Annie lives with foster parents and doesn’t have a friend in the world. When she is sent away to stay with the elderly Mr. and Mrs. Pegg she comes across a house she feels she recognises, the Marsh House and a strange little girl called Marnie, who becomes Anna’s first ever friend before she mysteriously vanishes one day. A new family, the Lindsays move into the Marsh House and Anna uses her experiences with Marnie to befriend the new family, but soon she begins to learn some bizarre truths about Marnie, who may not be all she seemed.
After 2010’s absolutely stunning Arrietty, an adaptation of Mary Norton’s classic The Borrowers, Studio Ghibli director Hiromasa Yonebayashi is returning to direct an anime feature film adaptation of a British classic once more, with Joan G. Robison’s When Marnie Was There being slated for a 2014 release by distributor TOHO, making it the studio’s 19th feature film following Hayao Miyazaki’s final film The Wind Rises and Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which were both released earlier this year.
It goes without saying that I am a huge Studio Ghibli fan (with The Cat Returns and Whisper of the Heart ranking among my favourite movies of all time), I felt that Arrietty was a fantastic directorial debut for Yonebayashi, who had worked on previous films as an animator. With the announcement of Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement from feature films earlier this year and with the other studio co-founder Isao Takahata being beyond the typical retirement age himself, the company is obviously looking for people to carry on the legendary torches into the future – if When Marnie Was There is anything like Arrietty, then Yonebayashi will definitely be one to keep an eye on.