Kiki, a 13-year-old witch-in-training, must spend a year living on her own in a distant town in order to become a full-fledged witch. Leaving her family and friends, Kiki undertakes this tradition when she flies out into the open world atop her broomstick with her black cat Jiji.
As she settles down in the coastal town of Koriko, Kiki struggles to adapt and ends up wandering the streets with no place to stay—until she encounters Osono, who offers Kiki boarding in exchange for making deliveries for her small bakery. Before long, Kiki decides to open her own courier service by broomstick, beginning her journey to independence. In attempting to find her place among the townsfolk, Kiki brings with her exciting new experiences and comes to understand the true meaning of responsibility.
Kiki's Delivery Service resonates with me more than any other movie I've seen. Filled with inspiration, warmth and tenderness, it's perhaps the best example of a coming-of-age story I've seen in anime to date. While most Ghibli fans prefer the likes of Spirited Away or Mononoke Hime, and while I love and adore those films passionately, I personally feel that Kiki's Delivery Service is their best work, and Miyazaki's best directed film.
Everything about this movie just brings me a smile and always brings me up when I feel down. What makes this movie great is that it doesn't have huge ambition; it's not here to
tell you about the consequences of relying too much on technology, or destroying the natural earth, confronting the spirits of the forest. Of life. But it's simply the story of a young girl coming to terms with growing up and living in an entirely new town with total strangers. Transitioning from the comfort of her quiet country side hometown, to the hustle and bustle of an urban area.
Being independent for the first time is a terrifying experience for anyone, but it's also enlightening, as you can learn more about yourself and others than you thought. Kiki's Delivery Service showcases those ups and downs brilliantly. From an awkward introduction to baffled strangers on the streets, to starting her own business and befriending her clients, to meeting the owner of a Bakery who immediately shows a keen interest in the young girl, taking the role of a sort of mother figure to her. You meet all sorts of characters in this movie, all of them with an interesting or realistic characteristic. From a gruff looking, but gentle husband of the Bakery owner, to a boy who is extremely passionate about flight and aircrafts(even attempting to lodge a propeller onto his bike to try to get some air) who develops an immediate infatuation with Kiki, to a painter who takes comfort living in the middle of the woods, befriending the hordes of crows that live in it.
And then there is Kiki herself; at first glance she is cheerful, if a little naive. Honest, yet surprisingly old fashioned("It's not polite to ask a persons name without introducing yourself first!"). The thing I love about her character is that she's so many things, so many qualities that show how much of a varied, complex, but very realistic character she really is. She isn't a spoiled brat, she isn't selfish, she isn't annoying. She's simply a little girl with her own quirks and principles.
The film showcases the joys and pains of growing up finding your place in the world. At one point, she wearily laments the fact that she doesn't have pretty dresses, and she cannot afford that sparkling pair of red shoes that she gazes at through the window of a clothes shop. She sees her friend Tombo chatting and laughing with girls, sparking an immediate sense of jealousy from Kiki due to her insecurities.
She wants nice things, she wants to wear a nice dress, she wants to talk to boys and make friends. But cannot afford it, nor does she have the time. She simply desires a lot of what girls probably want at that age or slightly older. It's what makes her human and convincing as a character.
Even if you're not the same age group, or even gender, I feel that a lot of us have lived through moments where we feel so unsure of ourselves, feeling a sense of loneliness and isolation in the process.
And even though she goes through times of insecurity, depression and feeling like she's in a rut. She also befriends and meets many people that find her remarkably charming, sweet and sincere. She experiences friendships, success in her business and feeling accomplished.
The music, composed by the master himself, Joe Hisaishi. Is nothing short of perfect, the soundtrack has a very distinct European sound to it, also induces a large sense of nostalgia. From the early 60s pop sound of the opening, to the tender folk ballad of the ending. The soundtrack compliments nearly every scene in the movie to considerable effect. As expected!
The animation and designs are also incredibly top notch. It's crisp, it's clear(I just recently purchased the bluray version), it brilliantly showcases the varied areas and backgrounds. Everything is just straight up gorgeous. The town itself, Koriko, an ideal version of a pre-WWII Northern European city is one of my favorite designed places in fiction. To the hectic main-roads, the quiet alleyways and side areas you could casually stroll through, to the gorgeous beaches and scenery. It's very romantic and exhilarating. I would personally love to live in a city like this.
Despite what it does right, does it do anything wrong? Well, I wouldn't have minded if the movie went a bit more into the witch culture. In the story, when 12-13, a witch must leave her town and spend a year elsewhere, growing and learning, broadening their horizons essentially. But it's not really explained too much, but this is simply a nitpick as the film is more about Kiki and her experiences than all that.
There's a certain warmth to this film that makes it feel like you're revisiting an old friend. I find it difficult to find any major faults in this movie. I've grown up watching it on tv dozens of times, and later in life revisiting it, only to truly then realize how special this film is to me. I never said that I would be objective or impartial in this review, that would be pointless and a disservice to the film. Kiki's Delivery Service makes you passionate, or just really happy and relaxed, whichever works for you.
It's anime like this that proves to me yet again that animation can be a wonderful expression of art. If you've never seen this film, do yourself a favor and do so soon. Set up some free time during a quiet weekend afternoon and let yourself be enveloped in tenderness.
Any constructive feedback is appreciated on this review!
For my second Hayao Miyazaki movie, I’d say it was pretty good.
I liked the plot of Spirited Away much, much better though. Spirited Away had a more complex and interesting plot, while Kiki’s story was simpler. I guess the advantage of that is it’s easy to understand. As much as I like stories about witches living amongst normal humans, Kiki didn’t really act or live like a witch. She was more of a human who can fly and happens to own a cat that talks.
Since I brought up the subject of the talking cat, I’m glad I picked the English dub over the original
Japanese dub. I fell in love with the cast when I saw their interviews, so I decided to go with the Disney dub.Sure it became more Disney-ish, but it was actually pretty good. I like how they made Jiji talk more – I realized that in the Japanese dub Jiji wasn’t as talkative. Also, Phil Hartman made Jiji way funnier.
As expected of Hayao Miyazaki, the animation was fantastic – even if it was a 1989 movie. Since it’s from 1989, I’m assuming everything is hand drawn. The backgrounds were very detail, but it wasn’t overwhelming. It’s kind of looking at a fine, intricate watercolor painting that moves.
I did notice a lot of fan service throughout the movie. I know that seems weird, but there were numerous panty flashes from Kiki herself. I was beginning to think if that was intentional.
Disney edited the music, for sure. There were poppy, contemporary songs (both by Sydney Forest) during the beginning and the ending scenes of the movie. I can’t say I like the songs that much, but they were pretty catchy. I also noticed that a lot of the original BGM was omitted – I don’t know why that is. For the BGM I heard, I thought those tracks were very nice. They were easy to listen to and made the scenes especially peaceful and serene.
I’m probably gonna watch it again. It’s the kind of thing that you can watch any time and you’ll never get tired of it.
The first time I heard of this movie was when one of my friends mentioned it as one of the movies on his "to watch" list. I remember looking over the synopses and cover of the movie and wondering what the heck had gotten into him. It's a cartoon, for heaven's sake, how good could it be?
Just a few weeks ago I came down with a cold. It was no ordinary spring cold, but the great granddaddy of all spring colds. I was stuck in bed for around 3 days, during which time I re-acquainted myself with my inner child.
In other words, I watched Kiki's Delivery Service. Then something happened. While I had begun the movie with very low expectations, and a "childish" mentality, I found myself wholly captured by the movie.
Story: The plot is simple. Super simple. So simple, in fact, that an overtired anime newbie with a head cold can understand it. It begins when Kiki, a 13 year old witch makes the traditional journey away from home to begin her training in a new city for one year. Within the city, Kiki finds an occupation, along with many new friends who help her find place in the world. It is a cheerful and optimistic plot which is both uncommon and appreciated.
Animation: Like the storyline, the animation is simple. Since it was made in 1989, I wasn't expecting anything fantastic, but I was pleased to find that both the simplicity and the colors matched the tone of the story and the characters.
Sound: I think this is what really hooked me. The music isn't absolutely fantastic, but it fits right into the scenes where you'd want it to be. It is comfortable, and fun. The voices were also impressed me (I watched the English dub). Perhaps that is because I started the movie with such low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the voices matched up with their characters quite nicely.
Characters: Ah, here is where the fun part begins. Kiki is truly the heroine in the story, and while she isn't saccharin sweet, she has a definitive moral standard. She has the added complexity of being a tween, and having to deal with new feelings of insecurity and affection. Her cautious and decidedly unadventurous cat, Jiji, is perhaps my favorite character, and his snide remarks had me laughing out loud every time. The rest of the characters are distinctive, and memorable (though maybe that is because this was my first anime movie. . .).
Overall: I thought it was a sweet, cheerful, "breath of fresh air" movie that I will probably watch more than once. It isn't on my list of top favorite movies (not that I have one...), but then again, it doesn't need to be. It is entertaining and sweet, and just the right thing to watch when you're feeling down - or when you've caught the great granddaddy of spring colds.
Having seen a great number of anime movies, many people are surprised when I tell them that out of them all, Majo no Takkyuubin (or 'Kiki's Delivery Service', as it is also commonly known by) is my favorite. There are multiple reasons why, but I won't let this become a monologue of favoritism being preached at you. Instead, I'm going to give it an objective, in-depth, review. But, keep in mind that, as this movie is actually rather simple and uncomplicated, "in-depth" (for this particular movie) is not very complicated at all.
First, a tiny bit of background...
Majo no Takkyuubin is loosely based off of
a children's novel written by Eiko Kadono and was ultimately directed by the world-famous Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki had previously put Sunao Katabuchi (now well known as the screenwriter for 'Black Lagoon' - a great anime that couldn't be more different in vibe from this lighthearted movie) in charge as director, but he eventually backed out. As such, Miyazaki took up the reins.
And now on to the review (number ratings for the individual segments, such as "Sound" and "Enjoyment", will be given at the end)...
It's an extremely simple story, and therein lies a major part of the film's strength. I won't reiterate anything that was in the synopsis that has already been so kindly provided. All you need to know aside from that - to go along with it - is that it takes place in an alternate, war-free Europe (in which witches exist) during what appears to be the 1940/50s.
The movie is well-paced, neither slow nor fast. It goes at a nice medium pace and gives you plenty of room to relax, soak up the world presented, and to enjoy the adventure Kiki goes on.
There are a few "coincidences" that happen in the story. They're necessary for the story to move forward since its only an hour and forty five minutes long. The nice thing is that they don't come across as sudden or completely unexpected, but rather as natural. Other than that, I can find no real flaws to nit-pick at concerning plot progression.
For a movie made almost right before the beginning of the 90's, the level of quality is very high. But, as this movie was made by Studio Ghibli (famous in part, for extremely high production values) that isn't entirely surprising. Since Kiki is a witch and is in flight for a good portion of the movie, there is a lot of birds-eye view scenery. This is the part of the animation that stuck out the most to me (others may feel differently). Studio Ghibli never skimped on delivering absolutely gorgeous backgrounds that were original every time she took flight. No recycled animation here.
The in-town scenes were well-done too. People on the sidewalks, great, realistic looking buildings, lighting, etc. The scenes with lots of motion show no drops in quality either. Inspiration for the locations of the film (especially the buildings) came from Stockholm, the Swedish island of Gotland and Adelaide, South Australia. I've only ever seen Takkyubin in DVD quality, but can imagine how fantastic it must look in blue-ray. I'm going to need to look into obtaining an all-region Japanese blue-ray sometime soon.
The characters, of course, have the typical Ghibli art style. Not that this is a bad thing at all, as I personally am a fan of their style. If you've seen any other Ghibli film, then you know what to expect. If not, then just know that odds are you'll like it - it's very clean, high quality, and pleasing to the eye.
The greatest thing about the score in this movie is that, rather than the music influencing the scene, it almost seems to let the scene influence the music. Every track is fitting for the time in the film in which it plays and compliments, but does not overwhelm, the current happenings. This is a blessing if you're (like me) one who tacks importance on the music in a movie. And who could forget the songs that play once Kiki leaves home and at the end of the movie - both fitting, sweet, and very enjoyable.
The voice acting in the original Japanese is well done. Each voice fits each character very well, and all the voice actors did a great job at emoting. The English dub (namely the 1998 dub by Disney) is still good, but lacks some of the warmth and humor of the Japanese. Though, I have to give the best performance of that English version to Phil Hartman as Jiji (Kiki's talking black cat). Beware though, if you watch it in Japanese and then in the 1998 English version, you may or may not like Hartman's take on Jiji, as it's very different from the original.
There was a new English dub created for the 2010 American re-release, but I can't comment on it as I have not seen that version. From my experience, I suggest Japanese with English Subs for your first viewing of Takkyuubin - not because I'm some Japanese dub purist, but because it seems to be the most natural and unforced listening experience amongst the two I've seen. But, who knows, the 2010 English dub might be really good...
Part of the experience of this movie is meeting the supporting characters and being introduced to their various personalities and quirks, so I won't talk in detail about anyone other than our main two: Kiki and Jiji - just know that all the supporting characters are great.
First we have Kiki, our main character. Kiki is a fun-loving, polite, responsible, though still immature (in a cute way) thirteen year old girl/witch. She tries hard and is lots of fun to watch. She goes through a decent amount of character development over the course of the movie as she works hard and meets new people.
And we also have Jiji, the wisecracking, timid, talking black cat that is the pet of Kiki. He comes with her on her journey and has a little character development of his own.
As you can tell, I enjoyed Takkyuubin immensely. It's a movie that the entire family can watch: it's cute, charming, funny, adventurous and full of this feeling that can only be described as "wholesome". It's a lot like that feeling you get by living in a great, loving, small town where almost everyone knows everyone and there's barely any tension (if you've ever lived in a small town like that). It's hard to describe.
Overall, it's a fantastic achievement in film, though there's no guarantee that you'll like it, because tastes differ. But if you're the kind of person that likes calm shows and movies, slice-of-life, adventure, cute stories or any combination of those four, chances are that this is something you'll really enjoy and be able to immerse yourself in. Or, if your looking for something as a pleasant, fun-filled, breather from more intense anime movies or series, 'Majo no Takkyuubin' will do you fine.
Tons of good anime movies have been made over the years. But why settle for good? We present to you a list of not 5, not 10, but 20 of some of the best anime movies in existence! Dig in and find some new and interesting Japanese animated movies to watch this year!