The Yamadas are a typical middle class Japanese family in urban Tokyo and this film shows us a variety of episodes of their lives. With tales that range from the humourous to the heartbreaking, we see this family cope with life's little conflicts, problems and joys in their own way.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Takahata once again draws from his bottomless well of creativity.
While Miyazaki is the best known (and most successful) of the non-demon-fixated/violent-porn anime directors, his sometime producing partner and fellow Studio Ghibli alumni easily equals him in breadth of vision, commitment to art and passionate filmmaking. And although it's Miyazaki who alone seems to possess the Midas touch of his uniquely innocent, melancholic, optimistic, whimsical sensibility, Takahata has arguably pushed the envelope further back in terms of Japan's commercial animation vocabulary. Witness the neo-realism of Grave Of The Fireflies, fearless indictment of globalisation in Pon Poko, and now this utterly charming adaptation of the popular manga, My Neighbours The Yamadas, rendered in a style new to Anime features, but utterly faithful to the original text.
A series of vignettes rather than one overall plot, it is nevertheless easy to find the running time flying past you as you take in the idiosyncratic characters, semi-bizarre situations (although a moment's thought reveals that your family was probably just like this), and beautiful performances (from animators and voice artists alike), finishing with a sense of the family's strength as a unit through a love for each other that's expressed more through their tolerance of each other's peculiarities than in open declarations of affection. And like Grave Of The Fireflies and Whisper Of The Heart, a popular western song that no one of my generation (20s) would ever dream of listening to seriously is made poignant, rousing and brimming with emotion.
Ten out of ten: films this good are rare.
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