16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
There's magic in the air with Kiki's delivery service!,
This review is from: Kiki's Delivery Service [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
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).