Kiki's Delivery Service This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 1, 2012
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Out of all the movies I was going to see for Miyazaki Mania, I had the highest expectations for Kiki’s Delivery Service. So I was really looking forward to seeing this one, and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. The movie is about a young witch named Kiki and her cat Gigi searching for a place to call home and eventually landing in the big city. Now, here are the first two things I got from this movie. The story is great because they keep it simple, It’s all about Kiki and what happens to her in town, the people she meets, and the problems that arise. For the most part it doesn’t really escalate from that, and that’s something that I really actually love about this movie - there doesn’t need to be a villian; there doesn’t need to be a problem that could destroy the world, because you really don’t need that in this movie. It holds up fine on its own and doesn’t need any extra pizzazz.

The second thing I thought right at the beginning of this movie, is that the main character is also great. She is always trying to be more mature than she actually is - but when it comes right down to it - she is just a kid. For the most part, she acts like a kid whether she likes it or not. She’s also a very emotional character, which I’m starting to see less and less of in female characters these days. These days whenever people want to make a strong female character, they end up making them very stoic, very cool and for the most part, very unemotional, even with young characters, which is something that really bothers me because it is very unrealistic. People are emotional and when you stop them from feeling any negative emotions for the sake of looking strong or cool, you don’t gain the independent woman factor and you lose the human factor. Kiki thankfully, is an example of a strong character done right. She’s smart, she’s tough, but at the same time stuff gets to her. Some of it she is able to brush off, but sometimes she just needs to have a good cry.

The supporting cast is pretty good in this movie too. I like the lady who owns the bakery; I like her husband; I like the two old ladies; and, I really like the artist who Kiki ends up befriending. Oddly enough though, the two characters who everyone else seems to love, I don’t. People seem to like alot the boy who comes in a little later -- I have to admit that I don’t hate him -- I just thought he was simply okay. The character I ended up hating was Gigi, who seemed to exist for only three reasons: to make a joke I don’t find that funny; to say something sarcastically; or, to point out the painfully obvious. Now, there have been characters in Miyazaki’s films who have done this before such as Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle or the parents from My Neighbors the Yamadas, and pretty much everyone from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. But, God, do I find Gigi annoying. It also doesn’t help that he sounds like a less enjoyable Billy Crystal and for all I know Billy Crystal could have played him. It’s not the first time he has appeared in a Miyazaki movie. Overall though, it is very hard to get across how annoying Gigi can really be. In the third act of the movie, Gigi loses the ability to speak and I was probably the only in person in the audience who was genuinely happy.

Something else to comment on is that there are almost always three things that show up in a Miyazaki movie. The first of which is a character gorging on a meal. And it’s weird to say, but I really like how Kiki eats – which is a really odd thing to comment on - but it is something that really struck me about this. There was something remarkable about the way she ate food. For the most part, she tries to be refined and eat like a proper little lady, but sometimes she eats like she is really hungry and just inhales it. I don’t know why that stuck with me, but it is one of the many subtle things in this movie that just made me love it. The second thing - and I’m not sure if this was in Kiki’s Delivery Service - but you can see it in movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, The Secret World of Arrietty and other Miyazaki films. Now, bear with me here. There will be a moment when a character has a type of food on top of a piece of toast. The character will then pick up said toast, eat the food on top of the bread, finish it, and then proceed to eat the bread, thereby completely defeating the purpose of having put the food on the bread in the first place. I know this is a freaking strange thing to comment on, but it is something that always stuck with me in Studio Ghibli films. I know its weird to put that into this review, but I noticed it during Miyazaki Mania (and well...I had to put it somewhere). The third thing is flight. And this film portrays flight perfectly – at least for a movie like this. Flying in this movie looks fun! And the way the shots are set up, you feel like you are flying right next to Kiki (no 3D required). Most Miyazaki movies do a good job of portraying flight. The ones that would immediately come to mind are Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away and The Cat Returns. On the other hand, there are your films like Nausicaa and Howl’s Moving Castle, where I found the act of flight to be extremely boring, mostly due to how slow everything feels and in some cases how boring the backgrounds are. Kiki doesn’t have this problem, The backgrounds look awesome and the animation on Kiki’s dress perfectly simulates the idea that wind is just whipping around her.

People couldn’t stop telling me how great Kiki’s Delivery Service was, and I have to say that I can definitely see where they are coming from. This movie has great animation, great characters, and a very relaxing story, if that makes any sense. At the end of Miyazaki Mania I’ll be putting together a list of the top 10 Miyazaki films I have seen and I can safely say that this film will be pretty high up there.

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