Kiki’s Delivery Service [Theatrical Edition] [90/100]

Director:  Hayao Miyazaki ( Director on Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Wind Rises, Porco Rosso, Mei and the Kitchen Bus, My Neighbor Totoro, On Your Mark music video, Spirited Away / Original Concept Design on Tales from Earthsea / Character Designer, Screenplay, Original Story, Theme Song Lyrics and Director on Castle in the Sky / Logo Designer on Japan Animator Expo 2015)

Script: 

  • Hayao Miyazaki
  • Nobuyuki Isshiki ( Script Writer on Fushigi na Koala Blinky / Script Writer on Uchusen Sagittarius)

Original Creator: Eiko Kadono ( Original Creator on Three Little Ghosts TV series)

Music: Joe Hisaishi ( Music Composer on ArionCastle in the SkyHowl’s Moving CastleSpirited AwayMy Neighbor TotoroPorco RossoNausicaa Valley of the WindThe Wind RisesRobot Carnival OVA / Insert Song Performance on Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso episode 1)

Characer Designer: Katsuya Kondo ( Character Designer on Aurora / Key Animator on Maison Ikkoku episode 39 / Character Designer and Animation Director on Ocean Waves / Key Animator on The Secret World of Arrietty / Key Animator on When Marnie was There / Character Design on Sanzoku no Musume Ronja TV series)


 

Based on Eiko Kadono’s 1985 novel and originally produced in 1988 this was the first film from Studio Ghibli released under the partnership with The Walt Disney Company. Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most critically acclaimed directors ever to grace the anime industry.  His friend and other co-founder of Studio Ghibli Isao Takahata created the amazing Tales of Princess Kaguya about a girl born from a bamboo thicket and her journey in becoming a desirable young woman giving her suitors tasks that are next to impossible.  While Takahata is very good at writing stories that have a strong sense of realism, Hayao Miyazaki creates coherent stories filled with memorable characters, matched with beautiful artistic skill with every frame hand-drawn, an emotionally driven music score by Joe Hisaishi and wondrous magical concepts.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is about a small witch that runs a delivery service.  You would think this would make for a decent animated short but Miyazaki charms his audience by giving us one of the most beloved characters in a Ghibli film and one of the few female characters in his collection of works that ensures we see all sides of her emotionally.

I’ve seen this film many times on Blu-ray but I got a chance to see this last night at my local Alamo Drafthouse with the Japanese dub and English subtitles.  This whole month they’ve been showing Miyazaki films and it’s a great treat for the old and newer generations to enjoy Japanese animation on a wide-scale media format.

As a witch in training, Kiki, discovers a new town far away from her family life filled with friendships and love.  The storytelling is fantastic!  Containing life-like dialogue between Osono’s motherly protection over Kiki and Tombo’s curiosity over Kiki.  Even if some of the turns in its plot are somewhat forced for example the bike sequence and the ending this is a wonderful example of solid storytelling.  The contrast between Kiki and Osono is fantastic.  She views Kiki’s flying as something out of a fairytale and it’s under Osono that Kiki begins her work as a messenger.  The transitions between the drama and the comedy far surpass a lot of animated feature film works of today due to its riveting animated movements of Kiki flying and facial experssions.  The comedic scenes with Jiji the cat are animated with kids in mind while the adults get to see captivating moments with Osono, the woman that gives Kiki her first delivery errand and the whole sequence between Kiki and Ursula.

I believe one of the most fascinating characters in this film is in fact Ursula.  An artist in her late teens that is seen towards the beginning after Kiki loses the stuffed cat from the birds and a little halfway through the film when Kiki takes a vacation.  Ursula teaches Kiki that the things we are good at should never be rejected.  A common theme in Miyazaki‘s “all-ages” works.  Which brings me to why I think this would have done incredibly well as a full-fledged TV series.  One of the issues with this film is how little development its side-cast has especially Ursula, Tombo and Oku-sama.  Clocking in at around 2-hours this film felt short.  Miyazaki directed some pretty amazing TV anime from the 70’s well into the 80’s from Lupin III Part I to Sherlock Hound and even a few episodes of Masterpiece Theatre’s Akage no Anne ( Anne of Green Gables).  I would have loved to see this adapted into a 1-cour or even 2-cour anime!  They’ve got more than enough material to play around with for it!

Being a Miyazaki film without adult action like Princess Mononoke and Nausicca it embellishes Kiki being accepted into a human society and what she can do to make her mark in life from the perspective of a teenage girl.  How she grows from reliance to independence is why I regard this as one of my favorite anime films.

It’s also very neat to see a cameo of Hayao Miyazaki in animated form!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 90/100

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