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After Hayao Miyazaki departure in late 2013, and the declarations made in mid 2014 by Toshio Suzuki (then Studio Ghibli's General Manager) according to which the studio would take a "brief pause" to re-evaluate and restructure, the public opinion has exaggerated the facts - as is often the case - till the current consensus (as of August 2015) that says that after this one the studio will never produce another feature film again. Suzuki expressed indeed some concerns about where the company would go in the future, but on the other hand Miyazaki stated, by the end of 2014, that it was not his intention to let people believe that Ghibli would shut down after his departure: "All I did was announce that I would be retiring and not making any more features". In the end, though the subject is open to speculation. See more »
Following Miyazaki's retirement, the pressure was heavy on Director Yonebayashi as the next successor of Ghibli Studio. But in the Japanese multimedia, it was stated by the Former Director Miyazaki and Producer Suzuki that the future successor was finally decided after watching Yonebayashi's first solo directed movie "When Marnie Was There (2014)". Was this really the case? My answer - Yes.
This movie is unique in a sense that the story revolves around two female protagonists "Anna" and "Marnie"; although it does remind us a hint of the nostalgic movie "My Neighbour Totoro" which starred "Satsuki" and "May", their relationship is far more complex. As the story progresses, their relationship becomes more clear and vivid to the audience, and the confusion of the intertwining reality and the dreamlike world starts to unfold. The two girls go on a journey as they discover each others past and dwells upon their current problems, and gradually develops an unbreakable bond that unites them stronger.
Although the trailer did cause some confusing misunderstandings between the two girls in Japan, and at the same time my expectations lowered; after watching the movie it was no doubt a splendid and flawless piece of art both literally and figuratively.
It is worth noting that Yonebayashi truly challenged the impossible, as even Miyazaki had once thought of making this novel into a movie but had backed down due to its continuous complex changes that occur in the world of the two girls. Furthermore, Yonebayashi has created his "own" depiction of the sky in this movie, and is no longer the "blue sky" and "white clouds" that Miyazaki has portrayed in his series of work. So we can expect to see his own unique world of Ghibli gradually bloom in the next upcoming years.
To summarize the experience, it was astonishing how we, the audience ourselves can go on a journey together with the protagonists to overcome their obstacles. Paying attention to the changes in Anna's facial expressions is extremely crucial if you want to enjoy this movie. The succinct yet complex portrayal of these two girls really make you think of the depths of friendship.To conclude, I would like to end with Suzuki's logo that he had written for the advertising poster. The message of the logo is so sincere that to me there is no better way of epitomizing the message that the author and the director was trying to convey to the audience - 「あなたのことが大好き」- "I love you"; an unconditional love.
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