When Marnie Was There (2014)

Original Title

思い出のマーニー Omoide no Mānī


Animation | Drama


Hiromasa Yonebayashi



Voice Cast

Sara Takatsuki, Kasumi Arimura, Hana Sugisaki, Hitomi Kuroki, Ryoko Moriyama, Nanako Matsushima, Susumu Terajima, Toshie Negishi, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Ken Yasuda, Yo Oizumi, Takuma Otoo, Hiroyuki Morisaki


Upon being sent to live with relatives in the countryside, an emotionally distant young girl (Sara Takatsuki) becomes obsessed with an abandoned mansion and meets an unlikely friend in Marnie (Kasumi Arimura), a young girl with flowing blonde hair who lives there; a girl who may or may not be real.


Upon getting an Oscar nomination for best animated picture, which, to be honest, really surprised me, I thought watching it was the right thing to do. Being this the first film from Studio Ghibli I've seen, I didn't know what to expect. My first reaction? I was astonished by every single aspect of it.

"When Marnie Was There" is a beautifully animated, and wonderfully crafted and told story about isolation and friendship with a tremendous emotional impact.

Dramatic and heartbreaking, the story has plenty of suspenseful moments that will make you want to watch the film till the end, and its unique storytelling makes this film unforgettable.

The first part of the film is quite shocking due to its realism in telling a story of depression and inability to interact with their own kind. In the second part is staged a friendship between two girls; this relationship that grows between them has all the characteristics of a romance, but those strong emotional bonds are eventually explained in the end, with an extraordinary psychological analysis, truly outstanding for an animated film.

What makes the story good, despite the lack of a real plot, is the characters. These latter, driven by deep if not self-destructive emotions, feel so real it's disturbing, and since the story is character-driven, every single character has a purpose, even if they appear for just brief moments.

While they both are independent yet fragile young girls, the two main characters, Anna and Marnie -- physically resembling Heidi and Clara from "Heidi, Girl of the Alps" -- are one the opposite of the other but they also are complementary as the yin and yang, and therefore they are attracted to each other in a world that does not accept them. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi did a wonderfully job in showing us their similarities and especially their differences.

All the previously mentioned combined with the stunning animation, the bright colors, the music and the oil-painting-looking and breathtaking landscapes makes the film really worth the time, and the nomination. 


  1. I haven't heard about this film until recently but now I really want to see it from your review. I would be that girl checking out the mansion:)