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Anime / My Neighbors the Yamadas

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A 1999 Studio Ghibli film directed by Isao Takahata, My Neighbors The Yamadas is based on a popular Japanese newspaper comic Nono Chan about a slightly off-kilter "typical" Japanese family composed of mother Matsuko, father Takashi, grandmother Shige, son Noboru, and daughter Nonoko.

Something of a Creator's Oddball for both Takahata and the studio, it's an episodic Slice of Life comedy, and a Dom Com. The art has a very loose, caricatured style reminiscent of its newspaper comic origins, which made it stand out from the lush animation typical of Ghibli's films. It's also their first film to be animated entirely digitally.

Like most Ghibli films, My Neighbors the Yamadas was dubbed into English by Disney Studios using an all-star cast (headed by James Belushi, but don't let that scare you).


  • Art Shift: The biker segment, which features a significantly more detailed and shaded style to match the serious tone. At least until Matsuko and Shige show up and restore normalcy.
  • 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.
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • Homage: When Takashi daydreams about turning into Moonlight Mask (called "Moonlight Rider" in the dub) 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.
  • Humble Pie: During the Biker arc, Takashi is sent to send the bikers away, and not only does he fail, but Matsuko and Shige also end up bailing him out. The whole affair leaves him dismayed and wistfully imagining himself as a superhero biker who could save his family. He ultimately redeems himself as a man when he personally improvs an entire best man speech to newlywed friends after his wife hands him a shopping list instead of his script.
  • Imagine Spot: At least half of the movie is made up of these.
  • 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. Though nothing's outright said, it's pretty clear that she's dying.
  • Nuclear Family
  • Out of Focus: Despite Nonoko being a main character, she only stars in one segment (getting left behind at the mall), and for the rest of the film, barely appears and is only used as a background character. This is hilariously ironic given that in the original manga, she was such a Breakout Character that the manga would make her the main character and be renamed to Nono-Chan a year prior to this film.
  • Random Events Plot: The film largely consists of a series of Slice of Life vignettes that have little connection to each other, as opposed to a cohesive narrative like Studio Ghibli's other films.
  • Shout-Out: In the surreal opening sequence, the newly married couple discover baby Noboru in a floating peach in the water and baby Nonoko in a bamboo tree in reference to two famous folktales.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: Around the end of the film, the characters start singing "Que Sera Sera".
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: For the most part, the film lies on the idealistic side.
  • 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, then goes to a shoplady who then calls his mother. Sometimes, talking to strangers can be helpful!