Unlike the original novel, which tells a story about tiny people who "borrow" things from normal humans during the 1950's in Enland, Studio Ghibli have transferred their version to Tokyo Koganei in 2010 (Koganei is where Studio Ghibli is settled) and tell the story of 14-year-old little Arrietty (Chiisana Arriety was the films original title).
Yonebayashi earlier worked as a key animator on previous Ghibli works like Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo and Spirited Away and was animation director for Miyazaki Goro's Gedo Senki. Karigurashi no Arrietty will be his directing debut which is something he did not expect to happen (as told by Ghibli producer Suzuki Toshio earlier this week).
Suzuki Toshio, executive producer at Studio Ghibli and responsible for producing almost every one of their works, remembers Miyazaki Hayao bringing the project up around early summer 2008. "I was planning another project and we discussed which one to be selected for many times. Both of us didn't give up, but at last I paid respect to the elder and his plan was accepted," Suzuki noted.
"About 40 years ago this project was once considered by both Miyazaki and Takahata and Miyazaki suddenly recalled it and recommended me to read the book. He led me being strong-armed into accepting his idea. Perhaps he has a strong longing for their youth. Anyway, we often have this kind of trouble at Studio Ghibli. So why The Borrowers now? To that question, Miya-san in desperation answered "The situation of "karigurashi" (borrowing life) is very nice. It just fits to our present age. The age of mass consumption is ending now and the idea of "borrowing" proves the advent of it with depression. He immediately wrote down the project paper of the movie."