My Neighbours the Yamadas – review – Studio Ghibli Season at the BFI

Over the course of 12 days the British Film Institute (BFI) have been running a Studio Ghibli season, showing a select amount of Ghibli releases in their extremely comfy seated cinema screens. Seriously, it feels like you’re sitting on cloud. The BFI were kind enough to issue us tickets to a few of their Ghibli showings, the first being My Neighbours the Yamadas.


The film is directed by Miyazaki’s right hand man Isao Takahata who is responsible for the tear jerking realism of Grave of the Fireflies, a film that, if you haven’t seen it, will have you running for a box of tissues by its closing credit titles. My Neighbours the Yamadas boasts a throwback to hand drawn animation, an element that kick started the industry itself.

However Takahata exploited the digital possibilities that the new millennium offered using a computer generated drawing kit in order to make it look like a piece of work you’ll expect to see in a newspaper comic strip. And let me tell you this…he succeeded on every level.

The film isn’t one that first pops into your head when thinking about the success of Ghibli, in fact the simplistic look of the film tends to put many cinema viewings off. Takahata brings life to the characters, each of them as extreme as the next making you instantly fall in love with them.

The film doesn’t necessarily follow a steady storyline, rather than a collection of experiences within family life. The relatable characters add to the films charm, generating those ‘that’s exactly what my family is like’ moments. What makes My Neighbours the Yamadas stand out from any other Ghibli movies is the comedy element that runs throughout the film. Its beautiful stylistic look along with its witty charming script provides a combo for an enjoyable experience. This is one Ghibli film you must check out.

Words by Matthew Rathbone


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