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Arrietty – Hiromasa Yonebayashi interview


Interview by Rob Carnevale

HIROMASA Yonebayashi talks about his surprise at becoming the youngest director of a Studio Ghibli film and what appealed to him about Arrietty, an adaptation of Mary Norton’s The Borrowers.

Q. What made you decide to look to The Borrowers as the inspiration for Arrietty?
Hiromasa Yonebayashi: Mr. Hayao Miyazaki is the mastermind behind this project. In fact, he had wanted to adapt The Borrowers himself some 40 years ago. I am sorry to say that before Mr. Miyazaki asked me to direct this film. I have never read the original novels.

Q. What was the biggest animated challenge of this film?
Hiromasa Yonebayashi: From the eyes of the Borrowers, they can by all means notice the smallest details – small prickles around the leaves, bumps on a brick’s surface – so I believed that if we also paid attention and care to include such details, then a world that no ordinary person has ever seen can be visualized. How the water droplets were animated, the sound effects and photography, much effort was put in by our staff to create the world of the Borrowers.

Q. As with all classic animated films, this looks visually amazing but also has a very intimate and emotional story. Which themes resonated with you in particular?
Hiromasa Yonebayashi: At the beginning, Mr. Miyazaki had said: “Let’s make a heartrending story.” Then, considering that younger members were assembled for this project, I wanted to capture a beautiful world that is full of vigour, just like the fresh sprouts springing to life.

Q. Did you feel any pressure knowing that you were the youngest person to direct a film for Ghibli?
Hiromasa Yonebayashi: This is the first time for an animator of the studio to be directing a feature film, so I felt the pressure. I still do not understand why I was asked to direct this film. The producer Mr. Suzuki said he had offered me the job after hearing Mr. Miyazaki talk about my work on the last film Ponyo, whereas Mr. Miyazaki said he had a “hunch”.

Read our review of Arrietty