My Neighbors the Yamadas Comic Published in France

This is certainly a great birthday present, although I do wish I could read it in English. But if you're of the French persuasion, you will be more than happy to see a volume of Hisaishi Ishii's comic strip.

Of course, we all know about My Neighbors the Yamadas from Isao Takahata's 1999 Studio Ghibli feature, and it's a movie that I love and adore. But will that loyalty translate to the original comics? On the Japanese DVD, Ghibli included the comics that were used in the movie, and it's an interesting to read the original material, and imagine Takahata and his staff honing their timing for the jokes. But I wasn't really all that impressed with Ishii's original work.

I have to say I was much more impressed with the way Takahata assembled his material, grouping comics together in running themes of family and life. My favorite scenes turned out to be the originals, such as the elaborate wedding sequence at the beginning, the full color Kamen Rider-meets-Ikiru sequence near the end, and the uproarious song-and-dance number at the finale. In other words, Takahata's skills at adapting original works was the star of the show.

Yamadas is really a very sparse comic, very crudely drawn, very basic and small. I'm reminded of Bill Watterson's laments in the pages of Calvin and Hobbes, as the newspaper comic whittled away into smaller and smaller sizes. Yamadas would be at home in an American paper, then. But I'd still rather watch the movie.

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