Starring: Hayato Isobata, Masako Araki, Naomi Uno
Director: Isao Takahata
Running Time: 104 mins
My Neighbors The Yamadas is a Japanese film about the adventures during the daily lives of the Yamada family of five, living in the suburbs in contemporary Japan.
This is a near-perfect movie, and easily one of my favourites from Studio Ghibli. With a wonderfully relaxed and sweet tone, My Neighbours The Yamadas is full of joy from start to finish, thanks to some absolutely adorable main characters, delightfully simplistic animation, relatable and real emotional drama, and amazingly funny comedy from start to finish.
In fact, that’s the one thing that really struck me about this film. Many Ghibli movies are delightful watches, and often have a good few jokes in them, but I’ve never laughed so much in one of their film as I did here. My Neighbours The Yamadas is easily the funniest Ghibli film, but it’s also one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, simply because there were massive laughs wherever you looked, and on a brilliantly consistent basis.
So, as a comedy, this film works amazingly. However, beyond the multitude of laughs, the relentlessly sweet and adorable tone makes it such a joy to watch. I’m never one to just give into cuteness, but the child-like animation style, combined with the characters’ innocent and lovable personalities, really touched me, and from beginning to end, I was completely wrapped up in the wonderful cuteness of this film.
And the fact that the film manages to have such child-friendly cuteness and simplicity, whilst retaining a consistent barrage of incredible comedy is even more impressive, because I’ve definitely never laughed so much at a non-Pixar kids’ movie in my life; testament to just how fantastic this film is.
But there’s even more. The comedy and the cuteness are definitely enough to give you a hugely entertaining and satisfying watch, but what My Neighbours The Yamadas also does so well is tell a very relatable story about the daily lives of the average person. The film is set out as if it were a children’s storybook, moving between various adventures and occurrences that the Yamadas find themselves in, and it just works so well.
Instead of having one grandiose story arc, I was delighted by the fact that you get a series of relatable scenarios all told from different family members’ perspectives. Sometimes it’s a comical mishap, and sometimes it’s a genuinely emotional and heartfelt look at the family relationships, and each character’s deeper feelings.
Overall, I absolutely adored this film. Studio Ghibli has done incredible work with its fantasy over the years, but this film, taking a different tack and telling a real-world story full of joy and laughter everywhere, is just an incredibly entertaining watch, and that’s why I’m giving My Neighbours The Yamadas an 8.8.