When Marnie Was There
Anime Movie Review
Anime Movie Perfection!
Warning: this review does contain a few vague spoilers.
When Marnie Was There (思い出のマーニー, Omoide no Mānī) is a heart-touching tale of an emotionless 12-year-old girl, Anna, who is sent to her relatives in the countryside to recover. There, she meets Marnie, a girl her age who's wrapped in a mystery that changes her life.
This animated film, based on the book by Joan G. Robinson, was the last Studio Ghibli film before the studio went on hiatus, which has made many fans think of this as the last of their films. If it is, they definitely went out on a high note.
Just like you'd expect from this studio, the animation and artwork is spectacular. Every character looks and moves in ways you just don't often see in anime, plus the clouds, the plants, the water, and everything else, flowed with such serenity that it felt like a cell-shaded view of a real world. All these details paint a lush and beautiful countryside, with rich and detailed homes and people – a place anyone would love to visit – for the story to take place in.
The story itself is the main reason to watch this movie, though. As Anna explores her new environment, she comes across this mansion in the marsh that she becomes inexplicably drawn to, is compelled to sketch, and finds herself dreaming about. But, when she comes across Marnie, a mystery takes hold, while still providing a glorious friendship to wrap around. Strange things begin to happen to Anna when she meets Marnie that makes you question what's real and what isn't. It doesn't end there, though, and pulls us through an emotional adventure that is heart-wrenching at times, yet fantastically joyous at others. This movie certainly explores some of the deepest emotions I've ever seen from a child.
These emotional moments continue to grow as the deep mystery that this story is wrapped around squeezes into every aspect of Anna's life. This may very well be one of the greatest mysteries I have even experienced, but that may also be a bad thing for many viewers. I love mysteries, so much that most modern mysteries don't seem that mysterious to me, but this movie kept me guessing. If it's deep enough to keep me questioning what is going on, I can see many people getting outright confused by certain events. Everything that happens makes complete sense once the curtain falls near the end, but it may make a few people a little uneasy, and possibly even lost, at times. Although, knowing how it ends, a second watch of this movie will certainly remove any such confusion and may even make things even more enjoyable.
Above all else, the ending is the best part of this series, and it might just be the best movie ending I've seen in years. It is just so perfect that I'm having trouble finding the words that can accurately describe my feelings for it. It... The way... How everything... No, I can't. Nothing seems good enough without spoiling it. Once you've seen it, you'll know why.
Oh, and the music. The amazing music! After watching this movie, I immediately purchased the entire soundtrack. The starring song is definitely Fine on the Outside by Priscilla Ahn, but everything was just flawless.
When Marnie Was There is leaps and bounds above most western animated films, and tells a story so rich that it could easily become one of the great family movies. Most Disney films wouldn't even be able to compete with this one. As it is, this movie will definitely rest well in my collection of fantastic movies when the Blu-ray is released. This movie may still be out in a few U.S. and Canadian theatres (originally out May 22), so you may have to look around to find one still playing it. I know I saw the last showing in my area.
If you have children, and missed the movie in theatres, I highly recommend watching the movie with them when it's released on home video later this year – it is definitely a movie that will teach them so much and likely change their perspective on so many things. Don't have kids? Watch it anyway! This is a movie that both children and adults can enjoy equally. I don't think I've ever watched a movie as impactful as When Marnie Was There, and probably never will again. Bravo!
The Best Parts of When Marnie Was There
- The Animation: It is easy to tell how much time was spent making the anime based on how well everything is animated, and with the quality and painstaking detail in this movie, it's obvious that they poured everything they could into it.
- The Mystery: It's so rare to find a mystery that actually keeps you guessing until the end.
- The World and It's Inhabitants: With such a rich and detailed world, and fantastically expressed characters, it's hard not to fall in love with Anna's world. Sure, a few character backgrounds could be more fleshed out, but for this type of story they didn't need to be.
- The Feelings: This movie really makes you feel thanks to the extremely realistic emotions that Anna, and the other characters, express. Emotions aren't easily animated, but this move has no problems there.
- The Ending: Words can't describe how I feel about this movie's perfect ending.