Hayao Miyazaki may have retired from the animation world, but that doesn’t mean Studio Ghibli is about to plummet from the sky like a giant flying Totoro whose umbrella has been riddled with machine gun fire. No, the studio soldiers on, and while their latest release, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, hasn’t yet arrived here in the Western world, their latest latest release is gearing up to premiere in Japan (we’re so behind).
That movie would be When Marnie Was There, an adaptation of Joan G. Robinson‘s novel of the same title. It’s the story of a young girl named Anna who’s depressed and alone, brimming with all the angst a lonely teenager can muster. But then she meets Marnie, and the pair soon form a quick bond. Real, palpable details about the movie are scarce, but according to the book’s synopsis, Marnie “isn’t all she seems…” But then, the very next sentence describes the book as “an atmospheric ghost story,” so Marnie is exactly what she seems, so long as you’ve read the back of the book.
A new trailer doesn’t provide much expository help, ether.
Because this trailer premiered on Japanese TV, you’ll have to put up with all the graphic mishmash painted over about a third of the screen (Japanese readers, please tell us what these words mean- witty commentary, or ads for a new shame-resistant dish soap?). The plus side, though, is that there’s no dialogue, so international audiences can still grasp what’s going on to some extent.
Studio Ghibli will forever toil under the shadow of Miyazaki, but there might be a few advantages to their new, Miyazaki-free state. No longer does every single Ghibli film have to be about flying, and how whimsical and incredible flying is, and how the moment of lifting off into the air is a joyous occasion for all, even for those who are deathly afraid of heights.
Marnie‘s trailer eases into the same direction, showing off a few birds that will no doubt carry themselves majestically upon a hot air current … until they don’t. From then on, all we see is water, either being stood in or boated upon. It’s placid in a way Ghibli films usually aren’t, and a well-deserved change of pace, even if standing in ankle-deep water doesn’t have the same allure as soaring through a cloud bank. Still, seeing a Ghibli film without a single ounce of flight-love (at least, nothing in the trailer, anyway) is a soaring experience all its own.
When Marnie Was Here is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, whose film The Secret World of Arriety proved a big success with critics and all the people told by critics to see the movie. Ghibli’s probably banking on a similar success for Marnie. And if it doesn’t work out, Miyazaki can un-retire just to make sure every single character in every future Ghibli film has a pair of wings, or access to a reasonably priced jetpack.