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My Neighbors The Yamadas Blu-ray Review

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“My Neighbors The Yamadas” is a charming animated comedy.

“My Neighbors The Yamadas” is not your average Studio Ghibli film in many respects. The animation style is not done in the standard anime form. Instead, it comes off as minimalistic at times and like a moving series of comic book panels at others. Secondly, the story is not traditional in that it has a beginning, middle, and end as it is essentially comprised of a series of vignettes revolving around the titular family. The family is made up of the father (Takashi), the mother (Matsuko), the son (Noboru), the daughter (Nonoko) and the grandmother (Matsuko’s mother Shige). Throughout the course of the film, we get to know the Yamadas through a series of adventures involving Nonoko being left at a shopping center, marital squabbles, family bonding, daydreams, seasonal changes, food, forgetfulness, and bikers.

Writer/director Isao Takahata has long been an accomplished director, writer and producer of anime films and TV series so it shouldn’t be surprising that “My Neighbors The Yamadas” is a delightful look at family dynamics. What makes ‘Yamadas’ work so well is that it goes against the grain in terms of storytelling and even animation by doing its own thing. It almost has a fly-on-the-wall approach as we observe the family’s squabbles and everyday routines. You really get to learn about this family and, in turn, you start to see your own family through them as the film feels very identifiable and real. Yes, there are some vivid and surreal dreamlike sequences here (love that bobsled cake bit!), but they fit with the movie.

If I had one complaint it’s that Nonoko hardly has any screentime here in comparison to the rest of the characters. I don’t know if that was a conscious choice, but it seems odd while you’re watching the movie as she should have been apart of more scenes and segments.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The hi-def transfer really showcases the artistry that goes into each frame.

Audio Track: Japanese and English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Purists will likely go for the original language Japanese track and it’s hard to argue with that choice, but I’m actually rather fond of the English track here which has pitch perfect casting.

Extras: DVD copy, Trailers, TV spots, original storyboards, a “Behind The Microphone” featurette featuring the English voice cast and a booklet that includes photos, a blurb and statement by Toshio Suzuki and a statement by director Isao Takahata.

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January 12, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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