Once more we delve back into the extended oeuvre of animation legend Hayao Miyazaki and his production company Studio Ghibli with the 1989 animated movie Kiki’s Delivery Service. Based on a book written by Eiko Kadono, Kiki’s Delivery Service is one of the lesser discussed films of Miyazaki’s career. Not because it is bad by any means, but when you have movies like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Wind Rises, and so forth… Your lesser works tend to fall by the wayside. Which even then feels like a strange statement considering that this particular movie currently holds a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes! But all things considered, still not one that immediately pops into a person’s mind when listening off this man’s storied career.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is of course the story of Kiki (Minami Takayama/Lisa Michelson/Kirsten Dunst). Kiki is a young witch who has reached the age where she must venture from her home and travel to a new city where she will be their local witch and help the city in any way that she can. Along with her talkative black cat Jiji (Rei Sakuma/Kerrigan Mahan/Phil Hartman) She travels to a new surprisingly Northern European city where she finds a kind baker named Osono (Keiko Toda/Alexandra Kenworthy/Tress MacNelle) who takes her in and helps her establish a delivery service where she flies around town delivering packaging.
All the while Kiki is trying to help her town in any way that she can, befriending a kind old woman, and going through the adolescent woes that any girl her age would go through including liking a boy named Tombo (Kappei Yamaguchi/Eddie Fierson/Matthew Lawrence) who is fascinated with aviation.
A world that is very similar to our own but one where witches are just a thing that exist, that is certainly a world that fascinates me. I love how these two different societies blend so well together using different cultures such as Japanese and northern European iconography. The fascination with planes is also interesting and something that has been a motif in Miyazaki’s work. What I also enjoy is the fact that these small towns in this world benefit greatly from witches being in their town, while the large city that Kiki chooses is so loud and modernized that she initially struggles to find her niche in the place. All of this tied together in a well crafted animated bow makes it a very interesting watch.
One of the great things about Miyazaki’s works is always the central protagonist. I absolutely love the Kiki character. She is a fun-loving and free-spirited young girl with the world thrust upon her. She has the difficult task of leaving home at the tender age of 13 to go to a city and become that cities witch, to assist with whatever the city denizens require. Definitely no easy task. Do you remember what 13 was like? You had to worry about what grades you got in middle school more than you did Kiki who has to go to leave home to never return again.
Yet with all of this, Kiki takes it all in stride. She flies into this large city, with no home or means to take care of herself and does so with a smile on her face and unbridled confidence. She is a strong-willed character and one who is always willing to help anyone in need even at the detriment of herself. Kiki is a very strong and empowering character for anyone to look up to.
A Boring Watch for Adults
I understand completely that this is a kids movie and is not made with a certain age demographic in mind, but man does this one show. After watching Kiki’s Delivery Service, I could see the work and effort put into the narrative and the animation. It was quite an impressive movie. But man did that story want to put me to sleep. Maybe it is just me and the story of a little 13-year-old witch going through adolescents, delivering, and all the while going through boy problems is just not that appealing of a watch for me. Even the near the third act when Tombo is in mortal danger was only enough to warrant me to go from a completely prone position to slightly more invested. One of the great things about Miyazaki’s movies is that for the most part, they are all timeless ageless classics. But this is one is pretty clearly a children’s movie. It is a perfect movie to show your child or anyone going through the very early stages of adolescence… But past the age of sixteen, I doubt you will get much enjoyment then a one time sit through.
I did enjoy this movie. I will admit though, I did not enjoy it as much as other of Miyazaki’s films. The animation is wonderful which goes without saying and the characters are rich and interesting to watch. But still, the fact that I could not get invested in the story as an adult still makes me say that unless you are below a certain age, you will not get that much enjoyment out of it. It is either an amazing children’s movie, a great nostalgic watch, or a one and done affair depending on what age you are when you pick it up to give it a go.
Final Score 3.5/5
Sorry for another late review. YSU has really screwed up my week. Hopefully I’ll get back on track on tomorrow. Thank you for reading and as always, if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. Please return Thursday for a new video from me and Sunday for a new review. Until then, thanks for reading.