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ghibli mural with marnie

Spot Marnie.

A few bits and bobs have been trickling in about Studio Ghibli’s next film,「思い出のマーニー」(Omoide no Mani/Memories of Marnie, 2014), which is due to be released in Japan this summer – on July 19 to be exact (mark your calendars!).

Directed by Yonebayashi Hiromasa, the film is an adaptation of Joan G. Robinson’s When Marnie Was There, which I reviewed back in December 2013. Apparently Yonebayashi is shifting the setting from Great Britain to Japan, to a small village in Hokkaido. I’m a wee bit disappointed about that as I have been planning a trip to the village in Norfolk where the original book is set with some friends, although I’m sure the Hokkaido setting will do just fine. (I’ll still go to Norfolk, I’ll just have to visit Hokkaido now to so that I can compare.)

Studio Ghibli’s official Marnie website has now come alive as well, with information about theatres that will showing the film, plus some details about Omoide no Mani itself.

First Images

A few images have been released – nothing too revealing just yet though.

Anna, a loner foster child that gets sent to a seaside village, is the narrative voice of Omoide no Mani:

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There she meets the rather ethereal Mani (Marnie in the original book):

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…who lives in a grand house by the sea:

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Voice Cast for the Lead Characters

Along with these images, the voice cast for the two main characters has been announced. Takatsuki Sara (16) will be playing Anna and Arimura Kasumi (21) takes the role of Mani. Both are Studio Ghibli newbies. Some have also noted that this is the first Ghibli film with two female protagonists. I wouldn’t expect otherwise from the studio, which never played by the convention that only films with male heroes can sell and has always had memorable female characters – from Nausicaa to Kiki to Princess Mononoke – lead the way. At the same time I’m looking forward to the time when such choices are no longer news, as what makes the original story of When Marnie Was There great is not the fact that its two main characters are female, but that their experiences are haunting and relatable.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 8.02.28 am

Theme Song

Priscilla Ahn, an American musical artist, yesterday also tweeted “My biggest dream came true-I’m writing & singing the theme song to the next Studio Ghibli film – out this Summer!!!”, and posted a charming picture too (below). Her contribution is “Fine on the Outside”, a composition that Ahn wrote while still in high school. The song will completely be in English, another Ghibli “first”.

priscilla ahn ghibli

We got good stuff to look forward to!

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