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My Neighbours the Yamadas

(Hôhokekyo tonari no Yamada-kun) ホーホケキョとなりの山田くん
Japan 1999. Director: Isao Takahata
Voices: Tôru Masuoka, Yukiji Asaoka, Masako Araki, Hayato Isohata, Naomi Uno

In a departure from the frequently mythical storytelling of Studio Ghibli, director Isao Takahata wryly tweaks the everyday activities of family life with his depiction of the irresponsible, slovenly, and lazy Yamada family and their unassuming way of life. With cartoon-like characters and visual design unlike anything else in the Ghibli canon, the film is illustrated in a series of rough sketches and outlines, which are then filled with soft colors that evoke watercolour painting. My Neighbours the Yamadas is based on a yonkoma (comic-strip) manga by Hisaichi Ishii, and was the first Ghibli film to be created entirely on computers, an approach Takahata took in order to achieve its watercolour look. “A rarely-seen gem ... A delightfully offbeat example of Ghibli’s focus on the intricacies of human relationships and the intersections of past and present” (TIFF Cinematheque). Colour, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles. 104 mins.