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Right after I finished watching 'The Secret World of Arrietty' I wanted to watch it again. It was such a peaceful, calming experience that it was good to get away from the usual high-flying, butt-kicking world that modern day American cartoons inhabit. It's nice to sit back and just let the spectacular animation wash over you. With demo-quality video and near-perfect audio this disc is a winner. Sure, the special features package is sparse at best, but the rest makes this a highly recommended release.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Was there really any doubt that this would be anything less than demo material? Disney's 1080p release of 'Arrietty' is a wonder to behold in high-def. Disney are masters of transferring animated movies to Blu-ray which is a good reason that they're doing the Studio Ghibli titles. The animation is so rich and vibrant that it really must be curated by the best in the business so it's in tip-top shape when it hits Blu-ray. That's the case here.
The entire movie, from beginning to end, hasn't one single flaw. The beautiful, hand-drawn animation, has sharp and distinct lines. However, many of the backgrounds take on a watercolor feel. The marriage between the sharp, defined animated figures and the slightly more abstract backgrounds works perfectly here. There isn't one line out of place, or one color that isn't saturated perfectly. Ever color appears with an effervescent pop on screen. Blacks are decidedly dark and inky.
The image is clean and free from any artifacts one might happen to run into. There isn't one grain of dust or one errant speck that pops up during the whole film. Along with being stunningly elegant the transfer is also technically proficient. You can't ask for much more than that. Disney has done it again.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
There are two main options here. First is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English track which features the voices of recognizable actors like Will Arnett, Carol Burnett, and Amy Poehler. Then there is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Japanese track, which is my preference. I simply don't really like the English dubbed versions of Studio Ghibli releases.
I did switch back and forth through the different tracks after I had finished watching the entire movie with the original language track, and I can say that besides the voices being changed, the two tracks are virtually identical. Sound effects and music have the same clarity and fidelity on both tracks. When it comes down to it, it's simply a matter of personal preference.
As for the technical aspects of the mix, I'm here to say that it's just about as impressive as the picture-perfect video transfer. The one thing you'll notice is that even though the movie is light with on screen action, the rear channels are still alive with naturalistic sounds – birds chirping, rain drops splattering, and cats purring – that add subtle realism to the mix. Dialogue is always clear and concise. Creaking wood floors echo with astonishing clarity. LFE is used judiciously. Whenever big events happen and we see it from Arrietty's view point low rumbling bass usually gives us a feeling of what it would be like to hear human footsteps only being four inches tall. It really is a great, all-encompassing sound mix that fans are sure to enjoy.
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