Majo no takkyûbin (1989)
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Miyazaki continues to surprise with this coming-of-age tale of a young witch who leaves her home for her training according to the tradition and after taking refuge in a beautiful city she starts her own delivery service. As is with other Miyazaki films, this anime too isn't artificial in its emotions even when Kiki is eq
uipped with the same old movie clichés. Kiki is an interesting character: she is optimistic, energetic and smart but at the same time she covets, she is proud making her sound a little foolish at times. Miyazaki's portrayal of young girls has always been perfect in every sense (e.g. his other films like Totoro, Spirited Away). Thus our Kiki is the hero and the villain both at the same time. She is that kind of person whose true goal is not to face life but is to face herself and her pride. Honestly, we all have gone through this phase, haven't we? Thus the portrayal of the lead character itself is so strong the film engages the audience like a thriller film does. Secondly, the people around Kiki were captured equally powerfully. She befriends a boy of her age, Tombo (he kind of looks like Waldo from Where's Waldo), then a pregnant woman and her husband who runs a bakery.
If you watch Kiki then one will realize that Miyazaki has used a variety of characters in Kiki who actually are the real juice of the movie. The early 20th century city itself has a character of its own and adds to the sweetness of the film without making it “too” sweet. The animation itself is another surprising element. Miyazaki has taken care of all the intricate details so powerfully that it’s impossible for us not to notice them and the hidden meaning behind it. Over the years critics and fans have debated the age in which the story actually takes place. Miyazaki deduced later in an interview that the story takes place in a different universe where both the World Wars never took place!
Another surprising masterpiece from Miyazaki with lovely imagery, interesting characters, an engaging story and most important of all: a thought-provoking conclusion that we never probably get to see in any other animated films. Highly recommended for animation fans and non-fans alike.
Kiki's Delivery Service is set in a world where there are witches. Not mean, warty, cackling witches though. These are witches who find a certain skill they excel at like making potions or fortune telling and then become the resident witch of some town or village. When a young witch reaches the age of 13, she's meant to leave home for a year of training and establish herself. Kiki has reached this stage and she leaves home with her black cat Jiji to find a town they like and settle there. She finds the port city Koriko which she falls in love with. Despite the beautiful location, it won't be a walk in the park for Kiki as you can imagine.
Kiki's Delivery Service is about self-confidence. Can you imagine being a 13 year-old and having to go to a strange new place and make something of yourself? Even more distressing is that the townspeople of Koriko have modernized and moved on from archaic things like witches. Kiki goes through some moments of self-doubt which are all within reason given her age as well as the unimpressed townspeople.
Kiki is a wonderful character who's enthusiastic but like I said is flawed in her self-assurance. Not only does she have to deal with witch problems, but regular teenage girl problems as well! She gets the attention of a boy by the name of Tombo who's obsessed with aviation. It's a good thing she has the help of several characters who grow to deeply care about her.
The animation is absolutely stunning. There are some beautiful shots of Kiki and Tombo speeding down a curvy road on a bike as well as some scenes where Kiki is flying on her broom. Everything looks so seamless and I think it's the kind of animated movie you could call ageless in terms of its visual qualities. It's also backed up by a beautiful score from Studio Ghibli regular Joe Hisaishi.
Kiki's Delivery Service is the kind of movie that gets you invested into the characters. Their happiness is yours and their sadness is yours. Overall the humour is well controlled and sad bits don't devolve into melodrama. I just can't believe that Hayao Miyazaki can create such loveable people again and again. He's written a moving story and with such beautiful animation. I really don't think it's possible to dislike Kiki's Delivery Service. I could just watch it over and over again...
Just a note, I saw the movie with the original Japanese audio and English subtitles.I can't speak for the quality of the English dub but I've read that the third version which was released in 2010 is much improved over the previous two versions.
Sweet and magical movie. My second favourite from Miyazaki
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In 4 official lists
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This movie ranks #31 in Paste's The 100 Best Anime Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #43 in BFI's 100 Animated Feature Films
This movie ranks #46 in OFCS's Top 100 Animated Features of All Time
This movie ranks #61 in Pixar Directors Recommend: Films for Kids Under 13