When Marnie Was There

When Marnie Was There (Japanese: 思い出のマーニー, Hepburn: Omoide no Mānī, "Marnie of [My] Memories") is a 2014 Japanese anime drama film written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, produced by Studio Ghibli for Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Hakuhodo DYMP, Walt Disney Japan, Mitsubishi, Toho and KDDI and distributed by Toho. It is based on Joan G. Robinson's 1967 novel of the same name.[2][3]

When Marnie Was There
When Marnie Was There.png
Japanese theatrical release poster
HepburnOmoide no Mānī
LiterallyMarnie of [my] Memories
Directed byHiromasa Yonebayashi
Produced byYoshiaki Nishimura
Screenplay by
Based onWhen Marnie Was There
by Joan G. Robinson
Music byTakatsugu Muramatsu
CinematographyAtsushi Okuo
Edited byRie Matsubara
Distributed byToho
Release date
  • 19 July 2014 (2014-07-19)
Running time
103 minutes[1]
Budget¥1.15 billion
($10.5 million)
Box office¥3.85 billion
($36 million)

The film follows Anna Sasaki staying with her relatives in a town in Kushiro wetlands, Hokkaido. 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 it would take a short hiatus after The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki a year before the film was released.[4] The film featured the final work for Studio Ghibli animator Makiko Futaki, who died in May 2016.[5] It was also the final film that Yonebayashi directed for Ghibli before he decided to quit the studio. The film received positive reviews from critics, praising its animation, music, vocal performances, and emotional story. It was released in theatres on 19 July 2014,[6] and on Blu-ray and DVD in Japan on 18 March 2015.[7] It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 88th Academy Awards.

Kushiro Wetlands, in Hokkaido, Japan
Places such as Sapporo were part of the film.
The old silo that appears in the film is based on Burnham Overy Staithe Windmill, Norfolk.


Anna Sasaki is an introverted 12-year-old girl living in Sapporo with foster parents, Yoriko and her husband. After collapsing from an asthma attack, Yoriko discusses Anna's recently withdrawn attitude with her doctor. At the doctor's recommendation to send Anna to a place where the air is clean, both foster parents decide to have her spend the summer break with Yoriko's relatives, Setsu and Kiyomasa Oiwa, who live in a rural, seaside town called Kissakibetsu, located between Kushiro and Nemuro.

Anna sees an abandoned mansion across a salt marsh and goes to investigate. She looks around, finding it familiar, but gets trapped there by the rising tide until she is found by Toichi, a taciturn old fisherman. Setsu tells her that the mansion used to be a vacation home for some foreigners, but it has been empty for a long time. Starting that night, Anna dreams of seeing a blonde girl in the mansion.

On the night of the Tanabata festival, Anna gets into an argument with a local girl and runs away to the mansion where she meets the blonde girl, Marnie. 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. While there, Anna sees Marnie dancing with a boy named Kazuhiko. Later, some townspeople find Anna asleep by the post office. Anna returns to the mansion but it appears abandoned and dilapidated again.

A week later, 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. She also tells Anna that the mansion is being renovated for new owners. Anna runs to the mansion where she meets a girl named Sayaka, who discovered Marnie's diary hidden in a drawer.

The next day, Marnie reappears and the two girls discuss their home lives. Anna admits to finding government documents that show how her foster parents are paid to take care of her. Anna makes the assumption that they only pretend to love her for the money. Marnie then shares with Anna how her parents are always traveling abroad, and how she is always left in the mansion with her nanny and two maids. The maids abuse her, and threaten to lock her in the silo near the mansion. Anna leads Marnie to the silo, where she helps her confront her fear. Anna wakes up, only to find Marnie gone.

Meanwhile, Sayaka finds the missing pages from Marnie's diary, which include passages about Kazuhiko and the nearby silo. Sayaka and her brother find Anna unconscious and bring her back to the Oiwas. In her feverish state, Anna dreams about confronting Marnie, who tells Anna she is sorry for leaving her and that she cannot see Anna anymore.

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: Marnie married Kazuhiko and they had a daughter named Emily. Kazuhiko died from illness and Marnie committed herself to a sanatorium. Emily was sent to boarding school. Marnie recovered but Emily blamed her mother for abandoning her. Emily ran away and had a daughter herself, but she and her husband were killed in a car accident. Marnie raised her granddaughter, who was placed in foster care after her death.

At the end of the summer Yoriko arrives in 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 Marnie's granddaughter. This revelation helps to bring Anna closure about her identity. Yoriko also tells Anna about the government payments, but reassures her that they have always loved her regardless. For the first time Anna calls Yoriko her mother. During the end credits Anna says goodbye to the friends she met in town, before seeing Marnie at the mansion window waving goodbye to her.

Voice castEdit

Character Japanese cast English dub cast[8]
Anna Sasaki Sara Takatsuki[9] Hailee Steinfeld
Marnie Kasumi Arimura[9] Kiernan Shipka
Taylor Autumn Bertman (young)
Sayaka Hana Sugisaki[10] Ava Acres
Hisako Hitomi Kuroki[9] Vanessa Williams
Mila Brener (young)
Elderly Lady Ryoko Moriyama[9] Catherine O'Hara
Yoriko Sasaki Nanako Matsushima[9] Geena Davis
Kiyomasa Oiwa Susumu Terajima[9] John C. Reilly
Setsu Oiwa Toshie Negishi[9] Grey Griffin
Nanny Kazuko Yoshiyuki[9] Ellen Burstyn
Tōichi Ken Yasuda Fred Tatasciore
Mrs. Kadoya N/A Kathy Bates
Nobuko Kadoya Akiko Yoritsune 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
Released16 July 2014 (2014-07-16)
LabelStudio Ghibli Records
Tokuma Japan Communications
Singles from When Marnie Was There Soundtrack Music Collection
  1. "Fine on the Outside"
    Released: 2 July 2014

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.[11] 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 16 July 2014.

Track listingEdit


When Marnie Was There 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.[12] The film premièred at the New York International Children's Film Festival on 27 February 2015.[13] 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.[14]

The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD in Japan on 18 March 2015,[15] and released on Blu-ray and DVD in America by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on 6 October 2015.[16]


Box officeEdit

When Marnie Was There opened at third place, grossing ¥379 million during its opening weekend in Japan.[17] By its fourth weekend, it had earned ¥2.08 billion,[18] made an additional ¥930 million in its next two weekends,[19] and had a total of ¥3.363 billion by its eighth weekend.[20] By the end of 2014, the film had grossed ¥3.53 billion ($33,319,244) in Japan.[21]

Overseas, the film sold 114,679 tickets in France,[22] equivalent to approximately €743,120 ($860,682) in 2015.[23] In North America, the film had grossed $186,844 by its third weekend,[24] and went on to gross $561,085 in the United States and Canada.[25] In South Korea, it grossed ₩284,696,700 ($251,686) in 2015.[26] The film grossed $763,191 in other territories,[27] for a worldwide total of approximately $35,732,996.

Book salesEdit

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.[28]

Critical responseEdit

When Marnie Was There received positive reviews. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91%, based on 95 reviews, with an average rating of 7.48/10. The website'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."[29] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 72 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[30]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Results Ref(s)
2015 Japan Academy Prize Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year Nominated [31]
Chicago International Children's Film Festival Best Animated Feature Film Won [32]
Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Animated Feature Film Nominated [33]
2016 Annie Awards Best Animated Feature – Independent Nominated [34]
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 [35]
Saturn Awards Best Animated Film Nominated [36]


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  10. ^ "「思い出のマーニー」に第3のヒロイン メガネの少女・彩香を演じたのは"回鍋肉の子"" [The "Twice-Cooked Pork Girl" plays the role of Sayaka, the glasses-wearing third heroine in Ghibli's latest work, "When Marnie was There"]. Eiga.com (in Japanese). 2 August 2014. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
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  19. ^ Ma, Kevin (26 August 2014). "Doraemon wins round three in Japan". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 29 August 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
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  21. ^ "2014". Eiren. Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
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  23. ^ "Average cinema ticket price in France 2009-2016". Statista. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
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External linksEdit