On July 29th, 1989, Studio Ghibli’s Kiki’s Delivery Service premiered in Japan. It’s the story of a thirteen year-old witch who has to leave home to begin her training. It’s also kind of the story of when you’re completely unprepared to move out from home, have to quickly figure out how to economically survive with few marketable skills, find yourself suffering from writer’s block, and spend a lot of time talking to your cat. So, it’s relatable. And its got one bopping opening song.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is as gorgeous to look at as any Ghibli film (the city is so colorful!), and features one of composer Joe Hisaishi’s most sweeping scores. Where it lacks the action or high stakes of a Princess Mononoke, it makes up in bountiful kindness. This is just one of the most pleasant, gentle movies you’ll ever see. Kiki’s adventures are largely episodic, slice of life storytelling- but it’s my favorite Miyazaki movie in the Ghibli cannon because it’s just the perfect for casually turning on and get a rush of joy.
- There’s lots of endearing minor characters in this film, but my favorite bit player has to Fukuo- the quiet but adorably sweet baker who makes Kiki her logo.
- I’m a fan how this film presents the whole “this is a world where witches are not super common but still generally accepted as thing” without any deeper explanation. Similarly, I like that it beat Spider-Man 2 to the “hero loses powers with no explanation beyond their emotional turmoil ” plot device.
- In the 1998 Disney Dub, Kiki’s cat Jiji is voiced by Simpsons and SNL player Phil Hartman, in one of his final performances before his tragic death. Hartman wasn’t an ideal choice in terms of loyalty to the original version, bringing a more comedic touch to the character- who also was voiced by a woman in the original Japanese film. But it’s still a nice performance that I’m sure many who watched this movie in their childhood adored. The dub was dedicated in his memory.
My only regret: Not claiming today’s Night Thread for a post about singer Kiki Dee, which I could have titled Kiki Dee-livers the Night Thread.