My Neighbors the Yamadas is probably one of the more obscure releases we will cover. This is true, most importantly, because it lacks the fantasy aspects of the typical Studio Ghibli film and is a simple sketch style that doesn’t appeal to everyone. Me, on the other hand, I love that stuff and thought it was great!
My Neighbors the Yamadas is directed by Isao Takahata and it doesn’t have an over-arching plot. In many ways it felt like Japan’s answer to The Simpsons. It is episodic like a TV show and tells the story of a family called the Yamadas, which includes Takashi (Dad), Matsuko (Mom), Noboru (Brother), Nonoko (Sister), and Grandmother (Shige Yamono)
Each of the episodes is about 5 minutes, and each teaches a little lesson about family life and marriage. For example, one called ‘Father Son Bondings’ is about the attempts Takashi makes to spend time with his son Noboru including awkward games of catch. You also have incidents any family can relate to like when Nonoko gets lost at the mall or when Takashi and Matsuko have an epic battle over the TV remote, as all good marriages must. It’s just so delightful and engaging to watch this nutty family!
I personally loved the art style, how it flowed and looked like a watercolor painting. It’s refreshing to see something different from Studio Ghibli. I like that both Miyazaki and Takahata have their own vision for films and what they should look like. This may be the most adorable Studio Ghibli film. It’s certainly right up there with Ponyo or My Neighbor Totoro.
The US dub was actually fair, including such voices as James Belushi, Molly Shannon, Daryl Sabara and Tress MacNeille. The dialogue is very snappy and funny. You will particularly laugh a lot of dry wit between Takashi and the grandmother Shiege. They were very funny together.
It’s a pretty simple movie, but if the trailer and these images look appealing to you then give it shot. I am certainly glad I did!
Have you seen ‘My Neighbors the Yamadas’?
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden