Hôhokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun (1999, JAP) C-104m. ** D: Isao Takahata. Starring (the voices of) Yukiji Asaoka, Toru Masuoka, Masako Araki, Naomi Uno, Akiko Yano. Departure from traditional animation techniques for Studio Ghibli, this stylistically interesting movie was their first 100% digital movie (though it doesn't really show). Basically a satire on Japanese suburban life, focusing on the Yamadas, whose life is portrayed through short vignettes, with mostly comic outcome. Funny, with some stylistic flourishes, to be sure, but episodic structure lessens effect. In the English version the father is spoken by James Belushi. English title: MY NEIGHBORS THE YAMADAS.

© Ron Altman