Get out the tissues for more than just a heart-wrenching movie. I have now seen what is evidently the last Studio Ghibli film. This is my response to that reality:
Here’s my youtube review. I’d love if you guys give it a watch and a thumbs up. (I said wrong name on my youtube review. Sorry)
It’s about a girl named Anna who is clinically depressed. So much so she wishes she was dead. As a foster daughter she is deeply loved but still struggles with feeling unwanted and unloved. She says at the beginning ‘there are some people who fit in the circle and there are some that are outside”. She has resigned herself to being an outsider and thinks she is incapable of both giving and receiving love from anyone. I was really impressed with how deep they were willing to go. This is no cliched ‘down in the dumps’ kind of depression. This is real despair.
Worried about her, Anna’s mother sends her to a relative in the country to try and help her with her asthma and get her emotions back from this dark place. The animation is gorgeous in the countryside, some of Studio Ghibli’s best.
The sound mixing is also excellent. When she walks through grass it sounds like someone walking through grass. The rain and water sounds are so authentic. I don’t normally notice things like that but in this case it was wonderful and really gave a lush rich and textured feel to the movie.
Anna likes to sketch and one day she stumbles upon a marshland with a big mansion at one end.
Eventually she notices a teen like herself at the house. She has long blonde hair, blue eyes and seems like almost a ghost on the lake. She comes and goes at odd times and there is something other-worldly about her.
Anna dives further into the mystery of the marsh and the mansion and as she does a relationship between her and the girl named Marnie develops.
Some might see it as a lesbian romance but because of things we learn I think it is a deep and abiding friendship. Regardless they love each other and through the experience Anna begins to realize she is worthy of love and that she has great love in her life. She learns her value to the world and that’s a story arc that almost always works for me.
I was bawling my eyes out! I would say more but I really don’t want to spoil it for all of you. It is very clever and does not wash away her mental illness too easily. She grows little bit by little bit over a summer and really comes to know who she is. She even can be a jerk at times because she is so nervous about being rejected. That all felt totally authentic to me of someone dealing with a mental illness.
I felt like Anna was very close to hurting herself (like I said very dark) and Marnie is the equivalent of an angel sent to rescue a lost soul. I also loved the mystery element and like all good Studio Ghibli films I wasnt quite sure where it was all going. The climax in a silo was exciting and heart wrenching.
If I was going to nitpick I wasn’t that crazy with the US dubbing they did. It just didn’t seem to fit and normally Ghibli does a great job. I also thought the music was just ok (Kaguya had one of the best scores I’ve ever heard). The Priscilla Ahn song is nice during the credits. I love her but the score was average by Ghibli standards
But other than that I loved it. I thought it was bold and took a girl from a dark place to one of joy and happiness in a believable way. It’s a movie about hope and how we all have people rooting for us. Friendship and a knowledge of our eternal worth is what gives us hope and makes life worth living and Anna realizes that and is a new vibrant woman as a result. (In a way it is kind of like Field of Dreams. Other worldly message from the past to heal wounds and move forward).
The mystery surprised me at times and kept a brisk pace. The love overwhelmed me and the animation is stunning. It is definitely one I will want to get on blu-ray and it holds its own with the Studio Ghibli greats. If you can find it near you please go and see it. These studios need to know we love their work. Maybe someone else will pick up the banner with Studio Ghibli leaving us?
Here’s the trailer
Overall Grade A
Until then bye, bye Studio Ghibli. I love you!