After Miyazaki's work on Princess Mononoke, he decided to work on this huge project that took him at least four years to make. That's another review, but with Studio Ghibli done with Princess Mononoke, they did need a bit of time to keep the people at least occupied with something, more so to the point that they had to learn how to use a new animation system since technology was drastically catching up with them and people were using computers everywhere. While this film was currently in production, Isao Takahata was working on a film while Miyazaki was to complete his masterpiece.
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...