Kiki’s Delivery Service
Type: Movie
Genre: Magical Realism, action
Version: Region 1 DVD
Reviewed: 12/20/05


Kiki’s Delivery Service, along with Totoro and Porco Rosso, were the movies that Miyazaki added a fantastic element to an otherwise ordinary world, ramping up the action in each film until he realized that the whole thing was silly and knocked everyone over with Princess Mononoke. The result of Kiki, the middle film, is a world that can’t quite decide if it’s magical or not.

Kiki, who looks an awful lot like an older version of Satsuki from Totoro, celebrates her 13th birthday like most kids do. By taking her mother’s broom and flying off to a far away city for a year’s worth of witch training. And by witch I mean that Kiki is actually a completely inept magic-user who can only fly, hence the title of the film. But that doesn’t stop Kiki and her pet cat Jiji from heading off to Koriko, a city by the sea. Things are fine till Kiki gets to ground level, where she almost gets hit by a bus and a cop pulls her over for causing a pileup. Lucky for our young witch, a total dork named Tombo saves the day and then immediately tries to score a date with her, but Kiki has heard about these slick city nerds and blows him off.

Screen Shot
The best part about flying is catching delicious seagulls.

Setting up her delivery service with the help of a kindly family of bakers, Kiki does deliveries for a variety of interesting clients while Tombo repeatedly tries to win her heart. It finally takes Kiki losing her magical powers (a prevalent theme of the film about self-reliance) and him almost falling to his death from an out of control blimp before anything like hot sex comes into play, but by then the movie’s over and everyone’s singing the Japanese equivalent of good times are here again.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is really pretty, and Miyazaki delights in showing off the landscape at every possible opportunity. For a place that doesn’t exist, Koriko is very detailed, some delivery scenes show Kiki streaking across literally miles of gorgeous backdrop. What’s kind of weird is that the characters are all definite rips of previous Ghibli films. As I mentioned earlier, Kiki is an older version of Satsuki, and the baker’s wife Osono looks like she fell out of Castle in the Sky. (Haha, great pun, rite guyz) The English voices aren’t anything special, despite Disney bringing in some big name talent like Kristen Dunst for Kiki. In fact, Phil Hartman as her cat Jiji is positively annoying. Joe Hisaishi is back again for the music, and has another top-notch performance. If it’s even possible, he actually seems to get better with each passing movie.

Screen Shot
Aww, Kiki gets a big girl broom!

Kiki is a good, solid Miyazaki film. It doesn’t blow you away, like Spirited Away (haha I’m on fire!), but it isn’t completely off-kilter, like Porco Rosso. If anything, it could pass for another kid’s film like Totoro. And dare I mention that it speaks volumes for Miyazaki that the only way to really compare his work is with his own films? Personally speaking, most of my female friends find Kiki to be the most enjoyable of Miyazaki’s works, and the light-hearted love story is probably why. If you manage to land a dorkette, Kiki’s Delivery Service is probably a good date movie.

-Andrew Duff