My Neighbors the Yamadas: Simple, Funny, and Slightly Strange

Jenny and I don’t buy too much useless crap. Aside from healthcare which seems to only cover bites from extinct spiders, we try to watch our money carefully.

A few months ago, we did buy a DVD collection of Studio Ghibli movies. This purchase was only made because I had a 15-year-old eBay gift card. And in case you’re wondering, yes the card was incredibly rebellious and deviant for the last four years as all teenage gift cards become.

We have a lot of catching up to do with reviewing Studio Ghibli movies. We’ve watched several already, with one of the more unique ones in the collection being My Neighbors the Yamadas.

my neighbors the yamadas
The unique artwork gives this film a character all its own; and likely saved the Japanese version of Harvey Weinstein a lot of money.

If you don’t know, Studio Ghibli is the darker, Japanese version of Disney. It may not have the fun musical numbers or the tight, familiar stories, but it is made up of some incredibly original creativity. They deal with real issues like war and loss.

My Neighbors the Yamadas (MNtY as the kids call it) is a lot different from the rest. Its target audience isn’t necessarily children. Well, some children are probably the demographic. Like those kids who grow up thinking they’re something special. So those of us born after 1980, this is right for us.

This isn’t a film with a linear storyline. Instead, the Yamadas is shorter stories similar to a comic strip. The focus is on the Yamada Family consisting of a father, mother, grandmother, a son around 12, and a daughter closer to 5. We see into their lives and how life is not always perfect even from the viewpoint of a young girl–the imagination that ties the whole series of shorts together.

A few notable actors lend their voices to the English-dubbed version. John Belushi’s less liked brother, Superstar from Saturday Night Live, the kid from Spy Kids, and Principal Skinner’s mom are all included in the cast. I can’t be bothered to learn any of their names. If only I could openly say that to more people, not just celebrities.

neighbors yamadas
Jenny and I have tried this trick on each other plenty.

Many interested in Studio Ghibli movies may choose to skip this one because of how different it is. To those, I suggest going back and giving this one a chance. It’s not the best, but it is the rarest of the bunch. It’s not heartbreaking like Grave of Fireflies or a wondrous adventure like Spirited Away. This is a funny little movie anyone with a family can relate to.

So unless you’re Eleven from Season One of Stranger Things, see it.

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