The Order of Ghiblis #09 - My Neighbours the Yamadas
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My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999)
"The Yamadas 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 pesty daughter whose loud voice is unusual for someone so small. Even the family dog has issues!"
The Yamada's are awesome! That is, the family themselves. The movie, is very very different to your usual Ghibli fare, and I can see it going either way in peoples eyes. It's based on a Japanese comic strip and follows the incredibly normal but relatable goings on of a normal Japanese family. The art style is very comic strip style, with a lot of blank white space and not much background. Despite this it still manages to convey the feelings and situations of the Yamada's in great detail, and allows for different types of flourishes in the animation.
The characters themselves are likable, and everyone will recognise at least one of the situations depicted in the movie, like dealing with noisy kids in the street or being late for work. It's a nice and sincere look into Japanese family life, but I don't think this would appeal to kids as much as most other Ghibli works, and having an interest in general Japanese culture also definitely helps. It's also structured as a series of shorts within the movie, so each scene is a seperate and unconnected story, which repeats throughout the 1hr 44m runtime.
Overall, not a bad watch, though we felt it definitely overstayed it's welcome, with this being one of the few times we were checking watches while viewing.
Now seems a good time to point out that even the worst of the Ghibli movies is still better than most other movies, just due to the consistently high quality they have put out over the past decades. That's probably a bit of a giveaway.
We loved the Yamada family, but just think the format here is wrong. An almost 2 hour runtime of short scenes definitely feels too long. I would absolutely love it if these were 5-10min shorts that were put at the beginning of every Ghibli movie a la Pixar. Or if they were short Saturday morning cartoons that were easy to watch and then there could be hundreds of episodes and I'd probably watch them all and love them.
But as a full cohesive 1h44m movie, it just doesn't really work compared to the others on the list, so Arrietty finally gets off the bottom of The Order, as the Yamada's sit at our new #9
NEW FULL ORDER
1. My Neighbour Totoro
2. Kiki's Delivery Service
3. Laputa Castle in the Sky
4. Whisper of the Heart
5. Howl's Moving Castle
6. Grave of the Fireflies
7. Cat Returns
9. [NEW] My Neighbours the Yamadas