I didn’t become a fan of Japanese animation until I was in college, (my mom forbade me to watch Sailor Moon as a kid because she thought it was sexist) and while I’m not a huge fan of anime/manga, I'm in love with the Studio Ghibli films. Co-founded by genius writer/director/animator Hayao Miyazaki, the studio won an Oscar for Best Animated Film in 2003, with Spirited Away. If you didn't catch that flick, you may have seen the amazing Ponyo, Princess Mononoke, or My Neighbor Totoro. New York's IFC Center just finished a weeks-long Ghibli retrospective, treating audiences to these sweet, clever, relentlessly imaginative, and wonderfully wise films. They're also packed with female protagonists that defy stereotypes and always end up saving the day.
On February 17, Disney is releasing an English-dubbed version of The Secret World of Arrietty, based on Mary Norton’s The Borrowers book series. (How’s that for a childhood triple whammy?) As you may remember, the story's about tiny people who live under our floorboards and “borrow” small items from our houses. The main characters are a 14-year-old “borrower” named Arrietty and a 12-year-old human boy called Shawn. Some might balk at watching a dubbed version of a foreign film, but this version is packed with some serious vocal star power. Arrietty's parents are voiced by none other than Amy Poehler and Will Arnett, and the human housekeeper is comedy legend Carol Burnett. We can't be more amped.
Watch the Arrietty trailer below, and if you haven’t experienced Studio Ghibli before, throw a bunch of their films on your Netflix list and have a marathon, because girl, you’ve got some catching up to do. You will not regret it.
Image: movie poster of "The Secret Life of Arrietty," taken from disneydreaming.com.