Hayao Miyazaki directed and wrote the screenplay for Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989). Kiki’s, is a film about a 13 year old witch on a journey. As is customary for witches in her world, she has to leave home for a year when she’s 13 and train to become a witch in a new community. This film accompanies to her journey to a new place as she meets new people, animals, finds a new job, and discovers what makes her magic work.
Kiki’s is an animated, comedic movie that captures the essence of a young colt trying to walk for the first time. Kiki’s journey is a little bumpy at times and clumsy but it only endears the audience to her. Although the film has comedic little moment sprinkled throughout, they aren’t what makes the audience laugh all the time. It is what is captured that keeps the smile on your face. Although most of us aren’t witches, I can vouch in saying that most of us can relate to Kiki even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Most of Miyazaki’s work are imbued with a moral lesson, Kiki’s is no exception. He often uses strong, resilient, pure-hearted characters to bring his stories to reality. Kiki’s lesson is about stubbornness, confidence, and about finding yourself when you are lost. As always, acts of kindness always go a long way in Miyazaki’s films and were integral to this story.
Because of this, I would say that Kiki’s is more about the character than it is about the story. We have all heard the story before of someone traveling and finding themselves but there is a spark created when Kiki is added to the mix. Without Kiki, there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell. I don’t know about you, but I am up to here but stories about people vacationing and finding themselves in, say, Rome. However, add a young witch to the mix and her fellow animal companion and BOOM you have a story. It also goes a long way that Miyazaki always ensures that the character is well rounded and their growth is continual throughout the film.
There is also the added effect of the design that goes along with the film. Miyazaki is well known for his consistent art style. It’s soft, and (of course) animated, but it holds a simplicity that is hard to replicate and goes a long way for his young characters. His style is iconic and fluid and it has a way of endearing you even more to the characters it portrays. Miyazaki relies on his drawing style and his character’s actions to deliver the movie so the music he uses in it is sparse and only used to add a whimsical mood. Because our young witch is always flying, there are multiple sections of her flying upwards into the air (if somewhat clumsily). Through the story of Kiki’s journey, it is clear to see that the message behind the film is to find yourself, find what makes you spark, and help those in your journey.
For the most part of the movie, Kiki battles with nature and herself. Whether it’s new animals, the wind, or simply just some rain, Kiki just makes things happen sometimes. We all know how it feels to be caught in a downpour without an umbrella, and trust me, Kiki has been there. Because this is about Kiki’s journey there is also the added parameter of Kiki vs. Kiki as she tries to strengthen her magic.
This film is amazing. It gives you child-like wonder packed in an hour and forty-three minutes in a way that only Hayao Miyazaki can. This movie has been one of my favorites by Miyazaki since I first saw it when I was ten. The simplicity just latches on to you, makes you laugh, smile, and totally forget about anything else. It is simply captivating. It teleports the viewer back to childhood and allows them to just relax and remember. The film gently eases the viewer back in the first 10 minutes but after that initial nudge, I find it very hard to believe that someone would stop watching this movie.
9 out of 10 strawberries