Posted by psgels on 8 November 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews

This may be me, who hasn’t looked in the right places, but one thing I’ve noticed after checking out various anime movies is that there are nearly no good comedies among them. Most of them are dramas or thrillers, but I’ve yet to see a truly funny movie, despite how the movie-format seems perfect for this, as there’s less chance that the creators will run out of jokes to use when compared to tv-series.

My Neighbours The Yamadas is probably one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in anime, but still the comedic value is nowhere near that of series like Gintama, Excel Saga and Pani Poni Dash, to just name a few examples. Basically, it follows the everyday life of the Yamada-family, portrayed in a quirky way. Isao Takahata is the director, and indeed there’s lots of realism in this movie, and just like Only Yesterday, you’ll be able to find lots of scenes to identify to.

Unfortunately, this movie may have the good elements of a Takahata-movie, it also has the bad ones. Yet again, it goes on for too long, and yet again, I’ve seen no reason to emotionally connect with the characters. For some reason, I just couldn’t get myself to care about the characters. Those who saw Only Yesterday might recall ten minutes, being devoted to a character eating a pineapple; My Neighbours the Yamada’s does this with a banana. It’s realistic, I know; but I just can’t call it exciting.

One thing that also immediately falls to your attention when you look at the screenshots is the unusual art style. It might be a bit awkward at first, but it does work well enough. The animation is better than you’d think, and what you’d expect from a movie. There are also a few Miyazaki-influences here and there, where the surrealistic undertones start to take over and the characters get carried away in their imagination. The music isn’t anything special, though. It’s just simple, and what you can hear on an average tv-series as well.

I know I’ve been encouraging realism a lot in my latest reviews, but realism alone doesn’t make a good movie. Seirei no Moribito understood this, and it created an excellent atmosphere that sparkled with realism and yet had more than enough tension to make you care about the characters. Random antics of a family are fun and al, but the lack of a point becomes more obtrusive as I think about it. Studio Ghibli may have created a lot of memorable gems, for me, this isn’t one of them. If you want to see the antics of ordinary families, a better choice would be to check out Rumiko Takahashi’s Rumic Theatre.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar DS says:

    The Yamadas is actually my favorite Ghibli film! I don’t look at it as a real lol comedy, instead it’s more about the atmosphere of family life that it captures so well. The whole is probably greater than the sum of its parts (although the parts are often very good indeed!)

    There are many sentimental scenes that are excellent and not over-done. And the speech near the end at the wedding really sums up a lot of what the point of the movie is. This is not only one of the greatest anime films, but one of the greatest films period, ever.

    The music is simple, but effective (like that in Azumanga Daioh) and the use of the final song is quite moving. By mentioning it, you make me want to watch the movie again!

  2. Avatar Wyrdwad says:

    Have you ever seen any of the “Ghiblies” shorts? If not, I highly recommend them… I think you’d get more enjoyment out of those than out of Yamadas. It’s the same sort of thing as Yamadas, only more… artful. For lack of a better word. (:


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