77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Everyone has a soft-spot, and I figure mine is in my DVD collection. Films are supposed to cater for our needs, and when I need to curl up in front of something uplifting, I need to have a copy Kiki's Delivery Service to hand. The first time I watched it, I had to have cosmetic surgery to remove the huge grin the film had forced my mouth to adopt. Despite doctor's warnings I popped the DVD into a player this afternoon and spent my time grinning, gasping, cheering and everything else all-over again. Few movies really illicit an emotional response from me, but I would be even harder pressed to name movies that make me emotional out of sheer happiness.
Kiki's Delivery Service in a nutshell: a 13 year old witch leaves home and sets up a delivery service in a seaside town, and umm... delivers stuff. It's not an action-packed, high octane thriller, but it IS well paced and the delivery challenges Kiki faces - which were I to name them, may seem rather dull - are exciting. The whole "coming of age" scenario is easy to relate to (even retrospectively), and the whole wonder of discovery and independence that this film oozes is helped by the beautiful artwork of the film.
Negatives? Well it's a single DVD release with minimal special features - just the full-length storyboards which are of debateable appeal, though worth ducking into for a look sometime. The subtitles are a bone of contention here - only "English for the hearing impaired" is available, despite the box claiming there to be both plain and hard of hearing english subtitles. In fact, this is actually true - plain English subtitles exist on the DVD, but you can only have them if you're watching the storyboards! The subtitles are of debateable quality in translation terms. I personally get the sense that they relate more to the English dub than the Japanese voices, yet certain bits of dialogue added (as Disney feel they must) into the English Dub are not subtitled.
Yet, I couldn't possibly give this film less than the full 5 stars. KDS is a film for just about everyone. The relative lack of action will inevitably put some off, but it is still well paced and I defy anyone to claim that they didn't still enjoy it after watching it. Most importantly (even speaking as an Anime fan) I can guarantee that the fact that this is anime will not get in the way of your enjoyment of the film. Regardless of the fact that anime is needlessly shunned by the UK mainstream, KDS isn't overtly Japanese in its style or presentation. I don't doubt that only a Japanese studio could come up with something as sublime as this film, but the setting, characters, artwork and messages are far more appealing to a Western audience than the vast majority of anime.
If you're looking at this film off the back of another Ghibli production - Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke or even Grave of the Fireflies or Castle in the Sky, you'll find more of the magic and artistic integrity that you found in those films. If you're young, old, male or female, you will inevitably enjoy this film, though an audience of serial killers or male teenagers would probably not be so interested... But then, I personally like to imagine that every stereotypical monosyllabic pubescent guy has a pink-sleeved, U-Rated and sugary sweet Kiki DVD stashed away where their peer-group can't see.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2004
Family entertainment usually sends shivers down my spine. It means movies my kids will enjoy and I'll sit with a horrific grin waiting for it all to be over. Kiki is different, it's warm, beautifully animated and has a heart of gold. There are enough jokes to keep my young son laughing and a few moments of genuine depth that will moisten the eyes of even the most cynical adult viewer. If you have a young family, buy this DVD, I promise it will become a firm favourite and makes a delightful and most welcome break from shallow western animated offerings.
Thank you Kiki!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2013
This is just to inform everyone who purchased KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE on UK Blu-Ray, that the sleeve is incorrectly printed - sort of.
At the moment, it has the number "5" printed at the top of the Blu-Ray spine. This is correct, but so does WHISPER OF THE HEART. WHISPER... sleeves should have the number "11" printed on it instead, NOT "5".
Anyone wanting a free, replacement WHISPER OF THE HEART Blu-Ray Sleeve, with the correct number on it, needs to go to Facebook, and send a message to StudioGhibliUK. Include your name and address, and then when new sleeves for WHISPER OF THE HEART get printed, they will be sent out to you, free of charge!
Message correct as of July 2013.
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the earliest from Miyazaki's famous Studio Ghibli, the greatest makers of Japanese hand-drawn anime films. Kiki is a thirteen-year-old witch, and daughter of a witch, who is eager to leave home and spend a year working away from home. Her only talent is flying on her broomstick, but she sets off with her black cat and finds a big city by the sea.
Cheerful, polite and innocent, Kiki needs her cat's sarcasm to make her way in the busy streets. She gets a job delivering presents for customers who visit the kind bakers who give her a home, but is shocked by the rudeness and spoilt behaviour of some, especially a girl her own age. A bespectacled boy on a bike becomes her friend, but Kiki undergoes a crisis of confidence in her own powers which results in her suddenly being unable to fly. Only when she looks within herself can she rescue her new friend after a zeppelin flight goes disastrously wrong....
All the Studio Ghibli trademarks which eventually featured in the masterpiece Spirited Away are here - rippling grasses, trains, weird buildings and pubescent heroines - but the story and psychology are much slighter. Characters have an irritating habit of suddenly breaking into wide cartoony laughter at odds with the charming gravity that is their habitual expression. My children preferred the sardonic cat to Kiki, and we all loathed her boyfriend. However, the beauty of the drawing and the attentiveness to small details such as a crumbling wall in a city alley make this worth having. Children of 5-8 will find it especailly enjoyable, as it is interesting but never frightening.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
One of the fortuitous results of "Spirited Away" ("Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi") winning the Oscar for Best Animated Film for the great anime director Hayao Miyazaki is that his other works are becoming readily available on DVD in the United States as well. A case in point is "Kiki's Delivery Service" ("Majo no takkyubin," literarlly "The Witch's Express Mail"), which tells the story of Kiki O'Connell (voice by Kirsten Dunst), a young witch who has turned 13 and has to go off on her own for a year of training, accompanied only by her black cat Gigi (voiced by Phil Hartman). "Training" is actually a misnomer, because what Kiki does is get on her broomstick, fly off towards the ocean and finds a beautiful European styled city that does not have a witch. Instead of serving some sort of formal apprenticeship to an older witch, Kiki has to survive on her own, and when she helps Osono (Tress MacNeille) return a pacifier to a customer who left I behind at the bakery, she stumbles upon a job that will help her earn her way.
What makes "Kiki's Delivery Service" work is that fact that everybody in the city accepts Kiki's presence. It has been years since the city had a witch, and the police think she has to obey the rules just like everybody else and not cause accidents flying around on her broomstick, but everybody accepts Kiki at face value and offers her encouragement and support. Included in this group would be Ursula (Janeane Garofalo), an artist living in the forest, Madame (Debbie Reynolds) and her housekeeper Bertha (Edie McClurg), a couple of old ladies who take a liking to the young witch, and especially Tombo (Matthew Lawrence), a young boy who would like to fly just like Kiki. Ultimately "Kiki's Delivery Service" is not about what others think about Kiki but rather what she thinks about herself, especially when she starts confronting the doubts of adolescence that could ground a young witch who starts doubting herself.
True, this film suffers in comparison to "Spirited Away," but then that is going to be true of most animated films. The important thing is that "Kiki's Delivery Serivces" represents Miyazaki's vivid imagination and his painstaking attention to detail and insistence on putting in as much into each frame of animation as possible. The result is not great, but utterly charming, which is high praise given what most animation is like even today where computers are doing too much of the heavy lifting. Note: I am not sure if this was Phil Hartman's last work before his death, but it should be noted that his Gigi has a lot more lines than in the original Japanese version (you will notice this and other changes when you watch the film with subtitles instead of the dubbed track, which, of course, is something you always want to do with anime at some point while watching the film again).
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2003
Kiki's Delivery Service isn't the first Miyazaki film i've seen but it's stuck as one of my favourites. It follows a young witch called Kiki who has a family tradition where she has to go away for a year (when she turns 13) and start her witches training and develop her skills.
But although Kiki finds the city she'd always imagined she'd live in the world has moved forwards and this new place is bigger and less friendly than her old hometown. Feeling out of place she eventually comes across Osono a woman kind enough to give her a chance and Kiki sets up a delivery service to earn her way.
It's a good lighthearted film that could have a few meanings if you looked at it in that way, it's about growing up basically and it's a message that you must persevere and always have belief in yourself.
The artwork is fabulous, the usual Studio Ghibli standard and the soundtrack can get catchy after you've watched this a few times. The bonus's aren't much but the second disk (if it's included in this package) has complete storyboards from the film playing as the film goes on (as in we have all the talking and background music but the images we see are the storyboard sketches).
It's a good harmless film for everyone, and everyone should see it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2014
Kiki's Delivery Service is a wonderful animation about a young witch who leaves home to find independence but this is a review, not for the actual film, but the product itself (region 2 DVD). Due to it being part of the Studio Ghibli Collection line of DVDs I did not expect to find any issues as I have purchased others in this line before, all in excellent quality. With this one, however, I immediately spotted a glaring issue from the onset. Within only a few minutes into the film, in one short scene, I saw a big drop in quality that made the image look blurry and the lines unclear as if it had been ripped from a low-quality video source. This wasn't the only point in the film that the quality dropped. The entire opening title sequence where Kiki is flying into the night listening to her radio is in this poor quality, as well as the whole of the end credits sequence.
No other review mentions this problem but I did find that it was detailed on a website that compared three different releases and it says that this problem is on the region 2 2006 DVD release. After watching the film, instead of feeling satisfied like I did on my first viewing, I felt rather disappointed.
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2006
Kiki's Delivery Service is a beautiful gentle film, about love and friendship. I love it and so do my children (aged 6 and 3) who watch it again and again. It doesn't have the saccharine cliches of a disney film, or the surreal qualities of Howl's Moving Castle or Spirited Away, but it is a simple story of triumph over adversity that anyone of any age can relate to. Anyone who doesn't enjoy it has missed it's point completely. Like Chihiro, Kiki is a REAL hero for all ages.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2004
I totally enjoyed this film and I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Studio Ghibli films, or simply wish to try something new. The beginning of the film shows Kiki in a countryside village and then she sets off to the city to seek her fortune, meeting difficulties and new friends along the way. In my opinion, Kiki is just a typical 13-year old girl (apart from the fact that she is a witch, of course), but because she is a witch, she gets laughed at by other children. However, she always does her best and brings a smile to the audience.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2015
Of all the Studio Ghibli films out there, this is one of my personal favourites. Not only is 'Kiki's Delivery Service' a beautiful piece of animation with a charming and heartfelt story, but it's messages of independence, and maturity, are very influential to people both young and old. In fact, critics consider this one of Hayao Miyazaki's greatest works. It was the highest-grossing Japanese film of 1989 and one of only three Studio Ghibli films to receive a perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes (the other two being 'Only Yesterday' and 'The Tale of Princess Kaguya'). So what is it about this spin on the fantasy of witches that makes it an animated classic. Let's start with the story.
The story is about Kiki, a 13-year-old witch, who leaves home to live alone for a year as part of her training. Along with her talking black cat Jiji, she arrives in Kiriko, a city by the sea, where she decides to stay and become the local witch. After a shaky start, she befriends a friendly baker named Osono and decides to start a flying delivery service to earn her living (since flying is all she can really to do). Along the way, she makes new friends and comes to learn more about who she is as person.
As I mentioned above, the story emphasises a lot about independence and maturity, and it's what I love most about the film. From the very beginning, we're taken on a personal journey with Kiki, which allows us to see just how she develops from a child into adulthood. The opening has her (literally and figuratively) flying the nest and leaving the comfort of her family and friends behind. In her early days, she struggles to find her feet, since she's inexperienced of how the world works. But with the help of some friendly people, she's able to find accommodation and even works a job to support herself. After that Kiki takes control of her life by starting her own business and getting to know more about the people she encounters - she even comes to like some people she was initially cautious or hateful towards. There are still mistakes she makes along the way, but they're all a part of the learning-curb which helps her to grow as a person. The best part is, she's not alone. In moments of self-doubt she has friends to support her every step of the way - just like somebody would in real life.
Because of the overall theme of growth and independence, 'Kiki's Delivery Service' appeals to all audiences. Teenagers and adults can relate to Kiki's experiences, because they've all gone through similar issues at some point in their own lives. And children can enjoy the film, whilst being taught the values of independence. In fact, that's what makes 'Kiki's Delivery Service' so great as a children's movie; kids everywhere can learn from Kiki's example and see her as a role model for their own personal development. There's even a scene in the end credits where Kiki spots a little girl walking by with her mother and she's dressed up as Kiki - broom and all. If that's not a sign of a true role model, then I don't know what is.
Another character I have to mention is Jiji. Some of you may not know this, but Jiji actually represents the immature side of Kiki. Think about it: he's Kiki's one true connection to her life back home, where things were always easy for her; he's less enthusiastic about Kiki going on her journey and even tries to discourage her from leaving early or staying in Kiriko, and although he makes many snide and funny remarks he's really the one person (or pet) Kiki can speak to in the beginning. It's only later that Kiki makes new friends and so needs Jiji, and the comfort of home, less and less. In fact, this is represented perfectly through a major event in the story (spoiler alert). At one point Kiki loses her ability to speak to Jiji, so he just sounds like a regular cat. In the original (Japanese) dub this loss is permanent and Kiki never understands Jiji again. Some people may find this upsetting, but since Jiji represents the immature side of Kiki, the message by the end of the film is that Kiki has matured beyond the need to speak to her cat. The English dub did change this slightly by adding a line at the end that implies Kiki is once again able to understand Jiji - they obviously wanted to keep things happy for the kids. The change was approved by Hayao Miyazaki.
Speaking of Miyazaki, he actually contributed a lot to this film. Not only was he the writer of the screenplay, but also the director and producer. Making this the only Studio Ghibli film where Miyazaki performed all three roles - usually he'd just write and direct his movies, or do one role or the other. In fact, 'Kiki's Delivery Service' is the last Ghibli film to date that wasn't produced by Toshio Suzuki.
But back on to the characters, Kiki is yet another example of a strong female lead in a Studio Ghibli feature. She's relatable by how she acts like a typical teenage girl (e.g. wishing she had prettier clothes and disliking boys, like Tombo), but she also has a strong desire to take command of her own life and be independent without becoming rebellious. This makes her similar to other Ghibli heroines like Chihiro, San and Nausicaa ('Spirited Away', 'Princess Mononoke' and 'Valley of the Wind', respectively). Plus, Jiji is a lovable side-kick, who's always a pleasure to listen to just by how funny he is.
Another thing worth mentioning about this film is some of the actors who took part in it. Many of them have voiced characters in other Studio Ghibli films like 'Porco Rosso' and 'Pom Poko'. These include Pamela Adlon, Tress MacNeille, Debi Derryberry, Jeff Bennet and Brad Garret (although the latter was uncredited). But the most recognisable voices, in my opinion, are Kirsten Dunst as Kiki and Phil Hartman as Jiji. Sadly, this was known to be one of Hartman's last voice roles before his death in 1998. Along with 'Small Soldiers' (another movie staring Kirsten Dunst) and 1998's 'Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night', this film was dedicated to him.
In conclusion, 'Kiki's Delivery Service' is a Studio Ghibli film I would honestly recommend to everyone. The messages behind its narrative are some of the most influential I've ever experienced, and they're something anybody can understand and relate to.
But there are a couple other reasons why I like this movie, too. In several parts of the story, Kiki encounters a young amateur painter named Ursula, who teaches her about motivation and self-confidence. She explains how there are days when she could paint all day until she "fell asleep right at [her] easel," but other days when she couldn't draw anything at all. She tells Kiki that whenever days like this occur, it's important to just take a break, enjoy yourself and not think about the problem. It's no use trying to force yourself to do better, as that will just cause you self-doubt and make you hate the thing you once loved. It's all about finding the right inspiration; once you've taken the time to discover what your purpose for working really is, you'll come to love it even more and be able to return to it with more energy and motivation than you ever did before. I find this so enlightening as an amateur writer that whenever I get writer's block I watch this film - and 'Whisper of the Heart' (1995) - to get my confidence back.
Another good thing about the story is its unique twist on a specific genre. Usually stories involving witches are dark tales that either have wicked women trying to cause harm, or misunderstood characters who're feared and hated because of what they are. In 'Kiki's Delivery Service', however, it's clear the characters live in a world where people gladly accept the existence of witches and see them for the good people they are. This ultimately makes the story more child-friendly and keeps the focus on Kiki as a person, rather than her a witch.
With everything I've had to say in this review you can tell just how passionate I am about this film and why I think everybody should see it. 'Kiki's Delivery Service' is a true masterpiece of Japanese animation that's up there with the likes of 'Spirited Away' (2001) and 'Howl's Moving Castle' (2004).
My next review will be on 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky'. Stay tuned.