Worth A Look: My Neighbours the Yamadas

This is an animation that's a bit different from what I'm used to. I liked it. The Yamadas are a quirky Japanese family: a boy, a girl, Mum and Dad, and Grandma, and modern life. It's the way the stories are told that make it interesting. The graphics are simple and pastel, like TV shows for preschoolers, but the use of them is sophisticated. The opening sequence, for instance, has a child's voice announcing that her drawing is the sun, and the moon, and a mountain, but the mountain's outline becomes Grandma's face. My favourite bit is the sequence where Grandma is giving advice on married life, and the animation does all kinds of tricks to illustrate what she is saying. It starts with a wedding cake in which the newly weds must take control of a toboggan, steer it down the wedding cake and out to sea where the waves may become rough and toss their little boat around. Part of this sequence involves the parents finding their son in a peach, and the girl in a bamboo. These are references to old, Japanese folk tales. Peach boy here and Princess Kaguya here

The Yamadas are as low key as, say, Dilbert. Sometimes the sequences are like little short stories, and at others they could have been panels from a comic strip. If you want to see an anime that leaves aside any attempt at realism and makes use of the brevity that the art form allows, then this is worth a look.