Tag Archives: Keiko Niwa

When Marnie Was There

Studio GhibliWhen Marnie was There

Written by Keiko Niwa, Masashi Andō, & Hiromasa Yonebayashi/Produced by Yoshiaki Nishimura & Toshio Suzuki/Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi/Music by Takatsugu Muramatsu/Based on When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Anna very well understands the way the world works, the fact that some people are accepted and others are necessarily outsiders for whatever reason. She doesn’t question that she herself is an outsider, alone at school, ill-tempered at times, a worry to her foster parents. When her asthma causes the doctor to recommend she be sent away to get some fresh air away from the city though, things begin to change a bit. She stays with relatives (of her foster parents) on an out-of-the-way island where everything seems to be more laid back and she can spend time exploring and drawing alone without being fussed over so much. And in her explorations, Anna finds herself drawn to an old, abandoned manor house across the bay . . . . and it’s at that old manor that she meets Marnie, a girl who will change her life in all sorts of unexpected ways but also a girl who will baffle Anna in many ways.

Okay, before anything else, I’m just going to say that there are going to be spoilers here. Because I have no idea how to honestly review this movie without spoilers. Sorry. So . . . I truly enjoyed When Marnie Was There, although I was kind of baffled through most of the story. It was worth sitting through the confusion, because when everything was explained it was extremely moving to the point that I cried. The way the story develops is almost dreamlike at parts, or rather, it’s as though dreams are being woven throughout Anna’s reality. Or perhaps it’s more as though two disparate points in time are briefly connected. In any case, although at times confusing, the friendship that develops between Anna and Marnie is really sweet and cute. And this is where the spoilers come in: the story totally seems like it’s shoujo ai through most of the plot, but the end reveals something very unexpected and different and absolutely touching. All in all, it’s a sweet story that’s developed quite nicely with plenty of drama and mystery. I appreciate that it also delves into deep issues like child neglect and the insecurity that orphans can feel sometimes even in loving homes. And of course, being a Studio Ghibli film, the art is absolutely stunning; I always enjoy their attention to all the fine details that make the illustration not just nice but amazing. Essentially, I would recommend When Marnie Was There to pretty much anyone, although I will note that if you’re not comfortable with shoujo ai, you might find watching this a bit weird (even though it’s technically not).



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From Up On Poppy Hill

from up on poppy hillStudio Ghibli

My rating: 5 of 5

From her home on a hill overlooking the sea, Umi still raises naval signal flags every day as a message to her father . . . even though his ship went down years ago during the Korean War. Around her, Yokohama is bustling in preparation for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. When she meets Shun, a member of the high-school newspaper club (who rather resembles her father in his younger days), Umi finds herself deeply attracted–a feeling that is mutual. When progress steps in and threatens to destroy the old high-school clubhouse, Umi joins many of her fellow students, male and female, in their campaign to save the old clubhouse. Never could she have dreamed that her growing relationship with Shun might unearth a past that might just change their relationship forever.

I absolutely loved From Up On Poppy Hill. The story is sweet and innocent, and the characters, in the bloom of hesitant first love, are charming. The juxtaposition of their quiet romance against the bustle–both of the country in preparation for the Olympics, and of the students in their quest to transform the clubhouse–is excellently done and brings out both sides beautifully. Speaking of beautiful, the art is classic Studio Ghibli gorgeous. The music is a really great fit too–lots of jazz, lots of movement. This movie took me through a wide range of emotions and left me feeling satisfied at the end. I would definitely recommend From Up On Poppy Hill to just about anyone.

Screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki & Keiko Niwa/Produced by Toshio Suzuki/Directed by Goro Miyazaki/Original Manga by Chizuru Takahashi & Tetsuro Sayama/Music by Satoshi Takebe

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