Top positive review
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Uplifiting, Warm and Fuzzy - Great Entertainment for All
on 24 March 2005
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.