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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogWhen Marnie Was There and More Hidden Ghibli Gems

When Marnie Was There and More Hidden Ghibli Gems

By Savannah Walker
July 09, 2024
The two main characters from "When Marnie Was There" standing back-to-back

Studio Ghibli is famous for its beloved classics like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, but did you know there are some hidden gems in their collection? One of these is When Marnie Was There, a beautiful film that tells a touching story set in a seaside town.

This movie, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, is filled with heart and beautiful animation. Now, let’s explore more hidden gems from Studio Ghibli that you might not have heard of!

When Marnie Was There (2014)

When Marnie Was There is a touching tale about Anna, a young girl who struggles with loneliness and low self-esteem. Sent to a quiet town for her health, she discovers the mysterious Marsh House and meets Marnie, a girl who profoundly understands her. Their secretive friendship transforms Anna’s life forever. Set against a beautiful seaside backdrop, the film’s dreamlike quality sets it apart in Studio Ghibli‘s lineup.

A screenshot from "When Marnie Was There".
“When Marnie Was There” is based on a British novel. Image via CBR

This movie beautifully explores friendship, acceptance, and self-discovery themes, showing how connections with others can heal and inspire personal growth. With its stunning animation and heartfelt storytelling, “When Marnie Was There” has become a cherished favorite among Studio Ghibli fans, leaving a magical and lasting impression.

Ocean Waves (1993)

Ocean Waves is a unique Ghibli film made by younger studio staff. It tells the story of Taku, a high school boy who reflects on his school days and his complicated relationship with a girl named Rikako. Generally, the film beautifully captures the mixed emotions in youth and first love.

Two high school students walking on the shore in "Ocean Waves".
“Ocean Waves” is a coming-of-age story. Image via IndieWire

Its grounded story, without the fantasy elements Ghibli is known for, makes it a refreshing choice. This movie also resonates with viewers because of its realistic portrayal of teenage life and relationships. It appeals to those who enjoy down-to-earth stories, offering a nostalgic glimpse into the highs and lows of adolescence.

Only Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday is a delightful film that blends nostalgia and self-discovery. Meet Taeko, a 27-year-old woman who travels to the countryside and helps on a farm, unlocking memories of her childhood. The film charmingly intertwines her past and present, showing how our early experiences shape us.

A woman in a straw hat standing next a girl in a classroom.
This movie was very popular with older audiences! Image via Medium

It’s a heartwarming story that resonates with anyone who fondly remembers their youth with a touch of longing. Not to mention, because of its beautiful animation and heartfelt storyline, Only Yesterday stands out in Studio Ghibli’s collection, offering a cute and fun journey into the joys of reminiscing.

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My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)

If you’re up for something light-hearted and hilarious, My Neighbors the Yamadas is a must-watch! Unlike your typical Ghibli fare, it’s a delightful series of vignettes about the quirky Yamada family. Each story gives a funny glimpse into their everyday antics, all illustrated in a charming watercolor style. The film is full of warmth and laughter, capturing the joy and occasional chaos of family life in a way that’s totally relatable and utterly entertaining.

A scene from "My Neighbors the Yamadas", one of them is riding a tricycle.
This movie is visually unique from the rest of Studio Ghibli’s filmography. Image via Character Design References

This movie resonates with audiences through its upbeat and comedic tales, offering a refreshing departure from Ghibli’s usual fantastical themes. With its unique watercolor art and playful storytelling, My Neighbors the Yamadas has become a favorite, reminding us of the laughter and love that family brings.

From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)

From Up on Poppy Hill is a lovely movie that takes place in 1960s Yokohama. It tells the story of Umi and Shun, two high school students who team up to save their school’s clubhouse from being torn down. The film shows Japan after the war with beautiful scenery and a nostalgic feel. It’s a sweet tale of young romance and why it’s important to remember history and memories.

A scene from "From Up on Poppy Hill" featuring a boy and a girl in a school uniform.
This movie takes place during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Image via WIRED

With its beautiful animation and captivating setting, this touching and nostalgic movie takes viewers back to an important time in Japan’s past. With its themes of love, community, and the importance of remembering, From Up on Poppy Hill stands out among Studio Ghibli’s films, leaving a solid impression with its gentle and heartfelt story.

Why should I watch hidden gems like When Marnie Was There?

These hidden gems might not be as famous as Totoro or Howl’s Moving Castle, but they offer unique stories and perspectives. When Marnie Was There provides a heartfelt exploration of friendship and self-discovery. Each of these films showcases Studio Ghibli’s incredible ability to tell diverse stories that touch the heart.

Arrietty in a red dress in her green room.
Which hidden gem is your favorite? Image via Animated Attic

They might not have the same level of fame, but they are every bit as magical and moving. Watching these movies is like finding a hidden treasure; they offer new experiences and emotions that stay with you. So, next time you’re looking for something to watch, why not dive into one of these hidden Ghibli gems? You’ll discover new stories, beautiful animation, and the timeless magic of Studio Ghibli.

What do you think about these hidden Ghibli movies? Have you seen any of them, or do you have a favorite? Leave a comment and share your thoughts! Let’s chat about the magic of Studio Ghibli together!

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