Studio Ghibli never fails to impress, with it’s touching moments and scenes that indicate something deeper, whilst relating to the audience. At least, I felt as if I could relate to it as an introvert like Anna. The film is written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi who touches on the the memories of our past, traumatic moments, childhood difficulties, friendship, feelings of loneliness and being an outsider. The character Anna is a tom boy 12-year-old girl living in Sapporo, and suffers from asthma that’s prone to panic attacks. After a panic attack, her foster parents send her away to be relatives in rural Hokkaido, where the air is fresh and clean. The seaside setting is beautiful, but Anna prefers to sit by herself and draw, than socialising with the locals.
At the beginning of the film, and throughout, there were moments that made me able to relate to her. Through going through depression, past memories that haunt and feelings of being left out through out high school. When Anna meets Marnie, a blonde hair blue eyed girl, she feels a familiarity, as if she has met her in her dreams. They become close friends who share both of their secrets and adventures with one another. There is a gothic like theme that surrounds the film, where Marnie wears Victorian clothing and lives in a huge mansion under the moonlit sky, by the seaside. There’s an other worldly feeling that Marnie gives, that is comforting and yet familiar to Anna.
The film shows how breaking out of the dark feelings of depression, feeling left out and lonely can be immensely freeing. Often we need to go on a new journey to break free of all our past traumas. High school was definitely not an easy time and the feelings of being an internal outsider can sink in so deeply. The feeling of our personal life and school life can sometimes integrate, making us feel even more left out. However, when Anna makes a new friend, their friendship strengthens her and she feels comfortable without being judged for being different.
For the duration of the animation, we see Anna change from a lonely and empty person who doesn’t express her emotions, to someone who opens up and smiles without feeling afraid. The amazing lessons on self discovery, finding yourself, making a new friend and letting go of the past are all a part of our lives. It is also a reminder to be understanding of those who are different. They can often have gone through difficult times. When Marnie Was There was both touching, meaningful and may shed a tear or two at the end.