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Having already been familiar with and a great admirer of some of
Miyazaki's other Ghibli films, including Princess Mononoke, I turned to
Kiki's Delivery Service on the recommendation of someone who suggested
it as "light-hearted" fun. Being an eighteen-year-old male, I didn't
think it would be much more than thata guilty pleasure to indulge in
once in a while, something I could watch and then say, "Aw, what a cute
film!" But Kiki's Delivery Service is so much more than "light-hearted
fun." For one, it is a beautifully animated work of cinematic art, with
Miyazaki's usual flair for gorgeous landscapes and astonishing detail.
As in his recent films Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Miyazaki's
brush paints a beautiful world.
There is not much to be said about the plot itself: Kiki is a 13-year-old witch who has just left home to begin a year of training on her own, and she moves to a seaside European town, befriends a husband and wife baker, and sets up a flying delivery service.
What sets Kiki's Delivery Service apart from many of Miyazaki's other works is the personal, rather than epic, nature of the story. It wonderfully captures the day-to-day life of an aspiring 13-year-old girl moving into the life of a bustling town. While there is plenty to please the thrill-seeking adventurous spirit, the film's real beauty lies in its ability to portray the more introverted aspects of life. Most Western animated cinema centers around loud, pop-influenced music and a bad-guy-fighting action-oriented plot, but Kiki's Delivery Service has a charming and understated musical score, and lacks a traditional antagonist. Life isn't all excitement and fighting bad guyssomething that this film seems to get across more than any Disney, Pixar, Fox, or other Western animated film I've ever seen. In fact, the doldrums of life are what form the heart of this film, as Kiki finds that she begins to lose her witch's abilities and can no longer fly.
Kiki's Delivery Service is a masterpiece, one of my all-time favorite films, and Kiki's search for the heart within herself is a tale that adults may appreciate more than their children. Indeed, Kiki is one of the most appealing characters that Miyazaki ever brought to life, which is certainly saying something. One of Miyazaki's great arts is in never talking down to his audience, and this fantastic story is no exception.
Kiki's Delivery Service is my favorite move. I have seen it at least 10
times and I laughed and cried each time. The animation by Hayao Miyazaki is
wonderful, as always. The flying scenes and scenery of the generic
city are totally convincing. I think I really got a feeling of what it
would be like to fly in on a broom over and through a European city. In
each city scene, I feel like it is some place I have visited in my trips to
What I really appreciate about this movie is the simplicity of the characters and the plot. There are no robots, no psychotic megalomaniacs, no monsters, no superheros, no bratty smarty kids that are smarter than adults, no evil moron adults, and no fight scenes. No one is kidnapped or seriously injured. Even though the movie a about a witch, the only supernatural acts in the movie are Kiki flying on a broom and talking to her cat.
The movie is about a young girl witch who leaves home with her cat Jiji, moves to a new town, and starts a delivery service. In her business she has some adventures and meets mostly nice people who help her out. In the process she meets a boy named Tombo. Tombo does not have any special powers. He is just a nerdy guy who is trying to build a bicycle that can fly. Tombo gets in to some trouble and Kiki helps him out.
That sounds very dull, but by avoiding the supernatural and monsters, the story is much more easy to relate to. It is a story about leaving home and starting anew, meeting people, helping people, and have people help you when you get into trouble. It is very upbeat, even when things look bleak, they work out with a little help from friends. I liked Tombo's problems trying to be friends with Kiki because they seem like the problems people really have. One of the most beautiful scenes in the movie is Tombo silently waiting in the rain for Kiki who never shows up.
This movie is full of silent beauty. When the baker's wife invites Kiki to move in above the bakery, you get the impression that the gruff but silent husband does not care for Kiki. But in a later scene you see that he has baked a loaf of bread shaped like a girl riding a broom and mounted it in the bakery window. Nothing is ever said about it, but you see how he appreciates her.
I have both the dubbed and subtitled version of the movie. They are both great. This movie is one of the best dubbed I have seen. The dubbed version has a lighter, funnier tone because of the wise-cracking Jiji. I felt I could appreciate the animation better in the dubbed version because I did not have to focus on reading the subtitles. In general the voice acting in the dubbed version is excellent. The subtitled version is also the letterbox version, so you get to see the full beauty of the animation. In some of the flying scenes, Jiji is humorously complaining about the flying conditions in the dubbed version, where the subtitled version lets you silently appreciate the beauty of flying. Due to licensing problems the dubbed and subtitled versions have different theme songs. I think both songs are great. I recommend getting both versions.
I kept hearing about how good this movie was, but I put off renting it for the longest time because I dismissed it as some dumb kid's film. Boy, was I wrong! This is a movie that appeals not only to kids, but to teens and adults as well. This is the kind of stuff Disney should be producing nowadays. I own my own copy now and whenever I pop it into my VCR, it always puts me in a good mood.
Another great Miyazaki film. A young witch, with a good heart, leaves
her mom and dad on her 13th birthday with her black cat, as all witches
are supposed to do to complete her training and make it on her own. She
looks for a city in need of a witch and finds a city near an ocean. She
meets some other good hearted people who help her along the way.
There really isn't a villain in the movie and it's mainly a slice of life type of film. In the end of the film it all comes together and she performs a heroic act.
I tried to watch the dubbed version. Dunst was fine, but I just couldn't stand Garofolo and Hartman. So set the DVD audio to the original Japanese soundtrack and used English subtitles.
If you watch the dubbed version. Turn on the subtitles and you will see all the additional dialog they added. They just couldn't help padding their roles, especially Hartman.
This ranks up there with Pinocchio as the greatest movie for children ever
made. One huge problem with most animated children's films are that the
plots are so conventional and often contain very 1950s ideals for society
that they become detrimental to society. One's childhood is the most
impressionable time in their life, so movies that are directed towards them
teach them what places different sorts of people play in society. There is a
very humorous, but also very serious bit of dialogue in a film called The
Last Days of Disco where characters discuss the effects Lady and the Tramp
could have on little girls, depicting a young female dog falling for a
vagabond Tramp. This, they muse, sets young women up to fall for rebellious
men later in life. This may seem like a humorous idea, but it's absolutely
true. Even good Disney movies give children these standards. As nice as The
Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella or Snow White and the
Seven Dwarves may be, they basically teach that it is the woman's place to
grow up and get married, prefereably to a handsome rich man (perhaps the
rich part is never said, but both the main male characters in these films do
happen to own castles). The writers of these films probably had no idea
that that is what they were doing, but it is.
That is why Pinocchio is the best Disney movie. It is probably the only Disney animated film that I can think of that actually concerns the predicament of its target audience: children. I can hardly think of a single (American) animated film besides it that has a child as its main character (oh, the Jungle Book, which is also excellent).
Then comes Kiki's Delivery Service. It is an absolutely perfect movie about a young girl out on her own trying to handle the responsibilities of life. It is, in my opinion, the best movie that a child can watch. And not only will it teach children, it is also marvelously animated, directed, and written. There is a plethora of great characters, exciting moments, and imaginative situations. It should also expand a child's mind, not only because of the imagination involved, which will help to break children away from conventions in their film experience, thus making them more intelligent, but because it comes from another culture. It doesn't overtly show its Japaneseness, unless you count the imagination involved (though you should count that as a credit towards Hayao Miyazaki, who is the greatest genius of animation as far as I'm concerned). But it may spark an interest in children old enough to understand that someone from another country made it. Also, for younger kids, Miyazaki's fantastic, equally good My Neighbor Totoro. 10/10
(ps: I have only seen the dubbed version of this film. I find it perfectly acceptable and great. Nothing made me cringe, anyway. I think Kirsten Dunst did a very good job characterizing Kiki, a much better job than Claire Danes did characterizing San from Princess Mononoke.)
This may seem a rehash of the previous comments, but I only now got to
see the Disney dubbed release.
I owned a bootleg copy of Kiki while it was still in Japanese theaters; I fell in love with the movie after first seeing the spectacle of the dirigible crash near the tail end. I learned to worship this movie because of the grandeur, because of the simplicity...
I lost my bootleg copy, and after the American release, began hunting down the laserdisc. A year of searching, I finally found it... was it worth the wait? Yes, with reservations...
I am (overly) familiar with the Japanese version, and did not want to be burdened with the "star" American voices; my wife doesn't like foreign-language film, though, so I needed the English version. With the LD, I got both benefits without having to purchase 2 VHS versions, and got to do some interesting side-by-side comparisons- switching between languages, watching the Japanese language version with the sub-titles for the English version, etc.
First off- this *is* Miyazaki, and *this* is animation. It is utterly beautiful, and the story is a wonderful one for both children and adults. There are very few people who will not be charmed by this... except maybe teenage boys, who don't want to be caught liking something so sweet. Otherwise, I can safely recommend any version to anybody.
Miyazaki films often prefer to paint a scene with pictures and music, not words. The English translation is an egregious offender here; what in the Japanese version are vignettes and scenes that are wordless become in the English version open chances for Phil Hartman and Kirsten Dunst to wisecrack, chat, or what-have-you. I feel that this is due to Disney's belief that children in America must be entertained for every second of a movie, lest their minds wander off.
Just as many people find Japanese dialogue to be grating on the ears, so do I find the English language voice actors to be grating. Actually, mainly just (the late) Phil Hartman. His nasal, loud voice just does not fit JiJi, a cute, diminutive cat. Kirsten does an okay job, although her voice sounds a wee bit older than Kiki's 13.
Already being familiar with the film, I have to admit being disappointed with the English version... it's a necessary evil, and I'm glad that my wife can enjoy the film now; but I feel that no matter how well-intentioned, Miyazaki's vision was dimmed somewhat in the Americanization. If the only version to come out had been an English version, I honestly would have rather imported a copy from Japan than support Disney.
All that being said, though, I would place the English-language Kiki far above most Disney efforts, and especially above Disney's modern efforts. I sincerely recommend that everyone watch Kiki once; if you like it, try the Japanese-language version (Buena Vista has released a VHS, widescreen, sub-titled Japanese version. Thank you, Disney!) And if you are a Disney film fan, you owe it to yourself to see what the Japanese can do.
First of all, 10 points to Ghibli for Variety. Producing this and
'Grave of the Fireflies' inside a year of each other would be like
Disney doing 'Mary Poppins' and 'Judgement at Nuremberg' back to back.
Words that spring to mind after watching Kiki include 'delightful', 'light', 'bouyant', and so forth. It's obvious Miyazaki has refined his craft considerably from the early movies, which somehow seemed a bit... I don't know - stuttery. Kiki, though just flows effortlessly. Combine this with the beautiful use of lighting and colour to produce that summertime, Mediterranean sort of feel, and Kiki is a movie that is just thoroughly uplifting, never getting bogged down in complexities or dark intrigues.
Unfortunately - and this is the only thing holding it back from 4 stars from me - what it does get slightly bogged down in, is its own lightness. There were just a few sections where the lack of a villain, of any real action, of anything other than people being nice to each other, took the top 10% off what was otherwise a masterful movie. I suppose there were a few other flaws, too: some characters and situations which came into it were just not developed at all. And there was one moment that teetered on real poignancy - the old dog with what he thought was a stuffed toy - but it sort of didn't happen. Also allowing the cat - sorry, forgotten his name - to drop out of proceedings for most of the latter half the film, definitely removed a spark from the film (I can't believe I just complained about the LACK of a comic sidekick)
BTW, as someone who lives in Tasmania, which is allegedly the inspiration for much of the setting of this film, please come here by all means, but don't expect it to look like that. The bakery in Ross (central Tasmania) which supposedly inspired the one in the film is in one of the few Tasmanian towns that you _can't_ see the ocean from, and the general look of the movie is distinctly southern European, though I guess some of the rural shots look a bit Tasmanian.
Whatever the case, Miyazaki's attention to detail is, as usual, stunning. The town may have been cobbled together from his favourite bits of Italy, France, Tasmania and wherever else, but its nothing less than a labour of love nonetheless.
Anyway, 8 out of 10.
I've been a fan of the original "Majo no takkyubin" for a long time, and
I've been extremely pessimistic about American dubs of Japanese animation,
which have ranged from barely tolerable to scrape-it-off-your-shoe
When I heard Disney had bought distribution rights, I wondered whether a
big-name animation studio would do right by this film.
Well, I've now seen the Disney version and I'm a little disappointed. Like most other American studios, Disney assumes that anything animated must be aimed solely at children under five. Much of the charm and subtlety of the original film is lost in this dubbed version, and in a few places the translation just plain doesn't make sense. Phil Hartman is funny as the smart-alecky Jiji, and despite his frequent ad-libs, the part comes off reasonably well. But if you've seen and liked the Disney version of this film, do yourself a favor and dig up the original Japanese (subtitled) version. You'll see what Hayao Miyazaki really wanted you to see.
i've only seen the dub, but I must say this movie is superb, fantastic, wonderful and worthy of all the praise it gets. it's heartfelt, funny, and all in all a wonderful movie. the plot, characters, everything about this movie is perfect. it makes me feel oh so good when i watch it. I honestly see nothing wrong with this movie, not a thing. it's quite possibly the greatest coming of age story ever. This movie is too damn good for a review written by me out of complete bordem, so i'll end it by saying if you can a copy, dub or subtitled, rent/buy/steal it. i don't think you'll be disaponited. So go on and get a copy before I beat you. GO NOW.
Though not as entertaining for real young children as Miyazaki's My Neighbor
Totoro, pre-teens with a long attention span (nearly two hours) and who
prefer pacing and atmosphere over flashing lights and singing characters
will likely love this movie. Though certainly not a feminist movie, KDS
provides a positive (if old-fashioned) role model for young women. Unlike
most American films, the movie shows a girl realizing her own power as a
person not chanting feel-good slogans ("I am not a victim" American Beauty)
but through hard work and being herself.
As part of her witch training, when Kiki turns thirteen she has to live away from home for a year. After some sweet (but not saccharine) scenes with the mother and father, Kiki flies off on her broom, careening off trees and bridges. She falls asleep in a train and finds herself near a town on the sea. Since there are no witches there, Kiki chooses the town. As it turns out, though, not everyone is fond of witches. Don't worry, this isn't Salem. They only do what Japanese tend to do with unwanted guests--they ignore her. After finding a foster home, Kiki decides to set up an air delivery service.
For the most part, the movie is only thinly plotted (or heavily plotted, depending on your view). The main focus is on Kiki's emotions, although to Americans they may seem rather subdued because they are not underlined (this is a Japanese movie, after all). In one of the more overtly emotional scenes, she sheds a couple of tears because of a mixture of happy and sad emotions and then suddenly smiles. Kiki does get overly excited at times, just like most girls her age, and in the Japanese version she continually says "taihen" ("tough" or "difficult") whenever she's running late or has trouble controlling her broom. Her less overt emotions are caught on closer inspection: watch for the bathroom scene, the "oh my god I almost died" scene, and the scene when she walks by a group of giggling girls.
Also, keep an eye out for references to The Wizard of Oz.
Kirstin Dunst as Kiki does a great job pretending that she's thirteen instead of about sixteen. And the sound technicians do a fantastic job varying the voice track so that it doesn't sound flat (I never knew what an important job sound technicians had until I watched the dubbed version of Ghost in the Shell and compared it to the original version). Phil Hartman (in his last role) does a very strange take on the normally high-pitched Jiji, Kiki's black cat. Matthew Lawrence as Kiki's boy friend isn't bad, and neither is Debbie Reynolds as an elderly client. Honestly, none of the dubbing is bad (except the never-seen father of a young boy, who is just over-the-top in a scene that was subdued and thoughtful in the Japanese version).
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