One of the things I enjoy about Studio Ghibli's films, and a lot of Japanese animation in general, is their naturalistic approach to character designs. You can see how strongly manga comics influence the art form in many ways. In America, the everything is filtered through the lens of caricature, with the same exaggerated limbs, the same spindly arms and legs, from one movie to the next. And, of course, the shadow of Walt Disney towers over everything.
With the more recent Ghibli productions, there has been a tendency to create a homoginized look, a generic "Miyazaki" house style. You see the same kind of body types and faces in The Cat Returns, Arrietty the Borrower, From Up on Poppy Hill, and the Playstation 3 videogame, Ni no Kuni. It's understandable, since, after all, Ghibli operates largely to create Hayao Miyazaki movies. But for other directors, it results in a watered-down, copycat look. I think that's one key reason why Arrietty and Poppy Hill were both personal disappoints for me.
I like Hiromasa Yonebayashi's visual style, both as an artist and a director. When Marnie Was There is just distinctive enough to stand apart from the recent pack. I'm reminded of the late, great Yoshifumi Kondo, who was a master of character and visual design. The clean lines, matched to natural body types, portrayed against those Impressionist and Expressionst backgrounds that are a Ghibli trademark - it looks terrific. I honestly wonder why Western animators and artists don't follow this approach. Whenever I see an American "anime-style" cartoon, I just cringe.
I'm really looking forward to seeing Marnie in theaters this Spring. I feel more upbeat about this movie than any of the non-Miyazaki/Takahata Studio Ghibli features since Kondo.