The Secret World of Arrietty appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a consistently solid transfer.
Sharpness seemed positive. A few wide shots showed a smidgen of softness, but those instances were rare. Instead, the majority of the flick portrayed fine clarity and accuracy. Jagged edges and moiré effects appeared absent, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. In regard to print flaws, I witnessed none, as the movie looked clean and fresh from start to finish.
Arrietty opted for a low-key but fairly natural palette. The tones tended to favor greens and earth tones, and they held up well; across the board, the colors appeared warm and full. Black levels looked solid, with appropriately dark and rich material. Low-light images were concisely displayed and tight, with no excessive opacity. Overall, Arrietty gave us a fine presentation.
The Blu-ray also came with a positive DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Though oriented toward the front, the soundfield appeared pretty engaging and active. The forward speakers offered very good placement and localization. Effects cropped up in logical spots and meshed together well, with some nice movement and panning. Some speech came from the side speakers, and those bits were well placed. Music showed good stereo imaging as well, and the forward channels generally presented a fine soundscape.
The surrounds bolstered the presentation well. The rear speakers kicked in with good ambience and provided a strong feeling of atmosphere. Occasional examples of more surround specific information occurred, and those created a fine sense of the setting. The rears weren’t consistently involving, but they added enough to the mix to make them effective.
Audio quality appeared good. Speech sounded distinctive and concise, with no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Effects appeared dynamic and lively. They showed full, rich tones, and presented loud and firm bass response. Music sounded warm and vivid. This wasn’t a killer soundtrack, but it added to the presentation.
Note that Arrietty included both the movie’s original Japanese soundtrack as well as its English dub. The disc delivered both via DTS-HD MA mixes, and I thought that other than the dialogue, both seemed identical. I flipped between them as I watched the film and didn’t notice any differences in terms of soundscape or audio quality. (The two do come via alternate video streams, though, as the US version changes some of the text to be read in English instead of Japanese.)
Don’t expect a lot of extras here, though the first is pretty substantial. Under Original Japanese Storyboards, we essentially get a story reel version of the film. This lasts one hour, 34 minutes and six seconds as it matches final movie audio with storyboards.
The program’s length is a strength and a weakness. On one hand, it’s cool to be able to see storyboards for literally the entire film, and the semi-animated format makes them more involving than thousands of still frames would’ve been. We also can follow the boards with either English or Japanese audio.
On the negative side, though, the presentation comes with one notable omission: the ability to easily compare the boards to the final film. Why not place the end product in the bottom right corner of the screen so we can view it alongside the boards? That’d have made a good feature significantly more useful, I think. Still, it’s hard to complain about such a wealth of storyboards, so fans should like this extra.
Two Music Videos appear. We get “Arrietty’s Song” from Cecile Corbel (3:40) and “Summertime” by Bridget Mendler (3:01). The video for “Song” is a snoozer; it’s just mimed performance footage from the studio, so it lacks anything to make it interesting. I can’t say the New Agey song does much for me, either.
As for “Summertime”, it’s a more creative video but still not especially good. It mixes movie footage with some lip-synch shots of Mendler as well as a few elements that posit her as a Borrower. We only get a few shots of that last conceit, so they don’t add much to the proceedings; it’s mostly standard “song from a movie” fare. The song is also lackluster Disney teen pop and it doesn’t fit the world of Arrietty at all.
For a look behind the scenes of the video, The Making of ‘Summertime” goes for two minutes, three seconds. It features comments from Mendler; she tells us a little about the song and the shoot of the video. Mendler delivers minor details but doesn’t offer much information in this brief, promotional piece.
The disc opens with ads for Brave and Cinderella. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with clips for Austin & Ally, Secret of the Wings, The Aristocats, The Rescuers and Planes. In addition, we find a whopping 27 trailers and TV spots for Arrietty. They fill 13 minutes, 52 seconds and all exist to promote the film’s Japanese release. They’re good to see, but it’s too bad we don’t see ads for the UK and US versions as well.
A second disc provides a DVD copy of Arrietty. This delivers a standard retail DVD version of the film.
Although I doubt I’ll ever fully embrace the pleasures of anime, I like The Secret World of Arrietty more than expected. It takes a classic children’s tale and creates an effective, involving version of the story. The Blu-ray comes with excellent picture and very good audio. It doesn’t include a ton of supplements, but fans will like the feature-length collection of animated storyboards. The Blu-ray brings the movie to home video in fine fashion.