THE PLOT THUS FAR
In Hayao Miyazaki’s magical Kiki’s Delivery Service, a 13-year-old girl meets the world head on as she spends her first year soloing as an apprentice witch. Kiki (Kirsten Dunst) is still a little green and plenty headstrong, but also resourceful, imaginative, and determined. With her trusty wisp of a cat Jiji (a gently subdued Phil Hartman) by her side she’s ready to take on the world, or at least the quaintly European seaside village she’s chosen as her new home. Miyazaki’s gentle rhythm and meandering narrative capture the easy pulse of real life (even if his subject is a girl flying high upon a broomstick) and charts the everyday struggles and growing pains of his plucky heroine with sensitivity and understanding. Beautifully detailed animation and the rich designs of the picture-postcard seaside town of red-tiled roofs and cobblestone streets only add to the sense of wonder. This charming animated fantasy is a wholesome, life-affirming picture that doesn’t speak down to kids or up to adults.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is about 13-year old Kiki, an adorable witch-in-training, who, on one moonlit night, leaves her hometown to seek her independence and fortune. She’s accompanied by her wisecracking and hilarious pet black cat, Jiji, and a little wobbly when it comes to takeoffs and landings while maneuvering her broomstick. Kiki arrives at a luxurious town with an ocean view where she eventually finds work at a bakery run by the generous Osono and her silent, gruff husband. There, she starts a high-flying delivery service which opens up many new relationships for the budding witch — including a friendly painter, Ursula, a kind old woman, Madame, and a boy named Tombo, who dreams of flying.
The film depends strongly on its heroine and the way she learns from the world and the people around her as she grows up. Kiki is a thirteen-year-old witch in training who leaves her home to start her required period of living on her own to discover her talents. Kiki and her cat sidekick Jiji jet out on her broom to a city (vaguely European, with traces of Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam) and settle down at a friendly baker’s shop, where Kiki establishes her own broom-powered delivery service. The story follows her troubles and joys, such as her friendship with a local boy inventor Tombo, her meeting with nature-loving artist Ursula, the tricks and difficulties of making deliveries, and the possible loss of her powers when she starts to lose belief in herself. It all climaxes in a thrilling action sequence that Superman would be proud of.
The movie leaps from wonderful sequence to wonderful sequence: Kiki’s passionate farewell to her parents, her first flight over the city, Tombo’s wild ride on his experimental flying bike, a dangerous flight through a flock of birds, the action-packed finale, and the many terrific meetings between Kiki and other charming characters. Watching Kiki learn and grow will have an affect on children young and old: everybody can take something away from the lessons Kiki learns about herself. And of course, the animation is dazzling; not only the sweeping visuals, but the nuances of the characters’ expressions and movements.
The Blu-Ray comes with original Japanese storyboards, promo materials, featurettes and an introduction from John Lasseter as the special features. The A/V Quality is insanely strong. However, the DTS-HD master audio track is a 2.0 mix. While that’s period appropriate, it breaks with the recent weird push to mono for Miyazaki stuff. The 1080p transfer is spotless. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.
RELEASE DATE: 11/18/2014