My Neighbours the Yamadas (Hôhokekyo tonari no Yamada-kun) (Studio Ghibli) (1999)

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Released 18-Oct-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Storyboards
Trailer-Howl's Moving Castle
Trailer-The Studio Ghibli Collection
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 103:24
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:38) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Isao Takahata
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Yukiji Asaoka
Toru Masuoka
Masako Araki
Naomi Uno
Akiko Yano
Chocho Miyako
Tamao Nakamura
Yasuko Tomita
Akiko Yano
Hiroyuki Morita
James Belushi
Molly Shannon
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Akiko Yano
Hiroyuki Morita


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Titling
English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Yamadas are an average family living in Tokyo, with hilarious everyday problems that anybody could relate to. The father, Takashi, commutes daily to his office job while the mother and grandmother stay at home to watch over their two children Nonoko and Noboru. We're given an insight into their interactions via twenty short vignettes, each capturing the ups and downs of family life with a message that is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Being a parent myself, I found all of the stories very easy to relate to, which only serves to increase the hilarity of it all. Despite the obvious cultural differences between Japan and other western countries, it is immensely refreshing to find that regrettable mistakes like losing a child in the shopping mall or simply fighting over the remote control is a common trait that we all share.

    This is not your average Studio Ghibli animated film, largely due to the simple style of the animation and the humour. The animation is essentially comprised of simple line drawings combined with some rough colour rendering to produce a look that can only be described as unique. The Yamadas is actually derived from a very popular Japanese comic strip created and drawn by Hisaichi Ishii. The comic strip is now in its tenth year of publication in the Japanese newspaper the 'Asashi Shinbun'. Director Isao Takahata (The Grave of the Fireflies) intended to retain the appearance of the comic and its humour, and he has certainly succeeded.

    This DVD includes both the original Japanese soundtrack and an English alternative, which is activated by default. The English soundtrack is very good, my preferred actually, and features the voice talents of James Belushi as the father Takashi and Molly Shannon.

    This is a classic animated film, immensely enjoyable and suitable for the whole family. I recommend it highly.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Unfortunately, this transfer is yet another NTSC conversion in the Region 4 Studio Ghibli Collection. In addition to the runtime being identical to NTSC versions in other regions, NTSC conversion artefacts are apparent from the first few minutes of the film. The slow moving pan during film's opening at 1:28 shows doubled, ghosted frames betraying the NTSC source. I'll simply reiterate the comments I made in my previous reviews of these Studio Ghibli titles. It's clear that converting these films to PAL is introducing unsightly artefacting, so why not release them in NTSC? Columbia Tri-Star's Region 4 release of The Triplets of Belleville looks fantastic and proves that animated titles can be successfully released in Region 4 in their native NTSC. Please, if an NTSC master is all that's available, release it on DVD unconverted and let my equipment do the processing.

    The transfer is presented in the film's intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. As with the other Studio Ghibli releases, the image is windowboxed on all sides of the frame, appearing as a thick black border. This presentation appears to be consistent with other regions.

    For animation that consists mainly of line drawings, the level of sharpness is adequate. There are very few jagged edges present, and these are the result of the limited NTSC source. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    The colouring of this film is generally soft and pastel-like. The rendering of the animation is fantastic and there doesn't appear to have been any colour inconsistencies introduced in the transfer to DVD.

    Aside from the video artefact nasties that were introduced during the conversion from NTSC to PAL, this is a good transfer. MPEG compression artefacting is completely absent, as are film artefacts such as dust and dirt.

    Three English subtitle streams are on the disc - these included standard English subtitles and a very similar English stream for the hard of hearing. A default subtitle stream is activated to translate any Japanese text on screen. The subtitles are well paced and easy to read. The font is yellow with a black outline.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9 formatted), with the layer transition placed between scenes at 66:38. Only the soundtrack score is briefly interrupted.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD. The default soundtrack is English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), while the film's original Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) soundtrack can be selected manually.

    The English dialogue is always clear and seems to match the character's movements quite well. Although I understand very little Japanese, the dialogue was similarly balanced and easy to discern in the mix. I didn't notice any audio sync issues.

    The use of the surround channels extends to atmospherics and the like and in a film such as this I wouldn't expect much more. At 13:00 the rear channels come to life with shopping centre muzak as the family enter a mall, and again at 97:50 when fireworks erupt on screen. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel.

    In comparing the two language options, I found the Japanese considerably louder. The overall surround activity, depth and brightness of these soundtracks is identical, so your preference of audio will most likely depend only on your language choice. Personally, I found the father's voice characterisation much too young in the Japanese soundtrack so I had no problem listening to the default English alternative.

    The film's score is light, jazzy and piano-based, which suits the mood of the piece brilliantly. It's the kind of subtle accompaniment that could easily pass by unnoticed by many viewers.

    The subwoofer is used to augment the lower registers of the soundtrack score, which is carried with ease. Being a dialogue-based film, there isn't a lot of call for subwoofer activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu pages are 16x9 enhanced and are very subtly animated.

My Neighbors The Yamadas Trailer Collection (16:10)

    This is a rather lengthy reel of trailers and promo spots, all with burned-in English subtitles. These are not 16x9 enhanced.

Storyboard Gallery

    This is a simple black and white gallery containing six-hundred and forty-four (644) storyboard layouts for the film. Some are small, so the detail is very hard to make out on screen. These menu pages are 16x9 enhanced, but there's no musical accompaniment so it gets rather bland after a while.

Trailers (2)

    Trailers are also included for the brilliant Howl's Moving Castle (1.38) and The Studio Ghibli Collection (11:43). Neither are 16x9 enhanced.

Reversible Cover Slick

    What do you do when the spine of your Studio Ghibli Collection suddenly has brightly coloured ratings logos that don't match the earlier titles in the collection? Easy, just flip the slick over to reveal alternate cover art without any ratings logo propaganda.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 NTSC release includes an additional featurette; Behind The Microphone (5:31). As with the other Region 1 Studio Ghibli titles, this featurette looks at the recording of the film's English soundtrack.

    The Region 2 NTSC (Japanese) disc omits the English soundtrack but includes the following additional features:

    English subtitles are included, but the Region 2 NTSC disc is rather pricey. Personally, I'd recommend either NTSC transfer of this film over our local product's inferior video quality.

Summary

    My Neighbours The Yamadas is a unique and joyous film that is accessible enough for all ages.

    The video transfer is, like the other Region 4 Studio Ghibli titles, sourced from an NTSC master. Rather than release the film in NTSC, the disc's authors are introducing ugly artefacts into the image by performing an unnecessary conversion to PAL.

    The audio transfers include both English and Japanese soundtracks.

    The extras consist of storyboard art and trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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