When Marnie Was There

When Marnie Was There

Theatrical release poster
Japanese 思い出のマーニー
Hepburn Omoide no Mānī
Literally Marnie of [my] Memories
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Produced by
Written by
Based on When Marnie Was There
by Joan G. Robinson
Music by Takatsugu Muramatsu
Cinematography Atsushi Okuo
Edited by Rie Matsubara
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • 19 July 2014 (2014-07-19)
Running time
103 minutes[1]
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget ¥1.15 billion
(US$10.5 million)
Box office ¥3.85 billion
(US$34.1 million)[2]

When Marnie Was There (Japanese: 思い出のマーニー Hepburn: Omoide no Mānī, literally Marnie of [My] Memories) is a 2014 Japanese anime drama film written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, produced by Studio Ghibli and based on Joan G. Robinson's novel of the same name, although it transposes the setting from Norfolk, England from the original novel to Sapporo.[3][4] The film follows Anna Sasaki living with her relatives in the seaside town. Anna comes across a nearby abandoned mansion, where she meets Marnie, a mysterious girl who asks her to promise to keep their secrets from everyone. As the summer progresses, Anna spends more time with Marnie, and eventually Anna learns the truth about her family and foster care.

It was the final film for Studio Ghibli, before they announced that its division took a short hiatus after The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki a year before the film was released.[5] It also marked the final film credit for Studio Ghibli animator, Makiko Futaki.[6] The film was released in theatres on 19 July 2014,[7] and on Blu-ray and DVD in Japan on 18 March 2015.[8] It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 88th Academy Awards.


Anna Sasaki is an introverted 12-year-old girl who lives in Sapporo with foster parents, Yoriko and her husband. Anna is distant and unhappy with them, because she finds out that they receive money from the government to take care of her but will not discuss her feelings, leaving her foster parents mystified and worried by her behaviour. One day at school, she collapses from an asthma attack and her parents send her to spend the summer with Setsu and Kiyomasa Oiwa, relatives of Yoriko, in a rural, seaside town where the air is clear, located between Kushiro and Nemuro.

The old silo that appears in the film is based on Burnham Overy Staithe Windmill.

Anna sees an abandoned mansion, dilapidated and overgrown, across a salt marsh and wades across the marsh to investigate it. She looks around, wondering why it seems so familiar to her, but gets trapped there by the rising tide. Toichi, a taciturn old fisherman, brings her back to the pier with his rowboat, and Anna sees the house for a moment in good repair and well-lit. When she returns to the Oiwa's, Setsu tells her that the mansion used to be a vacation home for some foreigners, but that it has been empty for a long time. Starting that night, Anna has dreams of seeing a blonde girl in the mansion, having her hair brushed by an old woman.

On the night of the Tanabata festival, Anna fights with Nobuko Kadoya about her blue eyes, an unusual feature which Anna cannot explain because she does not know who her biological family is. As she runs away, she discovers a rowboat by the shore and rows it across the marsh to the mansion, where she meets Marnie, the blonde girl. Anna tells Marnie about her dreams, but Marnie assures Anna that she is not dreaming now. The two agree to keep their meeting secret and they meet again on the next evening. Marnie invites Anna to a party at the mansion, which is filled with guests. Marnie disguises Anna as a local flower girl to get her into the party. While there, Anna sees Marnie dancing with a boy named Kazuhiko. Later some townspeople find Anna asleep by the post office. The next day, Anna returns to the mansion, but it appears abandoned and dilapidated again.

One week later, while sitting on the shore sketching in a sketchbook, Anna meets Hisako, an older woman who paints pictures of the marsh and the mansion. Hisako comments that Anna's sketches look like a girl whom she knew when she was young, and she used to live in the mansion. She also tells her that the mansion is being renovated because someone is moving in. Anna runs to the mansion, where she meets a girl named Sayaka, who discovers Marnie's diary hidden in the drawer. The diary includes an account of the party with the flower girl. Several pages are missing at the end of the diary.

The next day, Marnie reappears and tells Anna about how her parents are always traveling abroad, how they leave her in the mansion with her nanny and two maids, and how the nanny and maids abuse her physically and psychologically and that they used to threaten to lock her in the silo near the mansion. Anna leads Marnie there where she helps her confront her fear, but Anna wakes up to find that Marnie had left her behind in the silo. Meanwhile, Sayaka finds the missing pages from Marnie's diary, which include passages about Kazuhiko and the nearby abandoned feed silo. Sayaka and her brother head for the silo, thinking Anna may be there, and find her unconscious and feverish along the path. While in her feverish state, Anna has a dream about her, confronting Marnie who tells Anna she is sorry for leaving her and that she cannot see Anna anymore. Marnie begs Anna for forgiveness to which she sadly vows to remember Marnie and the things she did for her, as she is swept away by the tide.

Places such as Sapporo, were part of the film.

When Anna recovers from her fever, Sayaka shows her the missing pages and a painting Hisako gave to Marnie. They converse with Hisako, who tells them about Marnie's story, that she married Kazuhiko and had a daughter named Emily, Kazuhiko died from an illness, Marnie was committed to a psychiatric hospital and Emily was sent to boarding school. After Marnie was released, Emily blamed Marnie for abandoning her. Emily ran away and had a daughter herself, but she and her husband were killed in a car accident when their daughter was one year old. Marnie raised her granddaughter who was placed in foster care, after Marnie's death.

At the end of the summer, Yoriko goes to the town to take Anna home. She gives Anna a photograph of the mansion and says it belonged to Anna's grandmother. When Anna sees Marnie's name written on the back, she realizes that she is Emily's daughter and Marnie's granddaughter. This revelation helps to bring Anna closure about her identity, her unusual blue eyes and most importantly, that she was loved and wanted by her biological family. Yoriko also tells Anna about the government payments for her care, however Anna admits she knew about the payments but now no longer cares about them. For the first time, Anna calls Yoriko her mother. During the end credits, Anna says goodbye to her friends she met in town, before seeing Marnie in the mansion waving goodbye to her, as Yoriko drives Anna back home.

Voice cast

Character Japanese cast English dub cast[9]
Anna Sasaki Sara Takatsuki[10] Hailee Steinfeld
Marnie Kasumi Arimura[10] Kiernan Shipka
Taylor Autumn Bertman (young)
Sayaka Hana Sugisaki[11] Ava Acres
Hisako Hitomi Kuroki[10] Vanessa L. Williams
Mila Brener (young)
Elderly Lady Ryoko Moriyama[10] Catherine O'Hara
Yoriko Sasaki Nanako Matsushima[10] Geena Davis
Kiyomasa Oiwa Susumu Terajima[10] John C. Reilly
Setsu Oiwa Toshie Negishi[10] Grey Griffin
Nanny Kazuko Yoshiyuki[10] Ellen Burstyn
Tōichi Ken Yasuda Fred Tatasciore
Mrs. Kadoya N/A Kathy Bates
Nobuko Kadoya N/A Raini Rodriguez
Doctor Yamashita Yo Oizumi Bob Bergen
Neighborhood Association Officer Takuma Otoo N/A
Art Teacher Hiroyuki Morisaki N/A


When Marnie Was There Soundtrack Music Collection
Soundtrack album by Takatsugu Muramatsu
Released 16 July 2014 (2014-07-16)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 1:11:18
Label Studio Ghibli Records/Tokuma Japan Communications

When Marnie Was There Soundtrack Music Collection, known as Omoide no Marnie Santora Ongaku Shuu (思い出のマーニーサントラ音楽集) in Japan, is a two-disc soundtrack and image song album that was released on CD in Japan and in 113 countries worldwide (including Japan) as a digital download on the iTunes Store on 16 July 2014.[12] The first "Image Song" disc features music composed to express the personality of the characters and feel of places in the film. The second disc features all the background music for the film. Priscilla Ahn, the writer and performer of the movie's theme song, "Fine on the Outside", also released an accompanying album to the film called Just Know That I Love You on July 16, 2014.

Track listing


Marnie was released in Japan on 19 July 2014. On 14 January 2015, GKIDS announced that they would be distributing the film for a North American release.[13] The film premièred at the New York International Children's Film Festival on 27 February 2015.[14] The film had its UK premiere during the BFI London Film Festival on 10 October 2015 with a wider release scheduled for 10 June 2016.[15]

The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD in Japan on 18 March 2015,[16] and released on Blu-ray and DVD in America on 6 October 2015.[17]


Box office

Marnie opened at third place, grossing ¥379 million during its opening weekend in Japan.[18] By its fourth weekend, it had earned ¥2.08 billion,[19] made an additional ¥930 million in its next two weekends,[20] and had a total of ¥3.63 billion by its eighth weekend.[21] In North America, the film had grossed US$186,844 by its third weekend.[22]

Book sales

Following the success of the film, Robinson's original novel experienced a boost in sales internationally. Her agent Caroline Sheldon sold the rights of the book to 10 countries, including Japan, Italy, Spain and China. The book was also re-released in English by HarperCollins Children's Books as part of its classics range.[23]

Critical reception

Marnie received generally positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 92%, based on 86 reviews, with an average of 7.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "When Marnie Was There is still blessed with enough visual and narrative beauty to recommend, even if it isn't quite as magical as Studio Ghibli's greatest works."[24] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 72 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[25]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Results Ref(s)
2015 Japan Academy Prize Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year Nominated [26]
Chicago International Children's Film Festival Best Animated Feature Film Won [27]
Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Animated Feature Film Nominated [28]
2016 Annie Awards Best Animated Feature — Independent Nominated [29]
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Hiromasa Yonebayashi Nominated
Writing in a Feature Production Keiko Niwa, Masashi Ando and Hiromasa Yonebayashi Nominated
Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated [30]
Saturn Awards Best Animated Film Nominated [31]


  1. "WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE [Japanese subtitled version] (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 15 January 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  2. "When Marnie Was There - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. 31 January 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  3. "Ghibli Adapts Joan G. Robinson's When Marnie Was There Novel Into Anime". Anime News Network. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
  4. Osmond, Andrew (May 17, 2016). "Original When Marnie Was There Novel Int'l Sales Boost". Anime News Network. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  5. O'Brien, Lucy (3 August 2014). "Studio Ghibli May No Longer Be Making Feature Films". IGN. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  6. Blair, Gavin J. (2016-05-29). "Makiko Futaki, 'Akira' and Studio Ghibli Animator, Dies at 57". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  7. Kevin Ma (12 December 2013). "Studio Ghibli adapts Marnie for Summer 2014". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
  8. "映画『思い出のマーニー』2015年3月18日(水)ブルーレイディスク&DVD発売決定!". Retrieved 2014-12-17.
  9. Fischer, Russ (March 5, 2015). "Hailee Steinfeld Leads When Marnie Was There English-Language Cast". /Film. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 思い出のマーニー (in Japanese). Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  11. "The "Twice-Cooked Pork Girl" plays the role of Sayaka, the glasses-wearing third heroine in Ghibli's latest work, "When Marnie was There"" (in Japanese). 2 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  12. "iTunes - Music - When Marnie Was There (Soundtrack Music Album) by Takatsugu Muramatsu". iTunes. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  13. "GKIDS to Release Studio Ghibli's 'When Marnie Was There' in North America". Rotoscopers. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  14. "Ghibli's When Marnie Was There Gets N. American Premiere in NYC". Anime News Network. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  15. "Optimum Releasing: When Marnie Was There". Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  16. Beveridge, Chris (18 December 2014). "Disney Japan Sets 'When Marnie Was There' English Subtitled Anime DVD/BD Release". The Fandom Post. The Fandom Post. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  17. "Amazon.com: When Marnie Was There (Blu-ray + DVD): Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, Grey Griffin, John C. Reilly, Vanessa L. Williams, Geena Davis, Ava Acres, Raini Rodriguez, Kathy Bates, Ellen Burstyn, Catherine O'Hara, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Jamie Simone: Movies & TV". Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  18. Ma, Kevin (23 July 2014). "Pokemon defeats Ghibli at Japan box office". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  19. Ma, Kevin (12 August 2014). "Doraemon defeats Transformers in Japan". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  20. Ma, Kevin (26 August 2014). "Doraemon wins round three in Japan". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  21. "Japanese Box Office, September 6–7". Anime News Network. 14 September 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  22. "Ghibli's When Marnie Was There Earns US$77,452 in 3rd U.S. Weekend". Anime News Network. June 13, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  23. Eyre, Charlotte (May 16, 2016). "Robinson novel gets sales boost following Japanese animation". The Bookseller. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  24. "When Marnie Was There(2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, Inc. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  25. "When Marnie Was There". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  26. "Stand By Me Doraemon, Rurouni Kenshin Win Japan Academy Prizes". Anime News Network. February 27, 2015.
  27. "When Marnie Was There Wins Chicago Int'l Children Film Festival Prize". Anime News Network. November 7, 2015.
  28. "Miss Hokusai Wins Asia Pacific Screen Awards' Best Animated Feature". Anime News Network. November 26, 2015.
  29. "43RD ANNUAL ANNIE AWARDS NOMINEES". Annie Awards.com. December 1, 2015.
  30. "Best Animated Feature Film Nominations 2016 Oscars". January 14, 2016.
  31. "The 42nd Annual Saturn Awards nominations are announced for 2016!". Saturn Awards. February 24, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
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