty: I have to go. When is your operation?
Shô: The day after tomorrow. I’m going to be okay. You gave me the courage to live.
Arietty: [Unclipping the pin from her hair & giving it to Shawn] For luck.
Shô: Thanks.
Arietty: [Now crying] You protected me after all.
Shô: Arrietty…
Arietty: I hope you have the best life ever. Goodbye.
Shô: Arrietty, you’re a part of me now. I’ll never forget you, ever.

Shô: You came back. Wait, don’t go.
Arietty: Please, leave us alone. I wanted to tell you that.
Shô: I want to talk to you.
Arietty: Human beings are dangerous. If we’re seen, we have to leave. My parents said so.



Year  Award  Category  Results 
 2011 Awards of the Japanese Academy  Best Animation Film  Won
 2011 Tokyo Anime Award  Animation of the Year  Won
 2011 Tokyo Anime Award  Best Art Direction  Won
 2011 Tokyo Anime Award  Best Director  Won
 2011 Tokyo Anime Award  Best Music  Won
 2011 Tokyo Anime Award  Notable Entry  Won
 2012 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards  Best Animation Film  Nominated
 2012 Golden Trailer Awards  Golden Trailer  Won
 2012 Golden Trailer Awards  Best Anime Trailer  Won
 2012 Golden Trailer Awards  Best Foreign Animation/Family Trailer  Won
 2012 Golden Trailer Awards  The Don LaFontaine Award for Best Voice Over  Won
 2012 Golden Trailer Awards  Golden Trailer  Nominated
 2012 Golden Trailer Awards  Best Foreign Animation/Family Trailer  Nominated
 2012 Italian Online Movie Awards  Best Animated Feature Film  Won
 2013 International Cinephile Society Awards  Best Animated Film  Won
 2013 MovieGuide Awards  Best Film for Families  Nominated
 2013 Online Film Critics Society Awards  Best Animated Feature Nominated



Big thanks to Studio Ghibli for the information on Tom’s Character

Script developed by Never Enough Design