The life and misadventures of a family in contemporary Japan.
Having almost watched everything on the Hayao Miyazaki list, my family’s going through the rest of the Studio Ghibli discography. We’d been eyeing My Neighbours the Yamadas for some time now and my brother and I gave it as a gift to my mum for Christmas 🙂
Gosh, this movie. It’s hilarious and sweet and it honestly reminds me of my family with its insanity and just getting through the day. It touches on a lot of issues, from parent-child bonding to forgetfulness to life of a couple married for many years. It’s really easy to slip into the lives of the Yamadas, laughing with them as they all forget something one particular day after eating too much ginger to cringing as Tamaki struggles to give a speech to newlyweds after being handed the wrong note. Between stories are haikus from various composers that reflect the tone of the stories presented.
The family members are all wonderful in their own way, from the gruff patriarch Tamaki to the sweet youngest daughter Nonoko. Tamaki and Matsuko’s relationship is wonderfully presented, from their rivalry over the television set to reminding each other to do things. Noboru, the oldest son, is a dreamer but struggles with his studies, but he always has something to say. And the grandmother Shige (Matsuko’s mother) is someone not to mess with, haha. Oh, and let’s not forget the family dog, Pochi, who reminds me of Snoopy and the wonderful cats you often see in a Miyazaki film 😛
The animation is simple but gorgeous. There’s a fantastical depiction early in the film to denote the wedding speech given that was quite wonderful, providing animators with a range of scenes to work with. But ultimately the art style reflects the life of the Yamadas, its ups and downs, happiness and busy-ness.
My Neighbours the Yamadas is a wonderful film that’s delightful and for the whole family. You’ll laugh, but it’s also very relatable one way or the other, the few quieter moments really reflective of life and changing times. I cannot recommend it enough 🙂