My Neighbors the Yamadas Reviews
Based on the popular Japanese comic strip, 'My Neighbor the Yamadas' is an anime family comedy that has a very unusual look from the usual Ghibli entries. Instead of the traditional anime style, the animation is a watercolor comic strip style drawn completely from digital technology (making this the first Ghibli film to be painted completely from computers). Not only does the animation give this a different feel, but the film also does not adhere to a traditional plot structure. Instead, it is a series of vignettes that account the daily lives of the Yamada family. Such sketches cover issues such as losing a child in a mall, the relationship between father and son, the wisdom of age, and getting one's first girlfriend.
The film's biggest strength is in painting a very believable picture of family life that crosses cultural borders and is accompanied by a suitable amount of charming humor. The overarching theme of the film is that despite their flaws, the family still loves each other and the parent's only posses a desire for what is best for their children.
The lack of overarching plot will certainly make this an acquired taste for even the most devoted Studio Ghibli fanatics (certainly not recommended for newcomers to the Ghibli catalogue), but 'My Neighbor the Yamadas' is a unique and touchingly honest picture of family life.
When I heard that I was gonna be watching another one of Takahata's works, I was like, "Oh, here we go, another disappointment before I get to see the real masterpiece of what people actually care about!" But in 1999, just two years prior before Miyazaki's release of his next film, I seemed to have spoken too soon when I finally got the chance to watch it in 2013. My Neighbors the Yamadas, was actually able to keep me company.
The plot is simple, we have a family called the Yamadas, the mother Matsuko (Mawt-su-ko), the father Takashi, young daughter Nonoko, older son Noburu (No-bah-rew), and Shige (Shee-gey) the wise cackling grandmother. Based on the comic book strip, "Nonoko-chan" you could probably guess that it is basically "The Peanuts" Japanese style, but actually there is more to that. There isn't much of a plot, per se, more so what family has to go through, and daily lives of the average Japanese household. I will say, that there is something about this film that relatively grew on me, I mean like it's a pretty film.
The first thing you might notice is that, the animation looks COMPLETELY changed from a regular looking animated picture, first off, I will have to say that the backdrop looks as if the drawings are still there and I don't know how they did it, but the drawing and the colors that they used is actually quite impressive, it basically told me, "You don't need to have good animation to tell a story." Animation for a while, is a practice, I mean, this is something that was invented in the late 1930s, but then I realized that, you could make animation out of anything and the fact that they made really good animation here, trying something a little new, not just something that we've seen before, and I have to say, KUDOS. This is one of the films where I actually feel like animation doesn't necessarily have to be a necessity here.
So how does the film hold out? Personally, I like it. Imagine that, I'm saying that I actually enjoy one of Takahata's works. Does it have problems? Well...
I wouldn't say the film has problems, I mean it's mostly a comedy film and there is no plot, more so a construct teaching as to what average families are like. And to be honest, I like the film. There really isn't a lot to talk about here, I guess you can say I wish the background wasn't always so white, I mean I know there trying to differ to between day or night, and maybe they do have white paint in certain Japanese houses, but, I don't know, couldn't they at least put some blue colors to point out the blue sky and that its daytime? Other than that, those are the only the problems.
The voice actors do a really good job, the animation as I said before is really good, and the music for some reason, I think is very good composition. Call it a guilty pleasure, but, I personally enjoyed this film.
If you haven't seen it check it, I'd say go check it out, but if you're kind of a animation whore, I'd say skip this till the next film. But still, I like it. Go see it if you want to.
So after many years of hard work, what could come out of Studio Ghibli next? You'll see...
Plays like a Japanese Family Sit-Com; but in very short, dry humor skits; giving it a very endearing quality. :)
Despite the fact that it's based on a Japanese family, I could easily relate it to my own family. In fact, I'd like to believe that it could appeal to most American families.
Directed by Isao Takahata, 'My Neighbor the Yamadas' is a very humorous and refreshing family film. The movie is based on a newspaper comic strip in Japan, and it consists of moments of comedy in daily family life -- think the animated Charlie Brown specials and you may have some idea of what I'm talking about. I really enjoyed 'My Neighbor the Yamadas' and really like having it in my Studio Ghibli collection, although I suspect the film may not be the right cup of tea for some people.
Enjoy anime/manga to the fullest good or bad sad or funny they get plus stars in my book
My Neighbours the Yamadas seems like the type of film that I would rejoice as a perfect product from Studio Ghibli due to the ideas and subjects that it explores and how much it reflects with my own life. I am a family oriented person, my love and gratitude for them cannot be replaced with any other person or object. Without my parents, I would not be here and without their values, I would have grown up to become a different person. I cannot imagine myself as someone else, even if it means replacing the pain and trauma that I have suffered through. Isao Takahata's My Neighbours the Yamadas explores the common blessings and pitfalls of life and family-centred relationships, but a few minor issues prevents this film from reaching the peak of excellence that Ponyo and Princess Mononoke was able to deliver.
The film was written by Isao Takahata, based off the manga authored by Hisaichi Ishii. I was impressed with Takahata's screenplay here, detailing such accurate, sprinkled with a dash of comedy, description of the life of a modern family. Though the characters are Japanese, their culture and values aren't on full display here but instead, Takahata emphasises more on the emotional aspects that are universally comprehensible. In order for the entire audience to empathise with the family, Takahata deprived the film of major crises events that would make their story unique; it would have defeated the purpose that he was trying to get across in this film. I was able to see so much of myself and my family in the Yamadas, dealing with minor issues that we struggle with every day. This film allowed me to become less selfish and start to empathise with my family's emotions as they too have their own personal difficulties and they don't need my own issues dumped on them. When my father would come home from work, maybe this time I won't spend more time viewing the television and instead use that time to discuss how his day was, this is only one example on how the film has impacted me. My problem with this film is that it runs about 20-30 minutes too long. If this film had a character driven goal that needs to be fleshed out in order to achieve it then an extended running time would be best suited but since this film is essentially plotless, then the running time should be much shorter. Its length also could pose a problem for the younger audiences as it would be difficult for them to get a grasp on the tiny details that make this film so effective.
The film's visual style is quite different and certainly a step back in terms of detail but I was content with it as Takahata and his animators clearly wanted our focus to be on the family members rather than their environment. I am always pleased with directors choosing to experiment on a film's visual style as it allows their film to not only stand out from its competitors, but also to display a sense of artistic integrity that so many films, particularly animation, seem to be lacking these days.
My Neighbours the Yamadas is an example of an animated film that takes risks with its narrative and visual style, yet giving off an overall feeling of accessibility and familiarity. I assumed by now, since I have seen most of Studio Ghibli's films, that there is nothing left in their belt that could surprise me, guess I was wrong.