While Miyazaki Hayao is the undisputed master of grand, sweeping animated epics, Studio Ghibli co-founder Takahata Isao excels in sensitive storytelling and delicately capturing human emotions and experiences. In films like Grave of the Fireflies
, Pom Poko
, and Only Yesterday
, the acclaimed director shows his ability to express a range of sentiments and experiences, and astutely portray the bittersweet changes of life. In his films, one can always find a sense of quiet sincerity and social responsibility. His 1999 work My Neighbors the Yamadas
, his last feature film to date, is the simplest, and perhaps most charming, offering to come from Studio Ghibli.
Based on Ishii Hisaichi's comic strip Nono-chan, the film details a series of amusing episodes in the lives of the quirky, yet normal Yamada family. Cooking curry again, getting lost at the mall, studying for exams, gossiping at a restaurant, visiting the hospital, conversations, arguments, memories - the film winkingly and meanderingly observes the daily goings of the family, with a gentle touch of humor and humanity. Retaining the comic's aesthetic, the animation is rendered in simple strokes and bathed in soft colors, with back-to-the-basics line drawings that are mischievously expressive. My Neighbors the Yamadas offers a completely different visual experience than other Studio Ghibli films, while retaining that same Ghibli magic.
Blu-ray Edition comes with a 45-minute documentary originally made for Nippon Television, storyboards, dubbing script, and promotion video. In addition to the original Japanese soundtrack, the Blu-ray also includes the English, German, Korean, and Mandarin dubs of the film.