Kiki’s Delivery Service
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by: Eiko Kadono (novel), Hayao Miyazaki (screenplay)
Starring (English Dubs): Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Matthew Lawrence, Debbie Reynolds
Review by Stephanie Cooke
Kiki’s Delivery Service is one of my all-time Studio Ghibli movies. Part of me thinks that it’s because it’s the first that I can recall watching and the one that really endeared me to Miyazaki but I think it’s because of the pure emotion that I feel every single time that I watch it.
As you may or may not know, Kiki’s Delivery Service is the story of a young 13-year old witch who, by the tradition of her family, leaves home for a year to study her craft away from home and to grow into a gifted young witch. On a beautiful full moon, Kiki leaves home and winds up in a beautiful seaside village and after meeting a kind and caring family that takes her in, starts a delivery service to pay her way. Joined by her familiar, Jiji, Kiki starts the beginning of her new life.
Despite the fact that the story is about a young witch, Miyazaki once again succeeds at telling a story that is just beyond relatable to people in general. Throughout the film, Kiki struggles to find and realize her place in the world and what it means to do something you love as a profession. She struggles with feelings of not fitting in and with lots of feelings of self-doubt and spends a prominent chunk of the film sorting through all of that and finding herself again.
Kiki is this impressionable girl who is on her own and even when things get tough, she ultimately still has such a wonderful light about her. Her relationship with Tombo is sweet and based around his adoration for her initially not as a witch or a person but someone who he sees as passionate about flying – just like him. It, of course, evolves into him thinking that she’s an absolutely fascinating person and he wants to know more about her. Miyazaki is such a master at portraying relationships where the woman isn’t simply an object to be won over nor do the women in his films become consumed with relationships. Most of the relationships that Miyazaki involve the men going after the women but in a respectful and meaningful way where they value them for who they are – not their looks or anything else that could make it seem like more of a lecherous courtship.
I get emotional whenever I watch Kiki’s Delivery Service at the simplest things: Osono taking in Kiki and caring for her, Kiki’s eternal love and gratitude to Osono, Madame baking Kiki a cake and befriending her for being sweet and helpful. All of it makes me so happy inside and I tear up every damn time. Not to mention Kiki’s daring rescue of Tombo later in the film. All of it is just beautiful.
As a small note within this release of the Blu-ray itself, there was something noticeably off with Kiki’s audio at times. There was some sort of weird reverberation happening when she spoke at certain points in the film and it took me out of the overall experience of the film. It was prominent at the beginning of the film and towards the middle and end, less so, but still. Hopefully they’ll get that fixed up and re-RE-release it.
Kiki’s Delivery Service Blu-ray Special Features:
- Feature-Length Storyboards
- Original Theatrical Trailers
- Ursula’s Painting
- Creating Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Producer’s Perspective: Collaborating with Miyazaki
- Behind the Microphone
- The Locations of Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Kiki & Jiji
- Flying with Kiki & Beyond
- 8-page Booklet with Producer’s and Director’s Statements
As mentioned previously, ALL of these Revisiting Ghibli pieces are going to end in a verdict of MUST BUY because of the fact that these are truly wonderful films and because I really believe that there’s something for everyone within each of these movies. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a delightful romp into a world much like our own but where magic still exists.