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When Marnie Was There | Studio Ghibli's haunting tale of adolescent turmoil and self-discovery

When Marnie Was There

A tender, haunting tale about loneliness and friendship, exquisite anime When Marnie Was There is reportedly legendary Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli's last feature film. If so, they are certainly going out on a high.

An adaptation of English writer Joan G Robinson (opens in new tab)'s 1967 novel, transposed from 60s Norfolk to modern-day Japan, the story finds shy, unhappy young orphan Anna getting sent out of the big city by her adoptive family to stay for the summer with relatives in a quiet seaside town.

"Beautiful and bittersweet"

Her solitary rambles take her to a mansion on the salt marshes that is supposedly empty and abandoned. There, however, she encounters a mysterious blue-eyed blonde girl named Marnie and begins an intense friendship with her.

The film hints at mystery. Is Marnie real? A ghost? Anna's imaginary friend? But enigma takes second place to a sensitive exploration of adolescent turmoil and self-discovery, made even more beautiful and bittersweet by the film's delicate hand-drawn animation.


Certificate U. Runtime 99 mins. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi

When Marnie Was There is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from Monday 3rd October, courtesy of StudioCanal.


  • Behind the scenes with the English voice cast
  • The Making of ‘When Marnie Was There’
  • Yohei Taneda creates the Art of ‘When Marnie Was There’
  • Original Japanese trailers and TV spots
  • UK trailers

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.