Before we proceed, we wanted to have a disclaimer that we know Marnie is actually Anna’s grandmother. That revelation however was only revealed at the near end of the film. The audience witnessed Marnie and Anna together without knowing first they are related. This is the reason why many first thought that Marnie and Anna may have had a potential romance. So, in this article, we answer the question: Is When Marnie Was There an almost gay story?
We’ll be listing down the signs or any indication as to why people came up with the assumption that it is an almost gay film!
Anna’s Seemingly Mesmerized Reaction to Marnie
When Marnie and Anna first met, Anna is seen to be flustered. She has a faint blush blossoming on her cheeks. Although this could be interpreted that Anna is usually a shy and reserved girl who does not socialize often. She is probably just experiencing social awkwardness.
At the same time, we can add to the fact that Anna has seen Marnie in her dreams. So it is natural for her to feel flustered to finally meet the actual girl in front of her. She is probably trying to cope with that fact. Although it is understandable why Anna can be interpreted as mesmerized by Marnie, because the latter is undeniably very pretty.
We have seen multiple times throughout the film that Anna would blush occasionally whenever she’s with Marnie.
Adding to this is that Anna always sketches Marnie. She got Marnie’s features down to the tiniest of details – a perfect replica of the real one.
Sketching a person does not necessarily indicate romance, but in this case, we can say that Anna is drawn to Marnie. Since at this time she did not know that Marnie is her relative, we can assume that Anna seemed interested and curious.
The way Marnie first held Anna’s hands make it seem like they already share a close relationship. It is a bit strange to do it with someone you just met. They also shared a hug during their second meeting, which further hinted at their possible deeper bond.
Although at this point, the audience would assume something deeper than a plain friendship. On the other hand, new friendships can warrant affectionate touches especially if the people involved are generally open and warm.
Marnie and Anna also shared a dance, which makes up for a cute and heartwarming scene.
From these actions, it can be quite understandable that viewers may get the feeling of a potential romance. After all, the way Marnie and Anna held each other seemed a little different from friends – as it seemed more intimate. The way Marnie also waltzed with Anna is very sweet, and the ambiance is also quite romantic because of the moonlit night.
It can be argued that these touches seemed more special than those casual affections shared between friends. Best friends can still share affectionate gestures with one another as well, but Anna and Marnie have only just met at this point. Audiences still did not know they are related too.
Anna’s Jealousy Over Kazuhiko
The most telling sign of all is Anna seemed to be jealous over Kazuhiko, Marnie’s guy friend and eventual romantic partner.
This is first seen when Marnie invited Anna to her parents’ party in their house. Marnie and Anna first spent time together. Later on though, Anna noticed that Marnie started dancing with a guy named Kazuhiko.
Anna seemed bothered by this, and rushed outside to sulk. It is obvious that her mood soured when she saw Marnie gave attention to another person.
Usually, a person does not easily get jealous if their friend gives attention to others. This commonly happens in romantic relationships, not so much in platonic ones. Hence, this is why a lot of the viewers felt that Anna and Marnie may have romantic undertones in their relationship. Particularly, Anna probably has a crush on Marnie – and cannot bear to see her with someone else.
However, it is possible that a person can also get jealous of their fellow friends hanging out with others. Especially if the person has little to no friends in the past – and they may be worried that they will lose their friend. Considering that Anna never had solid friends before, this may be the case.
But we cannot deny the fact that Anna becoming jealous of Kazuhiko may have struck a different idea with other audiences. Considering their affectionate gestures and Anna’s reactions, it is easy to assume that there may be a hint of romantic feelings.
Later, when Anna accompanied Marnie to the silo, Marnie mistook the former for Kazuhiko. Anna hesitated and even contemplated accompanying Marnie further. It can be interpreted that her jealousy is resurfacing, or she is just plainly confused with what is happening.
In the end though, Anna still decided to help Marnie. She also gave the latter comfort when they were in the silo. Anna’s willingness to comfort Marnie overrides every ounce of jealousy or confusion that she has.
Read More: Is Chihiro In Love With Haku?
So, An Almost Gay Story?
To conclude this article, the intent of the film creators was never meant to show or imply a gay relationship between Anna and Marnie.
Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There is based on a 1967 novel by Joan G. Robinson with the same title. The story and themes remained the same, with only a few minor changes. Marnie is actually Anna’s grandmother, and they shared a genuine, deep friendship/companionship.
It is most likely that the romantic vibes Anna and Marnie give off are unintentional. Anna’s jealousy is just stemmed from her loneliness – as Marnie can be considered her first actual friend. The romantic subtext may also be based on the audience’s interpretations as well.
Some fans think there is a romantic vibe to it because Anna takes Kazuhiko’s place in Marnie’s memories. However, this theory may be inconsistent. For one, Marnie only mistaken Anna for Kazuhiko once. Most of the time, Marnie acknowledges Anna as Anna herself. Marnie’s diary entries also suggest that she did not dance with Kazuhiko in the moonlight – unlike what she did with Anna. Apparently, it was a nameless flower girl that Marnie danced with at that time.
It is probably because the intimacy Anna and Marnie shared that the audiences first assumed that it can be romantic. Interestingly, we can also interpret that Anna can possibly be attracted to girls. Audiences would usually refer to these certain characters as “queer-coded”. It is never explicitly stated but it is heavily implied that ‘queer-coded’ characters may be attracted to people of the same sex. Anna’s interest or reactions towards Marnie can be the basis for this.
But this will never be confirmed, unfortunately. As such, it is still fun to speculate about our favorite characters in films. Interpreting certain characters differ from other viewers as well, and that is okay.
So, to set the record straight: When Marnie Was There is not an almost gay story. It is only meant to show Anna and Marnie’s biological and intimate relation to each other. This helped Anna overcome her inner conflicts of loneliness and abandonment.