Let me begin by stating that we love Hayao Miyazaki/ Studio Ghibli here. My oldest has thought Miyazaki was fabulous since the release of of Princess Mononoke. Both my big boys still say that Princess Mononoke is their favorite Miyazaki film. Duncan says his favorite is Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind. Mei likes The Cat Returns. Today, I think that I would have to say my favorite is Howl's Moving Castle, but that is subject to change without notice.
Even though he didn't direct Arrietty, the film really has quite a bit to it that feels like Miyazaki. After all it is a Studio Ghibli film with Miyazaki as a co-writer of the script and as an executive producer. The credits also list him as the planner. The animation feels like Miyazaki. Of course, the story is what Miyazaki took away from The Borrowers. Also, although he didn't take on the full responsibility of directing Arrietty, I think the director and crew must have respected his planning.
But, in addition to all this, something about David Henri's narration (sad, wistful, hopeful, but at the same time somehow just stating how it is) really felt like Miyazaki. I was concerned about David Henri narrating, because I identify him as the oldest child on Wizards of Waverly Place and because when I think of Miyazaki I think of story lines revolving around a female character, but David Henri nailed it. David Henri's narration that had me so concerned initially was so genuine and touching that by the end of the film it won Arrietty a spot as one of my favorite Studio Ghibli films.
(spoiler- Even though the film is titled The Secret World of Arrietty, the story is about the collision of Arrietty and Shawn's worlds and the impact it has on them both, but it is narrated by Shawn and really the ending ties up his story not hers.)
We saw Arrietty last night at the 11:30 show and had the theater to ourselves. The movie was fabulous- very touching. I liked it and definitely plan to purchase it.