Just from reading the title alone, you probably have heard a lot of great things about this movie. And that is, only if you happen to have not watched the movie yet. But I mean … really? you haven’t?! But don’t worry, I’m glad that you made it here to #moe404, again with me reviewing yet another movie from Ghibli and its founding father, Hayao Miyazaki.
These two households are known for being amazing at producing anime movies, having a fan base that’s very enthusiast about their productions, and just being the all-around awe-inspiring as a man and a company in the anime community. For quite some time now, I’ve been wanting to write this review, and now it’s finally the time for me to talk about a story filled with adventures of a shoujo, and oh, it’s a beautiful movie from whenever you see it.
The movie is called Kiki’s Delivery Service. For you who haven’t watched the movie, I shall now tell you what to expect from watching it. And as for you who have watched the movie, well, I guess you’re still interested in my experience watching the movie, aren’t you? Of course, it’s a phenomenal movie. So let’s talk about it, starting with the trailer here..,..
synopsis – the witch’s express delivery.
It is an old custom, that to become a witch, one has to leave their house as soon as they’re at the age of 13. As to be expected, to train her magic and serve a community that is in need of her service, the 13-year-old Kiki decides to leave her house on the night of full moon with only her familiar spirit, a talking black cat named Jiji. Using her mother’s broomstick, Kiki flies off for the adventure of a lifetime, making her way to the unknown city that she will call home.
Kiki lands in a port city of Koriko, a far off large town by the sea where witches haven’t been seen for years. As she struggles to adapt, she ends up wandering the streets with no place to stay. That is until she is spotted by a kindly and heavily pregnant owner of a bakery store named Osono; she offers Kiki boarding in exchange to work part-time in the store. Before long, Kiki opens a service of which she calls it the Witch Delivery Business where she’d deliver goods by flying to any part of the town.
With the exciting energy for her adventure of a lifetime, Kiki wasn’t prepared for all the misadventures she shall encounter. This is a gentle coming of age movie that will not only teach you about bliss and independence, but also vulnerability and isolation.
Watching this movie has made me realize that in this anime industry, there’s no competition for the combo of Ghibli studio and its father, Miyazaki-sensei. It’s almost like Disney in the American animation industry, or maybe for most of you I believe, these two names are bigger than Disney. In fact, if I try to recall about the people of Disney, what I could only think are only weird things that they’ve accused of such as child molester and some kind of arrest concerning paedophiles. But please don’t quote me on that, cause’ I only watch their movies and not really following their stories.
This is the third movie from Miyazaki that made it to the US, and thanks to the Disney-Ghibli partnership, Walt Disney is the cartoon studio of which hold the rights to most of the movies from Ghibli, including this one. However, despite all that, we won’t talk about the Western Licensor that much.
So um, let us just get back to the movie itself.
The complete storyboard of Kiki’s Delivery Service is based on a 1985 children’s light novel titled 魔女の宅急便 (Witch’s Delivery Service), and both world and character building start off since the beginning of the story. Not yet five minutes in the movie, it already set forth Kiki’s decision to leave the house, specify her character; being loved by her witch mother, being encouraged by her supportive father, and having a fun relationship with Jiji, her familiar spirit.
From there, the story deals with Kiki who’s struggling with her transition into adulthood, together with the unknown world that she has never experienced it before. The movie captures the genuine feeling of growing up, told by her struggles of seeking acceptance from others, and develop a balance between the said ‘job’ and her own life. Only at the end of the movie, the story resolves to an end by Kiki accepting that being a witch was not only a job for her, being a witch means everything for her.
The whole movie was a quest of Kiki looking for her identity, a small dot in this gigantic world. An idea, a painting, an adventure of herself of which no one could come up with the idea, which one couldn’t paint of her, and one wouldn’t do but her. The story does really good in delivering the conclusion, that for Kiki to be whom she wanted to be, it wouldn’t be thanks to a magic spell or her precious broomstick, and instead, it’d be thanks to her strong will and decision that come from the inside.
The movie has given me hope especially after I dived into the world of Kiki; that to be someone who you always want to be, you don’t need to change yourself or become someone else, even if the whole world seems to be a huge block and obstacles for you to stay true to yourself. Which then, it brings me to probably one most noticeable plot hole throughout the movie.
In any given story about a process of acquiring insight into one’s own character, there’re always a nature, a group, or an individual who will try to discourage the protagonist to do exactly that. And in this movie, the biggest despicable individual that causes depress into the process of Kiki becoming a great witch is a boy named Tombo.
The only problem for me is that Tombo is actually the opposite of despicable; he has a very, very kind personality, and I know since the first time he’s introduced in the story that he shows up with a good intention. And yet, the movie interprets that every time Kiki has anything to do with Tombo, the chance of Kiki becoming a great witch decreases.
Now, I understand why and how this scenario could work, which we will discuss in the character section, and there are definitely series of emotions happened behind Kiki’s body language and dialogues, her interactions with others of which explain how come having to do with Tombo always pulling Kiki out of her own world. But even though this is kind of nitpicking, I must say that I was hoping the movie to explain this particular character dilemma in a better way, or to present another obstacle for Kiki’s self-discovery rather than being having to do with Tombo.
Okay, let’s talk about this one plot hole regarding Tombo being one who holds Kiki back from discovering her true form of self. It’s really common for an anime with a story like this to construct characters who stand in the opposite of the protagonist’s goals, which oftentimes represented by adults, grown-ups, and parents. But in this movie, everyone seems to be supporting Kiki and happy to accept whatever that Kiki decides to do with her life. Therefore, you may now wonder what holds Kiki back and even made her magic weaken out.
Now, despite the fact that this exists as a problem in the writing and storytelling department, its resolution is actually a blessing in the character department. As once you invested more on what is going on through Kiki’s character, everything should make sense.
Kiki is not like any other common anime girls —you see a heroine approached by a young man with a sweetheart, and yet our main girl turned to be not friendly as she used to be, I bet you’d think that the girl is a tsundere. But not with Kiki tho. In a matter of fact, her character has the opposite characteristic of a tsundere; Kiki is a character with strong points of views, which makes her as a completely honest character. If she like something, you’ll know that she’s having fun; and if she doesn’t like something, you can really tell that she hate having to do with it.
The truth is, Kiki is a character with a lot of insecurities. And this movie spent 90% of her time in the story with her insecurities hidden in the background, not even herself realize that she has this vulnerability and lack of confidence buried deep inside herself. Especially around this time, right after she left her loving parents who have been always supporting her previous life, Kiki is now confronted with a lot of life choices that she never gets asked before; one particular is how she deals with the city she chose to live in.
Since the first time she flies over the city of Koriko, she fell in love with the huge and beautiful, busy city by the sea, but in the same day, she also learns that Koriko doesn’t need a witch to be its service. Especially after Kiki bumped into an already well-established witch in her way to Koriko, she realized that she doesn’t have any speciality as a witch but flying. So how come she serves this gigantic city while she has nothing to offer?
From there, her anxiety builds upon itself and becoming larger and larger. Turned out her flying doesn’t do so good for the street of Koriko, and even cop pulls her over for being a witch and causing disturbance to the city traffic. She smiles and introduces herself to the citizen of Koriko, and yet they don’t seem to recognize Kiki’s full worth as a witch. And unfortunately, only after all this snowball effect, our boy Tombo introduces himself to Kiki, which somehow gives her a bad impression because Tombo is also a part of Koriko.
Throughout her stays in this port city, she only willingly opens herself to the appreciative lady Osono and her husband, as well as to an artist in her late teens named Ursula, whom later in the story will become the mentor figure of Kiki. Even though we’ve seen her be friends with the children of her age, in this new town, she feels like she’s so different to the point where her witch way of dressing looks so creepy compared with the normal townsfolk here do their dresses.
A lot of things happened in the story that would drive Kiki to reconsider her life-balance between being a normal girl and being a witch. In one mindset, she should accept that she’s different from anybody else; and in another, her surroundings would never be in her favour when she’s different.
Venturing out with her story, this movie introduces me to a number of lovable support characters, and I just love seeing them interact with Kiki, creating a branch of emotions with her, and being a part in her quest of identity. Sadly, I couldn’t really enjoy their dance especially between Kiki and Tombo, because they have a kind of complicated relationship. I think their drama will work at best in a six or 12 episodes of TV series, because I believe there’s so much more potential left for the story to be explored.
Mind you that the day when Kiki and Tombo finally could have fun and laugh together, is actually the same day when Kiki lost her magic to fly. So yeah, I wish the movie has a longer runtime for the story to be told even more. But well, I’m happy enough to find it not rushed at all.
Magic is like art. While before you could fly without giving it a thought, now you can’t even begin to remember how you ever managed to do it. All you can do when it gets like that is to struggle. Try and try again, and if you really can’t fly … you just stop flying.
visual and arts.
Oookay, this is also one of the best things happened to Kiki’s Delivery Service.
I just watched two movies of Patlabor, and in case you didn’t know, this movie and the first movie of Patlabor were released in the same year. And with that data, it’s safe to say that the production value of Kiki’s Delivery Service was far above the production value of Patlabor. Don’t get me wrong, Patlabor is a very good franchise, but I brought this up to paint you the distinction between a Ghibli movie with others. It has always been a wide gap, and I wish all the anime movies could pick up with- or at least learnt to improve from- all the pieces released by Ghibli and Miyazaki-sensei.
The movie was first released in 1989, that means almost a decade before I was born, and now I’m 20 yet I prefer to spend my night time watching this movie rather than most movies released in the present. The visual and animation are so amazing, and don’t forget about the music and soundtrack; it was spot on since the first movie credit rolling in at the beginning of the movie.
As an anime enthusiast, watching this movie was just a pure bliss to me, and moreover considering that I’m a lover of old-school aesthetic. The song in the opening credits is actually an iconic and popular doo-wop-style song from 1975, titled “Ruuju no Dengon” ルージュの伝言 (English: Message in Rouge) by Yumi Matsutouya; with the closing song titled ” Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta nara” やさしさに包まれたなら (English: If It Could Be Wrapped in Kindness) also sung by her. And let’s not set aside the iconic main theme of the movie, a beautiful song titled “Turning Seasons” of which sung by Azumi Inoue.
The dubbed version tho, the movie has different songs for its opening and ending credits. And besides that, there is a lot of elements that Walt Disney has made different from the original too, such as the personality of Kiki’s spirit animal, the talking cat named Jiji. I’m still uncomfortable with US Licensors such as Disney that tend to add more lines to dialogues, to the point where it changes the characters’ trait.
Just FYI, the dubbed Jiji has a deep voice, more talkative, and is far from cute than the original. But that being said, there are still many people who have to find the dubbed version of this movie better than the original. I believe Disney has made a spark and quite history in this particular matter. Still tho, no studio is perfect and maybe because of the fans’ criticization, some of the lines were subsequently removed in Disney’s updated 2010 dub.
closing – nesha’s final verdict.
I kind of realize that the enthusiasm for the anime industry has been kind of unprecedented at this point, that nothing still can’t represent the entertainment business rather than the awesome pieces produced by Ghibli and Miyazaki-sensei. It’s unique that even though there are undoubtedly the better studios, artists, and directors in this current generation, there’s none of them who can stage itself as an eye-opening for people like me, an outsider who was once thought this Japanese culture was some kind of religious mandate or something.
Watching a movie like this is kind of a must for one to feel like a fan of anime fandom. This movie is an essential even in between all the movies by Miyazaki-sensei and Ghibli studio, you just have to watch this.
For you who haven’t watched the show, and want a little taste of how the movie painted as … just imagine an alternate 1960s of Europe, in an untouched area of ravages of a war of which neither World War took place. As for the appearance of Koriko, which is the town where the story mostly being told, you may imagine the medieval Swedish town of Visby, with its surroundings altered from the old cities across Europe. It’s pretty cool, right? Yeah, just watch the movie; it’s just a beautiful, wonderful, and awesome piece to watch.
additional pieces of information.
- Majo no Takkyuubin
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Witch’s Express Delivery
- nesha’s review of an anime movie
- first time premiered in the summer, 29.07.1989
- from the studio of Ghibli and Hibari
- tagged under the genre of #adventure, #comedy, #drama, #magic, #romance, and #fantasy
tagged also under the subgenre of #growing_up, #witches, #coming_of_age, #daily_life, #mina, and #novel
- the age-rated as G – All Ages
Okay so, I was thinking, was guessing and hoping that some of you may have caught yesterday’s article. I just wanted to apologize (again) since I keep feeling like I was using this blog, as a platform too carelessly for my own medicine. I did plan to not put up the post because I thought it turned out to be not so relevant than how I was expecting it to be, but then someone encourages me to just put it up if I’m comfortable with it. And so I did.
But yeah, I’m not so proud with how it turned out to be; it’s just ludicrously not a good read up and just desperately unbalanced. But you know, I’m always glad if you find it interesting to read … I see you and I appreciate you a lot.
Also, just so you know, my goal to review each and every movie from Ghibli is still a thing, but let’s just sit back and relax, because I don’t want to be rushed and you know, I want to enjoy my ride too. It’s going to take time considering they have given us dozens of gorgeous theatrical releases to be explored. So if you want to set forth the journey together with me, just make sure to follow #moe404!
Aight, thank you for reading, following, and just being here. Keep watching anime, and I’ll see you again next time! Bai-bai now~
© written by nesha5971