Here’s how ‘When Marnie Was There’ is a misunderstood Ghibli masterpiece

Here's how 'When Marnie Was There' is a misunderstood Ghibli masterpiece

When Marnie Was There is often overlooked by Studio Ghibli fans, but it is a misunderstood masterpiece. The film is a slow-burning character study that deals with themes of loneliness, identity, and acceptance. It is also a visually stunning film, with beautiful animation and a haunting score (Pro-tip: listen to the song below for the remainder of the article.)

The Premise

The story of When Marnie Was There is about a 12-year-old girl named Anna Sasaki who is sent to live with her relatives in a small town in Hokkaido. Anna is a lonely and withdrawn girl who has trouble making friends. One day, Anna is exploring the marshes near her new home when she comes across an abandoned mansion, which immediately catches her interest.

She meets a mysterious girl named Marnie who lives in the mansion. Marnie is everything that Anna is not: she is beautiful, confident, and outgoing. Anna and Marnie quickly become friends, and they spend their days exploring the marshes and swimming in the lake.

As Anna and Marnie get to know each other, Anna begins to learn more about her own past. She discovers that her mother, Emily, was killed in an accident and that she had a grandmother named Marnie who took care of her for one year before she too succumbed to her illness. Emily never got the chance to be on good terms with Marnie and they both left the world without making amends with each other. Anna was then sent to live with Yuriko, her foster mother.

Here's how 'When Marnie Was There' is a misunderstood Ghibli masterpiece
Anna and Marnie from When Marnie was there | Image via TMDB

The Resolution of When Marnie Was There

The end of the story brings us to the final resolution. This is where Marnie, knowing what and who she is and who Anna is, apologizes to Anna. For leaving her as a baby, for dying, and for leaving her behind. Marnie begs Anna to finally forgive her and bids her goodbye.

Marnie never got the chance to say goodbye to her own daughter, Emily, and Emily resented her for abandoning her as a child. Marnie doesn’t want to make that mistake again, which is what makes the ending that much more important.

Here's how 'When Marnie Was There' is a misunderstood Ghibli masterpiece
Anna and Marnie from When Marnie was there | Image via TMDB

Anna says that she forgives her, loves her, and will never forget her. And at that one pivotal moment, you break down in tears knowing the weight their words carry, the words of two people who were torn apart. Anna comes to the town being bitter with her world, and she leaves with a lighter heart and a heavier bag of love to share.

Here's how 'When Marnie Was There' is a misunderstood Ghibli masterpiece
Anna from When Marnie was there | Image via TMDB

Why is the movie often misunderstood?

One of the reasons why When Marnie Was There is misunderstood is that it is not a typical Studio Ghibli film. It does not have the same sense of adventure or whimsy as other Ghibli films. Instead, it is a more grounded and realistic film. This can be off-putting to some viewers who are expecting something more fantastical.

Here's how 'When Marnie Was There' is a misunderstood Ghibli masterpiece
Anna and Marnie from When Marnie was there | Image via TMDB

Another reason why When Marnie Was There is misunderstood is because it deals with some difficult themes, much like Pom Poko. The film explores the idea of loneliness and how it can lead to self-destructive behavior. It also deals with the issue of identity and how we can sometimes feel like we do not belong. These are not easy topics to talk about, and they can make the film feel heavy and depressing.

Conclusion

Here's how 'When Marnie Was There' is a misunderstood Ghibli masterpiece
Anna and Marnie from When Marnie was there | Image via TMDB

When Marnie Was There is a film that is worth watching. It is a beautiful and thought-provoking film that can help us to understand ourselves and the world around us. If you are willing to put in the time to watch it, you will be rewarded.

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