When Marnie Was There - Reviews

Alt title: Omoide no Marnie

pinkarray's avatar
Jun 28, 2015

Another overrated project from Studio Ghibli. Their movies have not
been up the standards of movies such as My Neighbors the Yamadas or The
Cat Returns since 2012 with The Secret World of Arrietty. While The Cat
Returns wasn't that great, The Secret World of Arrietty was so
sentimental, it's painful. With the exception of Wind Rises, the movies
were overrated with simplistic Tale of Princess Kaguya (at the beginning,
of course). I was pretty skeptical about this one. While it started off
with a great beginning, it got boring and annoying when Sayaka showed
up. She is a forgettable character who was kind of mean, yet so nice,
she's clichéd.

Anna bothered me for some reason, it was because of her boyish clothes
but it was also something else, I don't know. Maybe she's just a
stereotypical pre-teen. Marnie was the standout character of all the
characters, she was perky, friendly, and mysterious.

Anna befriends Sayaka which drops the ball because a lot of movies have
characters befriending the clichéd nice girl. The art and animation
were still amazing as usual, but I am very disappointed in Studio
Ghibli for ending up like Pixar. The movie of course got cloying as it
went on whether it's between Anna or Sayaka or Anna and Marnie. It also
ended in a sentimental way. Maybe if they brought Hayou Miyazaki back
to directing, he would save the studio and bring it back its glory.

Also, I thought Sayaka's voice acting was a pretty bad job. The themes
just didn't click with me, it was boring and sometimes not empathetic.
Studio Ghibli tried too hard by throwing in creepy parts and an
emotional ending to be like their other movies. The creepy parts did
not blend well and ruined the pacing of the film.

6.5/10 story
10/10 animation
7/10 sound
5.5/10 characters
6/10 overall
haize78's avatar
Apr 19, 2015

When Marnie Was There is simply a lovely, moving, heartwarming tale. Really, there's nothing more to add to that.

The story is quite simple, but it's narrated in a sweet and delicate way flowing very nicely and effortlessly to a happy ending. It never drags and the pacing is perfect. 

The protagonist is a girl called Anna, who is sent by her foster mother to spend the summer with some relatives living in the countryside in the hope that the clean air might help with her asthma. Anna is a sad and lonely child, being adopted she is resentful both of her real parents and her adoptive ones. She feels she doesn't belong, so her reaction is to withdraw into herself, shutting everyone else out. The movie is the chronicle of her summer stay in the country. Things start changing for her when she meets and becomes friends with Marnie, a mysterious girl who lives in a mansion overlooking the marsh. And I won't add anything else to avoid spoilers.

The animation is beautiful. The backgrounds are incredibly detailed and the colours are amazing. Many scenes are so pleasing to the eye that you can use them as wallpapers for your pc. I really love how they drew the old mansion. But, in general, the animation is carefully perfected with attention to the finest detail.

The soundtrack is very good as well. I think the ending song is a perfect fit for the story.

As for the characters, no complaints. Anna is a convincing and believable portrait of what a child in her situation would feel and how she would react. And the rest of the characters are similiarly well presented and built. Really, there isn't a single false note in the entire movie.

I cannot but recommend it warmly. Studio Ghibli did a fine job.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
8.5/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
heartsDmise's avatar
Apr 5, 2015

I have got to say, that this is my favorite Ghibli film out of all of them.

I didnt expect to be moved so much by this movie. The characters were brilliantly portrayed and I loved their expressions.

I cried during the movie because I was able to feel every bit of emotion in this film.

The story's pacing was just right, and nothing was rushed.

It began with a mystery and by the end of the movie, everything was tied together nicely.

This is a movie suitable for any ages and enjoyable for your whole family, although I would suggest you bring some tissues along because Im pretty sure you will cry xD

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
Inkmonkey's avatar
Dec 19, 2015

This review may or may not contain spoilers.

While the movie starts out very strong, with immediately compelling characters, intriguiing plot, and memorable dialog, it peters off towards the end. The story is extremely predictable if you know enough of the usual anime cliches: within the first few minutes, Anna is established as a foundling with an unknown past; she travels to a village where she finds an abandoned mansion "oddly familiar"; the mansion belonged to foreigners; and before the middle of the movie, Anna is established as having foreign blood--chiefly because of her beautiful blue eyes, not unlike those of her "mysterious friend" Marnie.

However, because the character building is so strong and because of the rich storytelling potential of a remote Japanese village where the modern blends with the traditional and rustic, the movie remains very watchable. You hope against hope that it will, in fact, rise above the mundane "twist" it keeps hinting at. As a coming of age story, it charts the extremely intimate friendship that grows between Anna and Marnie, eventually helping Anna come out of her shell but not before she runs afoul of the villagers as she finds solace and a sense of identity in her secret relationship that other people would "spoil" if they knew of. There's a lot of romance and the kind of touching that typically signals sexual awakening in polite films.

But as carefully as the mystery and tension are built up, they're suddenly and shoddily explained away in the last third or so of the film. I can't quite recall the technical phrase employed for such a trope, but I believe it may be called..."a cop-out". It is disappointing and almost insulting to the viewers' intelligence to watch so many carefully set elements of the story--the overall arc, as well as the personal growth of Anna's character, and Marnie's character--get thrown out the window like so much dirty bathwater. It effectively undoes the bold, poignant narrative established by the earlier part of the film and reveals nearly every major character to be a shallow cardboard cutout stereotype many sub-par anime films are rife with. I'm surprised nobody at the studio raised a voice against such a turn.

4/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
10/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
moochz's avatar
Nov 13, 2020

It's a really sweet anime. Perhaps not the best work of studio ghibli but it was a soft and sweet coming of age story that I enjoyed. It's not typically the genre I like so I rated it a little lower out of personal preference, but overall it was nice. 

The real issue was I was low key shipping Marnie and Anna, because why the hell not? They were just so sweet to each other and super cute. Marnie helped Anna come out of her shell and come to terms with her family situation, so I thought they’d be really good together. Yeah it's obvious Marnie is not quite of Anna’s world, but I thought we’d get some kind of The Cat Returns-esque ending and I could quietly believe that they loved one another.


AND THEN MARNIE WAS HER GRANDMOTHER???? Oh god that reveal slapped me in the face seven times and left me more than a little dumbfounded. Yeah it’s my fault for liking a lesbian (or bi) ship in anime, but I completely didn’t see it coming.

I talked to a couple other friends of mine and apparently they all thought the exact same thing.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
10/10 characters
8/10 overall