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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

When Marnie Was There | 2014 Animation Movie Review | Netflix

Reviewed By: Umar Bin Adnan

When Marnie Was There came out in 2014 and is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. It tells the story of Anna, an antisocial girl who is sent to temporarily live with her relatives in a small town where she befriends a mysterious girl, Marnie. As the story continues, Anna becomes more and more obsessed with finding out who Marnie really is. I’m not a big anime fanatic, however, I really do enjoy watching Ghibli movies even though I haven’t seen many. While Grave of the Fireflies is my favourite Ghibli movie, When Marnie Was There comes mighty close to achieving that spot. 

When Marnie Was There Review & Technical Aspects

The animation is gorgeous. It is something that is just light years ahead of any western animation I’ve seen so far this century and really you can say that about any Ghibli movie ever. Grave of the Fireflies, Princess Mononoke and When Marnie Was There have my favourite animation of any animated movie ever. In this movie, the animation makes this movie come to life with how perfect everything flows and I was just stunned thinking that people actually sat down to sketch these frames. One of my favourite aspects of the movie is how the birds are animated. It may seem odd to you, however, the attention to detail that went into sketching only the birds and their movement really blew my mind. So the animation is perfect just like every other Ghibli movie is top-notch yet gives a distinct personality to this movie.


The theme of the family I found to be really strong in this movie. Without spoiling anything, the movie discusses the idea of family, is it just limited to our blood relatives or can we also consider other people to be family too? Sometimes we live our lives oblivious to what our parents or grandparents have done for us and when we get to realize that, it is usually too little too late however, we can rejoice at the moments we spent with them. These moments and their legacy are something that is engraved in the annals of time and nothing can erase it. This idea is discussed extensively throughout When Marnie Was There and especially towards the ending which (without spoiling anything) leaves you with a tear in your eye but also a smile on your mouth.

A Scene From The Movie When Marnie Was There
A Scene From The Movie “When Marnie Was There”

Why Should You Watch This Animation Movie?

The central mystery of the film keeps the viewer on their seat however, it also serves as a central theme. It goes to show us about how you may know a lot about a person yet know nothing about them. It perfectly captures the human behaviour of perception and how flawed this behaviour actually is. We might perceive other people to have seemingly perfect lives however, we can’t ever fully know the truth of their lives without living it. In the same way, we might perceive our own lives to be something that it might not be in actuality. Both of these aspects of the human experience are perfectly captured by the main mystery of this movie.


Trauma and how we process it are central to this movie. The story of this movie signifies the importance of trauma in life and how trauma ultimately helps us grow and be grateful. It can help us form connections with certain people that would’ve been impossible to form had the trauma been absent. This is something addressed throughout the second half of this movie. When Marnie Was There basically tells the viewer that trauma is inevitable and every person faces it somewhere or the other but by sharing that trauma with someone we trust, we can learn from it and ultimately grow.


My Final Two Cents About This Film

In the end, I think When Marnie Was There is a masterclass in animation, storytelling and is a movie that both kids and adults will adore. This is the type of entertainment that kids should watch rather than something illogical and childish like most western animated movies made today. Adults can enjoy the mystery element of the movie while also falling in love with its metaphorical nature. Last but not the least, it is important to mention that the soundtrack and the score is an absolute gem and worth mentioning. I recommend this movie to everyone, even if anime is not your thing, do give this one a try. I’m sure you’ll love it.


 The World of Movies Rating – 9/10


Movie Title: When Marnie Was There

Directed by: Hiromasa Yonebayashi 

Based on: When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson

Written by: Masashi Andō, Keiko Niwa, Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Year of Release: 2014

Genre: Animation, Drama, Family

Country of Origin: Japan

Languages: Japanese Original (English Dubbed)

Running Time: 103 minutes

Production Company: Dentsu

Distributed by: Netflix

Image Source: Screenshots taken from the movie.

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