Anime movies in U.S. theaters are typically released on so few screens that most major movie critics don’t review them. However, Studio Ghibli films, released by Disney and bolstered by Hayao Miyazaki’s 2002 Oscar win for Spirited Away, buck that trend. With a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the Ghibli film, The Secret World of Arrietty, has been held in higher regard than even a number of movies nominated for “Best Picture” at next week’s Academy Awards. On that note, I’m going to say it here – I believe Arrietty will receive a nomination for “Best Animated Picture” at next year’s Oscar’s.
With major reviewers having to sit up and notice Arrietty, an interesting subset of movie reviewers has likewise done the same: Christian/Catholic film critics. Not only do these critics focus on the quality of movies, many also discuss the moral implications of films – in fact, some emphasize the latter over the earlier. Last Friday, when Arrietty was released, I wrote a post on how Christianity Today gave the film a very positive rating, not something entirely expected. Don of Zoopraxiscope offered links to a few other reviews and with these in hand, I decided to select five major “Christian” review outlets and three “Catholic” ones, to see how they scored The Secret World of Arrietty.
Catholic News Service | Rating: Positive | Review
…this kid-friendly feature can be wholeheartedly recommended for all but easily terrified tots…
Christian Spotlight on Entertainment | Rating: Positive | Review
Visually rich and with moving depth, “…Arrietty” is a film for everyone.
Christianity Today | Rating: Positive | Review
But overall, it’s hard to find many family films so authentic, so earnest, so supportive of family, and so honest about life’s joys and hardships.
Crosswalk | Rating: Positive | Review
Give it a chance and it will enhance your sense of wonder. It might even make you feel like a kid again.
John C. Wright’s Journal | Rating: Positive | Review
I think every man should, upon reading these words, go get married, father a fourteen year old daughter, and take her to see this film.
Movieguide | Rating: Positive | Review
THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY is a visually engaging movie with a compelling story of friendship, family and the importance of human life.
National Catholic Register | Rating: Positive | Review
Watch The Secret World of Arrietty with your eyes open, and witness the secret world in which we all live revealed.
Plugged In (Focus on the Family) | Rating: Positive | Review
Through their whimsical meeting, these friends teach us that life can be difficult and filled with disappointment. But it’s also rich with friendship, adventure, family love and unexpected beauty.
Note that as with the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, “positive” in these instances can range from “ecstatic” to “barely recommended.” Still, I’m happy to see these Christian/Catholic sites review an anime film without immediately casting judgment. For instance, I assumed Movieguide, a very conservative site, would’ve given the film a negative review (though they did caution against the movie’s environmental message).
Even further, these reviews were generally as favorable or more so than those of typical, secular review sites. Though only a small sample, 100% of these reviewers recommended the film. And I think that when it comes to how Christians feel about anime, these reviews, along with the box office success of the film (it’s Ghibli’s biggest opening in the U.S. so far), only spell good news in terms of the openness in which the Christian community will approach future releases.