Despite being made a little earlier, this film inevitably invites comparison with Parasite. The two films are very thematically similar, but Parasite's emphasis is more symbolic, visual, and on the duality between two families. Shoplifters focuses instead primarily on the turbulent and ambigious inner lives of people left adrift by society.
What seemed to me at first to be a whimsical and strange film seems now more serious and compelling. I grow older and appreciate the idea of professional dedication and personal sacrifice more and more; this film speaks to the anxieties of adulthood more than many other of Miyazaki's movies. The dream sequences of this film are particularly impressive. The film would, however, benefit from a more fleshed-out female foil in Naoko, who is often left to be a wilting flower throughout.