A 1999 Studio Ghibli
film directed by Isao Takahata
, My Neighbors The Yamadas
is based on a popular Japanese newspaper comic about a slightly off-kilter "typical" Japanese family composed of a mother, Matsuko, father, Takashi, grandmother, Shige, son, Noboru, and daughter, Nonoko.
An episodic Slice of Life
comedy, My Neighbors the Yamadas
could easily be misinterpreted as a Japanese version of the The Simpsons
(one could just as easily compare it to The Family Circus
without the twee or The Addams Family
without the macabre). The film is made in a very loose, caricatured style that is reminiscent of its newspaper comic origins, very different from the lush animation typically found in a Studio Ghibli
Like most Studio Ghibli
films, My Neighbors the Yamadas
was dubbed into English by Disney Studios using an all-star cast (headed by Jim Belushi, but don't let that scare you).
This film contains examples of:
- Art Shift - The scene in which Takashi, followed by Matsuko and Shige, confront the hoodlums.
- Big "NO!" - Noboru does one in the English dub as an army of Matsukos repeatedly command him to "study harder!"
- Coincidental Broadcast - When the family turn their car around and head back to the supermarket to find the missing Nonoko, a song about a lost kitten plays on their radio.
- Dom Com - the Japanese version
- Happily Married
- Hey, It's That Voice! - The English version features Agnes Skinner as Shige and Juni Cortez as Noboru. Also, David Ogden Stiers, who did voices for some '90s Disney movies and the English dub of Spirited Away, reads the title cards and philosophy quotes that occasionally appear onscreen.
- Hilarious in Hindsight - One scene in the opening Shout Out to the "Tale of the Bamboo Cutter." Guess the next premise for Takahata's next project.
- Homage - When Takashi daydreams about turning into the Masked Rider and rescuing Matsuko and Shige from kidnapping thugs.
- Honest Axe - Mostly played straight when Shige asks some kids if the ball they lost in the Yamada yard was the old worn-out one, or the new rubber one. (the scene even briefly features a storybook drawing depicting the woodcutter and the nymph) However, after she gives away both balls and shares An Aesop about honesty, some other kids ask her if she saw the new rubber ball they lost, prompting her to deny finding it.
- Imagine Spot: At least half of the movie is made up of these.
- Kansai Regional Accent: Matsuko and Shige.
- Mood Whiplash: In one scene, Shige visits a friend who was suddenly hospitalized. The friend seems bright and cheerful, gossiping about the goings-on at the hospital and showing Shige around. Until Shige asks why she is in the hospital in the first place, and the friend starts to cry, unable to keep herself together any longer. She's dying.
- Nuclear Family
- Random Events Plot
- Shout Out: In the surreal opening sequence, the newly married couple discover baby Noboru in a floating peach in the water and baby Matsuko in a bamboo tree in reference to two famous folklores.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music - As the family drives back to the mall to find their missing daughter, the car's radio plays a song about a lost kitten.
- Too Smart for Strangers - After the realization that Nonoko got left behind at the mall, Matsuko expresses hope that she will remember the advice the PTA gave: "Never, ever, ever talk to strangers." Shige calls it a stupid lesson. Indeed, Nonoko defies the mantra after meeting a lost boy who doesn't talk because of it. She gets him to say his name, went to a shoplady who then called his mother, and reunites safely with her family after spending time at his house, and having his mother call her parents to get her.