Kiki’s Delivery Service / Majo no Takkyuubin
Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Witches, Studio Ghibli
First Released: July 1989, 105-minute film
Summary: Kiki is a 13-year-old girl who must follow tradition to become a full-fledged witch. The film opens as Kiki is about to leave her parents for a year on a journey to adulthood. Kiki flies off with her best friend, a black cat named Jiji, to find a city without a witch. After an adventure of its own trying to find a city, Kiki sets up a delivery service with the help of a bread shop owner and begins a wonderful experience of self-growth.
Kiki’s Delivery Service was written, produced and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The story is an adaptation of the novel of the same name. It was the highest grossing film in Japan in 1989.
I always enjoy the music in Studio Ghibli films and Kiki is no exception. While the music is not as noticeable as some other films, the soundtrack that is heard is great. I especially enjoy the opening of the film when Kiki is leaving home, turns on the radio, and the most fitting song plays as Kiki flies through the night sky.
One of my favorite aspects of the film is Kiki’s character. She’s a teenager and acts the part of being carefree and trusting. Kiki is a classic Miyazaki character in how she is a strong female protagonist that transitions from adolescence to adulthood over the course of the film. Kiki gains her independence without being rebellious, which is an admirable quality. Something else I noticed about Kiki is how she combines traditional and contemporary culture. For example, she dresses in the traditional plain purple attire, but she adds a contemporary bow to her outfit to make it flashy. Overall I just like Kiki’s character because she always tries to be positive and happy, despite what is going on around her.
The voice talent used in the English translation of Kiki includes Kirsten Dunst and Phil Hartman, among others. An interesting fact I found regarding the English translation is that Jiji’s lines and character are changed in the Disney translation, with more lines being added. Jiji is more cynical and sarcastic in the translation, where he is cautious and conscientious in the original Japanese version. However, the 2010 release of the film changes some of Jiji’s lines and character to be closer to the original Japanese.
I like how Kiki’s Delivery Service feels like a Slice of Life anime if you take Kiki out of the equation. It is interesting how the world is completely normal besides the witch living in the city, which no one seems to mind. It’s not one of those shows where everybody is scared of the supernatural character they are not familiar with. People meet Kiki, find out she is a witch and continue on their way.
You might enjoy this if: You are ready to find out (or be reminded of) what makes Studio Ghibli so great. There’s laughter, sadness, and heart-felt moments all in one film.
You might not like it if: Coming-of-age stories are not your thing.
Note to the Viewer: Pay attention to when Kiki arrives in the city for the first time. She flies out of control through the city, almost hitting a bus under a bridge. If you look closely you can see “Studio Ghibli” written on the bus.
Kiki’s Delivery Service Official Trailer