Japanese Title: Tonari no Yamada-kun
Similar: Kaasan: Mom’s Life
Watched in: Japanese
Genre: Slice of Life
Length: 1 hr. 44 min. movie
- Charming life stories
- Cute picture book art
- Easy lessons for kids
- Might not have much appeal to older audiences
Today’s review will be a short one, as I’m working a massive triple review for release in the next few weeks. This time, we look at one of Studio Ghibli’s lesser-known films, My Neighbors the Yamadas.
It follows the lives of a quirky Japanese family, telling life stories in a series of vignettes. It covers subjects such as where children come from (incorporates the myths of the stork and the bamboo) and secrets to a happy marriage. It talks of the importance in working together as a family team, otherwise you’ll be surrounded by sharks before you know it. This film loves it’s visual metaphors and are what make it engaging to watch, even as an adult.
The family are an interesting cast of characters. My favourite is the grandmother who has been around long enough not to care what other people think. She speaks her mind and imparts sage advice on those around her. The father is a typical salaryman and a good husband. He and his wife make a daggy couple that their teenage son wishes were much cooler. Then we have the daughter, a bundle of joy and innocence. Super adorable.
The lessons are a little more geared towards children, explaining life concepts in easy to understand ways, though they aren’t particularly complex. The visuals alone do a good job of conveying the messages. If nothing else, My Neighbors the Yamadas will facilitate a conversation between children and their parents about some of the tougher questions.
On the flip side, I don’t see much appeal for anyone outside of children or parents. For myself, I enjoyed the art and animation most, the metaphors and ideas, but I won’t push this as essential viewing. It’s a charming film for those looking to complete the Ghibli collection.
Art – High
This animated picture book has the perfect style for this children’s story. A little rough and unpolished around the edges.
Sound – High
The acting is great. Even the kids, played by real children, are a success and add a charming innocence to the cast.
Story – High
The daily life of the quirky Yamada family is an endearing slice of life perfect for parents to watch with their kids.
Overall Quality – High
Recommendation: For kids and parents. My Neighbors the Yamadas explains life in an easy manner for children to understand, while also offering entertainment to parents. However, if you don’t fall into either group, then this isn’t necessary viewing.
Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)