Kiki's Delivery Service
Review by Suzanne Houghton
A film by Hayao Miyazaki, creator of My Neighbor Totoro and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, that focuses on Kiki, a young witch, and her trials in coming of age. According to witch tradition, when a young witch turns 13 she must strike out on her own in a new town and find a specialty of her own. But Kiki, whose one talent is flying (and that not very well), is having trouble adjusting to her new town. An excellent show for children--contains nothing that parents or children might find offensive. Please note that the term "majo," while most closely associated with the English word "witch," contains no negative connotations of evil--Kiki appears to practice white magic.
Review by Charles Peklenk
This movie is widely available in a new edition from Disney/Buena Vista on DVD and VHS. The DVD offers Japanese and Spanish audio tracks, English subtitles, and a few special features. Although the Disney-produced English version is very good, I recommend the original Japanese audio to preserve the original atmosphere of this excellent production.
At the tender age of 13, Kiki leaves her parents' home to live for a year in an unfamiliar city as part of her witch's training, able only to fly (and barely that). The story of her new life and impromptu business, adapted from a Japanese children's book, has a comfortable, episodic style. Kiki and her black cat strike out and find the big city to be cold and impersonal, but a cast of friendly townspeople soon welcomes her. She starts a flying delivery service which leads her into several adventures. When misfortune strikes Kiki, her world is shattered and she sinks into depression. In a thoughtful sequence, one of her new friends helps her get though it, and Kiki rallies her will to deal with the exciting conclusion.
Kiki is at a difficult age. She hardly knows herself, and must deal not with mighty conflicts, but with her own doubts and fears. The ups and downs of Kiki's life invite empathy from the viewer, and the supportive people she finds boldly demonstrate the love and care that people need when life becomes rough.
This movie is delightful through and through. Most children's movies revolve around struggles between good and evil, but Miyazaki proves that a town full of ordinary, decent people can be the setting for a great animated film. The lively musical score is enchanting, a matchless work by Joe Hisaishi. The opening and ending themes by the singer "Yuming" are also crowd-pleasers. As with Totoro, the whole family will enjoy Kiki.
Parent's Guide Rating:
Suitable for Family Viewing
Some parts might not hold the attention of impatient kids. There are lots of good role models. Kiki's bloomers show (very often), but there is no nudity, sex, foul language or double entendres. The movie depicts "good" witches, but does not dwell on their magic or show "bad" witches.
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