Join in the adventures of the quirky Yamada family—from the hilarious to the touching±brilliantly presented in a unique, visually striking comic strip style. Takashi Yamada and his wacky wife Matsuko, who has no talent for housework, navigate their way through the ups and downs of work, marriage and family life with a sharp-tongued grandmother who lives with them, a teenage son who wishes he had cooler parents, and a pesky daughter whose loud voice is unusual for someone so small. Even the family dog has issues!
Story: 10 (Refreshing family story thats not cliche)
Art: 8 (Very unique, take on the comedy style)
Sound: 7 (Average slice of life/comedy effects)
Character: 10 (resembles my family almost perfectly)
Enjoyment: 10 (everything in this movie i can relate to)
Overall: 45/50 = 9.0 (Excellent anime for family time)
I managed to stumble upon this gem of a show simply by walking in the wrong film room at the Anime Expo. Man, if i didn't walk in that room I would have never discovered how great of a show this was. It's not your typical movie style movie, instead, its told in a dozen or so situations all involving
one family: the Yamadas.
Theres no deep evolving plot or intriguing storyline to look forward too. It's simply a nice slice of life movie about the daily lives of the five members in this household. It's main highlights of the show is how they tell portray common situations that occur in a majority of average households. Things like how parents use swindle their kids into doing chores, or manage to convince someone going to the store to get things for you because you're too lazy. All these situations are average everyday things that we normally don't find humorous (and they usually piss us off). But when watching it from a different viewpoint, we realize that such things are so ridiculous yet true that we have no choice but to laugh because we know those situations all too well.
The art work is something else as well. In typical ghibli fashion, it goes for its own unique style and manages to make the super simple in to something that one can only call it a masterpiece. You can see the pen strokes, and watercolors and errors everywhere, it almost looks like someone just scratched it together out of someones notebook. But there are some scenes that run amazingly smooth (aka high frame rate). A good example are the TV shows they end up watching. It looks so simple yet, it moves with a fluidity that is only comparable to real TV broadcasts. Of course some people will think the art is the worst they've ever seen and say that they can even do a better job. But theres something about the simplicity that just makes it so wonderful. I just can't pinpoint that exact reason why.
The sound effects are all standard fare. Nothing wrong with them at all. Most of the sound consists of household sound effects and such. But where the sound effects gets its most use is from the voice acting.
Since I was living in a pretty full household (grandparents, mom, her brother and two sisters, and 1 cousin) I can easily relate to how this family interacts with each other. It's comical how exactly their emotions and how they talk to each other emulate my family. Including the grunts and groans and such and backtalk all make it so wonderful and interesting to watch.
Just like any Studio Ghibli film, this is a perfect movie to watch with the whole family. As a matter of fact I highly recommend watching this with the whole family, and point out things that they do just like the Yamada's. This isn't a show to watch just for the sake of watching. After watching it twice its clear that this show has the potential of bringing families together with all the conversation and interaction that can be happening while viewing this movie.
Despite being a fan of Studio Ghibli, this release somehow passed my by. Today, I'm adding it to my "re-watch" list, somewhere near the top. Whatever you may think anime is, throw it out the window, this is not a typical show.
You watch the first few minutes thinking that it's the credits and you wait until you realise, this isn't the credits, it's the story! The unique style of animation throws you in for a loop, but it's not bad. Yes, it's simple, more like a moving comic strip than animation, but simple does not mean sloppy. Each line and curve of the drawings
is thought out and perfectly placed and the motion smooth. You can't help but like the characters, the director perhaps explores their stereotypical side - the salary-man dad, slightly lazy stay at home wife, reluctant student son, cute as a button younger daughter and grandmother with a sharp tongue - but that's what makes it funny.
The story is told in snippets, sometimes interrupted by metaphors or one of the character's recollection of an event past, all wrapped up neatly by humour: sometimes a great belly laugh and sometimes a gentle smile. The movie leaves you feeling good and, somehow, cuddled. Perfect family viewing; I suspect that one appreciates this movie more as the time goes by.
I find it refreshing and warm. I have thought of giving it to my friends as gift on their wedding/wedding anniversary since it's about family, being a spouse, being a parent, being a child and grandchild and being an daughter/son in-law.
As a Studio Ghibli fan, I make it a point to watch all their movies, not only because I it's a Studio Ghibli but I get surprised every time I watch one.
And although this is a less popular work of Isao Takahata, as compared to The Grave of Fireflies, and Kaguyahime, I don't agree that this is "lesser" than the other Studio Ghibli works.
Of all the movies Studio Ghibli has produced, "My Neighbers the Yamadas" could probably be the most unconventional of them all. This family comedy feels like a very jarring change of pace for director Isao Takahata, the man who gave us a heartbreaker in "Grave of the Fireflies" and a docudrama fantasy oddity called "Pom Poko"
For one thing, the feature is not--I repeat, IS NOT--plot-oriented. It comes across as a series of individual skits involving the titular family in their day-to-day life. The lack of a narrative may put off people beforehand, but doing so could very well deprive you of a most delightful--and refreshingly
original--viewing experience. Watching how the Yamadas interact and go about life is every bit as poignant, funny, and off-the-walls as real family life can be; not only are we treated to disputes on who gets to watch TV, but we get to see stories such as the youngest sister, Nonoko, getting accidentally left behind at a shopping mall and all the trouble her parents go to in order to find her. The movie also relishes in silliness and surrealism--especially in the sequences where Mr. Yamada imagines himself as a superhero rescuing his wife and mother-in-law from crooks and the showclosing "Que Sara Sara", where the family floats through the sky on balloons. All these random events unfold at a roller coaster pace.
What I enjoyed most about the movie was the way it looks and sounds. For "Yamadas", the animation is produced in a newspaper comic strip style, which, given that this is what the movie was based on, is an ingenious match for its nature. Simplistic scribblings straight out of a serial fill the screen with a charm that is utterly irresistible. The catchy, tuneful score adds to the essence of the whimsical atmosphere. Employing bits of famous classical pieces on the soundtrack (such as Mahler's First Symphony, Mendelssohn's Wedding March, and Leopold Mozart's Toy Symphony) is a very inspiring touch.
There was only one thing about the movie that I found very confusing: at the end of most of the "segments" present in the film, we see what appears to be a quote taken from various poets. I was also unclear about the "pachinko" references, and the scene where Mr. Yamada is throwing cards down for his family left me puzzled. This is obviously a film steeped in Japanese culture--and one that is more likely to be understood by a Japanese speaking audience.
Which brings me to the biggest problem I have with the Disney dub: while English script writers Eric Garcia and Leo Chu earn points for attempting to remain as faithful to the original material as possible, they do so in exchange for making any effort in presenting this story to a wider audience who would be otherwise unfamiliar with the heavy references to Japanese culture. That alone makes "My Neighbors the Yamadas" the weakest of the Disney-Ghibli dubs I have heard thus far.
This is not to say that the dub isn't worth watching, however--on the contrary. While the script lacks coherency in places--although the writing is very amusing and very entertaining overall--I have no problems with Disney's selection of actors to record the voices. The incomparable James Belushi takes on the role of Mr. Yamada with exuberance and enthusiasm, and Molly Shannon voices his wife, Mrs. Yamada, with just the right mixture of sweetness and no-nonsense demeanor; the scene where Mr. and Mrs. Yamada argue over who gets to watch the TV is delivered with dead-on comic timing and believability--making this moment one of the dub's best moments. Young child performers Daryl Sabara and Liliana Mumy play the Yamada siblings, Noboru and Nonoko, whose interactions are so natural that you'll swear that they recorded their lines together--which, as a matter of fact, they did!... well, for the cookie scene, anyway. Tress MacNeille, a multi-talented voice actress best known for roles in shows such as "Tiny Toon Adventures" and "Animaniacs", has been cast in many of the Studio Ghibli English productions, and it is a treat to hear her another--she nails the crotchety old Grandma Shige to a T and beyond. David Ogden Stiers makes a brief appearance in the movie as well, narrating the titles of the various "segments" in addition to the verses displayed at the end of each episode.
Steeped in heavy references to Japanese culture and atypical of animated features mainstream viewers are used to, "My Neighbors the Yamadas" may have a hard time finding its audience; the film was not a great success in Japan, and at this point it is hard to tell whether it will suffer the same fate in America. However, it is highly unlikely that folks seeking creativity and something different from the norm will go wrong by discovering this delightfully inventive and charming film.