Finally back to the Anime Challenge with Omoide no Marnie!
Hi. So I kinda failed on the whole “let’s watch a lot of anime before summer end”-thing. Like most plans, it ended in failure due to circumstance and pure lack of will. As a result, I have augmented the rules to be a bit more forgiving. You can check it all out here: Anime Challenge.
Anyways, I’m back to the challenge with this movie, Omoide no Marnie or When Marnie was There. Adapted from the classic Joan G. Robinson novel, When Marnie was There tells the story of an introverted girl named Anna who is sent to stay with relatives in the country after one of many asthma attacks at school. There, she comes across an old villa where a girl named Marnie lives. She becomes friends with Marnie and learns more about herself and the meaning of family as a result.
Now, I have to be fair. When Marnie was There has problems. The plot “twists” that occur at points near the end seem just the slightest bit contrived, although this is more a reflection on the source material rather than Studio Ghibli. The movie tends to slow down at strange points, either to remind you that this was originally a book or to reach something close to a decent run time. The animation hasn’t improved much since Studio Ghibli’s last outing Kaze Tachinu, and in fact I’d go so far as to say that Kaze had better animation. Overall, When Marnie was There isn’t the most impressive of films if we think of it as a film.
However, When Marnie was There isn’t really a film. If you add just the slightest element of personal attachment to it, it becomes beautiful. This is because the movie tackles something that almost everyone above a certain age can relate to: adolescent depression. When a memory or feeling causes you to well up with fear, self-loathing and saddness to the point where only tears come out and you don’t know why, you will do anything so that you never feel that way again. In the case of our main character Anna, her response is to shut herself off from the people who took her in as a child. She feels scared that if she were to face her feelings about her genealogy, she might begin to hate the people that took her in and gave her a home despite no blood relation.
And so we are left with a character who looks boring, a person with no expression or feeling. By all accounts, she is unimpressive by anime standards. However, put yourself in her shoes and you begin to see how real she actually is. She is us in those circumstances, choosing the path of least resistance, and unbeknownst to her it is to her detriment. But adolescents have no foresight. How else can you explain dubstep?
As she starts living with her relatives in the country, we see some change. She still has an animosity towards strangers, to the point where she will insult them to escape interactions in a social setting. However, no matter how much you want to cut attachments from people, you can’t cut your attachment from the world. The world around you will always be there and you can’t leave it. It’s your last friend, one you can’t abandon even in death. At least not physically. And so as she embraces the environment around her, she buffs up on her drawing skills. She’s not too shabby either. I daresay she could work for Studio Ghibli at some point.
And so When Marnie was There may seem convoluted at times, but only if you try to think of it as a preachy tale. It isn’t trying to tell you how to deal with yourself. It isn’t telling you to search through your family tree and find some contrived connection to come to terms with your adoptive family. It’s just telling you that it’s alright to be sad sometimes. It’s just telling you that the purpose of a family is so that even when you are sad, you aren’t alone. That’s all it takes. It’s a human companionship that requires no blood ties. Family purveys no monetary reward for services rendered and it asks nothing in return. Only that you smile back.
Well that should be all for now. Thanks for reading this soppy entry, and I hope you liked it. Have a great day!