Suffering from frequent asthma attacks, young Anna Sasaki is quiet, unsociable, and isolated from her peers, causing her foster parent endless worry. Upon recommendation by the doctor, Anna is sent to the countryside, in hope that the cleaner air and more relaxing lifestyle will improve her health and help clear her mind. Engaging in her passion for sketching, Anna spends her summer days living with her aunt and uncle in a small town near the sea.
One day while wandering outside, Anna discovers an abandoned mansion known as the Marsh House. However, she soon finds that the residence isn't as vacant as it appears to be, running into a mysterious girl named Marnie. Marnie's bubbly demeanor slowly begins to draw Anna out of her shell as she returns night after night to meet with her new friend. But it seems there is more to the strange girl than meets the eye—as her time in the town nears its end, Anna begins to discover the truth behind the walls of the Marsh House.
Omoide no Marnie tells the touching story of a young girl's journey through self-discovery and friendship, and the summer that she will remember for the rest of her life.
Ah, When Marnie Was There, or Omoide no Marnie, was an absolutely beautiful movie that hopefully will not be the last one produced by the famous Studio Ghibli. I've had the pleasure of being able to attend the first screening outside of Japan in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on the 31st of January 2015. Since there hasn't been a review until now, and the soundtrack has been looping on my headphones for nearly a month, I believe it is time for me to step up and write the first (and my first) review on MyAnimeList. Hopefully, without any kind of spoiler (but, I will correct a few details from the synopsis -- don't worry; nothing spoilerish).
The story for When Marnie Was There is based on the novel of the same name by Joan G. Robinson. Anna, the lead protagonist, has no friends, suffers from asthma attacks, and has a talent for sketching. She is rather closed off, rarely shows emotions, and is suspected to be depressed. After suffering a severe asthma attack, it is concluded that she should go live in the country for a while, away from the pollution. The pacing of these events is quite fast, but the continuation has an excellent pacing. As you've probably read from the synopsis, she begins to connect with a mysterious girl, Marnie. As you watch, pay attention to the expressions and interactions between the two girls. The interaction, the subtle changes in expression, and the strange occurrences that don't quite make sense make the story. Waiting for the story to unfold without paying attention to this, and without thinking about the plot, will make for a much less enjoyable experience. The pacing is excellent, the story telling is great, and the plot is amazing -- but don't expect an action-packed panty-shot fan-service movie. This is a story about adolescence, friendship, connecting, and mystery; and is just that in its purest form.
I could sum this up as "typical Studio Ghibli". If you don't know what that means, shame on you. To elaborate, everything from the character expressions, to the environments and the little decorations in the rooms is sublime. The attention for detail is extremely high, you could take a picture of a landscape or indoor room (stuffed with decorations) and get something that looks extremely similar to the environments and art shown in movie. As I mentioned at the story, especially the expressions deserve a lot of praise. A lot of attention and detail went into this, and you can see that the massive amount of experience and hand-drawn scenes delivers.
This should come as no surprise due to my earlier statement of continuously listening to the sound track for almost a month, but the sound is top notch. Like other Ghibli movies, the background music blends perfectly into the atmosphere and complement the mood and environment. At the end of the story, at the credits, once you've experienced the mood and growth of the characters, the ending theme "Fine on the Outside" by Priscilla Ahn begins to play. I cannot begin to describe how perfectly attuned it is to the mood you are in at the end of the ride; it compliments the entire story, and even feels like it is part of the story. If you've listened to it before, the meaning and feeling will change completely. The sound was excellent, and the album by Priscilla Ahn complimenting the movie is filled with great songs. Don't listen to it before you've seen the movie, though, as many of the songs on that album actually tell parts of the story!
It should come as no surprise, I really, really enjoyed the movie. It is an excellent movie, worthy of being a movie produced by Studio Ghibli, and if the worst thing happens -- an excellent final movie to be produced by them. After a month before reviewing the movie I can draw an honest conclusion; When Marnie Was There is now my favorite Ghibli movie. I hope to see the movie again soon, and hope that you'll enjoy it as much as I did.read more
Ghibli's final film is not easy to give a finalized opinion on. After thinking about this matter for a long while, I ultimately decide to award an Average grade to it.
If you want me to give a completely spoiler free verdict on whether or not to give this film a watch, I'd say if you're into a slow relaxing film, this may satisfy you. Otherwise you can give this one a pass.
It's funny, the film has a good middle bit and a very strong climax that, regrettably, is weakened by a very weak beginning and a mediocre and redundant ending that overstay their welcome. Although, I'll go into that in finer detail as we approach the main review proper.
Now before I begin, as is Ghibli standards, the art quality and the animation is superb and very easy on the eyes. The scenic views and backgrounds are relaxing in their own way and each scene is sufficient in its own when conveying the emotions the scene is bringing to the audience. Unlike most Ghibli films, this film has very minimal (if at all) fantastical elements in it, making for a very grounded, yet, relaxing imagery throughout the entire film.
Now for the story itself. Omoide no Marnie is an adaptation of When Marnie Was There, and for the most part, it does follow the book rather closely, though certain aspects of the book are cut for time purposes. However, personally I felt some parts of the film's beginning should have been shortened in order to speed up the pacing. It takes a good 40 minutes before the Marnie appears onscreen proper, while prior to that, we get a glimpse into Anna's life that seriously overstays its welcome. It should take no more than 15 minutes to convey her situation and predicament to the viewer but the film moves at such a slow pace that one honest gets bored waiting for something to happen.
Speaking of which, Anna, particularly her earlier characterization, felt weak and unsympathetic. Her character honestly bugged me, I get Ghibli wanted to make us feel bad for her, but I honestly don't understand this girl at all. She rejects every possible opportunity to make friends with the extras but yet suddenly develops a bond with Marnie out of nowhere. She neglects to ask important questions despite her doubts on the situation. It's also strange and morbidly amusing that she ends up unconscious in the middle of the night in random places yet nobody raises an alarm or finds anything suspicious with her.
Without spoiling most of it, the middle part of the film is competent and better-paced than the beginning. Hints and foreshadowing on the main plot twist are placed sparingly but are clear enough to spot so that as the climax approaches, the plot twist and change in tone don't come across as brash or sudden. And the climax is done so strikingly well one can actually sympathize and feel bad for Anna.
The relationship between Anna and Marnie, ie the core to the story, is done quite well (aside from their first meeting). It's cute and heart-warming and really has a nice warm and fuzzy feel to it. However, (despite Ghibli claiming otherwise), I still can't see their relationship being anything aside from a (one-sided maybe) romance, particularly after the revelation later in the story.
The ending however is when the whole story goes back to a mess of a slow pace. The story somehow feels the need to explain its plot twist twice to the viewer, that it comes across as unnecessary padding, and the way it explains its plot twist is so unsatisfactory it feels like an exposition dump on the viewer, especially if the viewer previously caught on to the foreshadowing in the previous part. It ends on a fairly mediocre, if predictable manner.
Ultimately the film is very average. It's very relaxing, don't get me wrong, but those wanting more plot may end up disappointed.
Preface: When Marnie Was There is an adaptation of a classic novel bearing the same name by Joan G. Robinson. The differences between the film and the novel are minor, but I highly recommend both nonetheless.
Young Anna finds herself sojourning in the countryside with her family in the hopes of relieving her troubled mind and body, where she then begins to experience visions of a blonde-haired girl residing in the local and desolate Marsh House. Her first encounter with who turns out to be the beautiful and mysterious Marnie occurs beneath a calm sky adorned with shimmering stars; the two become immediate friends, and their meetings become recurrent as their treasured relationship remains a secret to all but themselves.
"Didn't you know, you're my secret?"
From there we are whisked along Anna and Marnie's adventures at an exceptional pace with a story which is presented partly as a tale of friendship, family and growth and partly as a light mystery. These varying elements are seamlessly intertwined and gracefully developed as we see the gorgeous countryside through the ever-maturing eyes of Anna. Yet, while the story is without a dull moment, it feels less like a sprint and more like a calming stroll through a beautiful scenic route. The writing is eloquent and often powerful, and the story is often heartrending; yet things never felt too heavy, as if the film always found time to settle down and calm our anxious hearts. As with Anna, Marnie seemed to place an assured grasp on my shoulder and I soon found the two of us hand in hand as I was rhythmically swayed through this heartwarming tale by its deft and elegant storytelling.
Yet, When Marnie Was There is far from a tale of impenetrable bliss, and this is shown ever so vividly with our two superbly developed protagonists. Anna's attitude and general outlook towards others remains very much plagued with negativity and cynicism as she is haunted by her inhibitions, but she becomes increasingly likable as she is led to maturity by the confident hands of her charismatic friend. But while Marnie seemingly radiates with charm and beauty, she is nevertheless revealed to be a deeply troubled child once her coquettish exterior has been unveiled. Our protagonists, even in their moments of joy, emit traces of palpable sadness.
Even so, our characters' inner struggles constitute a relationship which is all the more enchanting, as two young and troubled girls who find solace in one another's short-lived presence. When Marnie Was There expertly straddles the line between the real and surreal; while the characters' struggles are genuinely human and resonate with many of our own, the film does an excellent job of painting Anna and Marnie's peculiar bond as one which is truly magical. I couldn't help but become allured by the two's blossoming and seemingly forbidden relationship, as if they shared a world only the two of them were able to see, as if they were escaping, just for a moment, from a world they no longer wanted to be a part of. All the while however, we are constantly reminded that their friendship is a delicate one, for their time spent together is often limited and strange phenomena seem to constantly separate the two, making their moments of happiness all the more meaningful and their moments of separation all the more heartbreaking.
The entire film also looks and flows much like a dream, with all of the beauty and magical aura and none of the convolution. Every scene is drawn with breathtaking detail, and the soft edges of its objects emanate inexplicable grace. Exquisite landscapes permeate the film, from the tranquil fields and gentle waters sitting beneath a brilliant moon to vibrant flower gardens and calming evenings beneath sun-kissed skies. Softly rendered shadows embrace characters, objects, and scenery. Character movements are animated with incredible fluidity for even the most subtle of gestures, from Anna's hesitant smiles and downcast glances to Marnie's vivacious expressions and elegant twirls in her rose-coloured dress. The soundtrack is equally dreamlike, composed primarily of beautiful and harmonious tracks which seamlessly ebb and flow alongside the story which acts as the orchestra's conductor, accentuating both the tender moments of friendship and the melancholic moments of solitude. As such, the atmosphere gleams with serenity and, at times, poignancy, and we are swept along as if carried by the Marsh House's surrounding waters.
When Marnie Was There concludes with a twist which felt akin to a puzzle piece sitting in with a satisfying click as opposed to a surprise revelation. As a possible caveat however, it is a twist which swiftly alters the tone of the film; but even so, I found the conclusion to be a perfect embodiment of the film's many simple yet meaningful themes, one which filled me both with immense satisfaction and an inexplicable sense of uplifting sadness. When Marnie Was There is an absolutely unforgettable tale of childhood and growth, of friendship and family, a tale painted upon a canvas with beautiful visuals and complemented by an equally mesmerizing soundtrack.
Like Anna, my heart swayed to and fro with the seaside greenery as they danced with the gentle winds; and I may recall, framed within softly blooming edges, ephemeral fragments of their radiant adventures at a time when the Marsh House once bustled with dancing couples, when the towering windmill remained a fear to be conquered, and when the vibrant fields bloomed with innocence and mystery; a time, of course, when Marnie was there. read more
Studio Ghibli has done it again.
When Marnie Was there (Omoide no Marnie) really blew itself out of the water with its art quality, story line and character development. I created an account on MAL JUST to review this movie. If you're looking for an emotional treat with that sprinkle of mystery, look no further.
The plot is built so that you're left feeling satisfied and wanting more. As with many Ghibli animations, it does have a sort of realistic underlining to it. It's generally a movie about family and the irreplaceable bond we have with them so it really touches home.
Studio Ghibli has really stepped it up in terms of art; the background is a beautiful watercolour style matched up with the classic hand-drawn animation. Towards the end you could tell they were running out of budget, but never-the-less I would watch the movie just to look at the art again.
The music was very well suited with the movie, however, nothing really too notable. The ending song really brings you back to the beginning of the movie though and wrapped it up nicely. A real sense of nostalgia :')
This is the best character development i've seen from Studio Ghibli in a while, it really is nice seeing the MC change and step out of her comfort zone. The back story of Marnie was well summed up at the end if you couldn't piece together the puzzle. The contrast between these two characters and seeing them come together is really heart warming.
I highly recommend this movie, so grab a box of tissues and go watch it!read more
This article will count down the top 20 anime of 2014, as decided by the users on MAL. There are fan favorites, surprise snubs and even hidden gems. Feeling nostalgic? Get ready for a blast from the past... and yes, by past I mean last year.
An anime’s OST draws us closer to the story and its characters by letting us feel what they feel. If you’re out looking for an anime that will not only offer an excellent story and beautiful artwork but also heartwarming piano music, then this list is for you.