HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Annette
Shepherd
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Swallow
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Maelstrom
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Bull
Censor
Sleep
Freaky
Nightbooks
Whisker Away, A
Wild Indian
Whale Island
Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires
Don't Breathe 2
Closing Time
Cryptozoo
Weathering with You
Rim of the World
Love & Basketball
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
   
 
Newest Articles
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
   
 
  Kiki's Delivery Service Little witch in a big, wide world
Year: 1989
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Stars: (English version), Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman, Debbie Reynolds
Genre: Animated, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 5 votes)
Review: Kiki is thirteen years old and a junior witch. Now she has come of age, family tradition means Kiki has to fly away from home and spend one year in an unfamiliar town. Kiki has never been away from her loving parents and frets because her only skill is knowing how to fly, but she embraces life with hope and enthusiasm. Bidding goodbye to friends and family and, accompanied by her talking cat, Jiji, she rides her broomstick to a sleepy, seaside town called Koriko - a town that doesn’t yet have a witch. A friendly baker offers Kiki a room, and she discovers being able to fly makes her the perfect courier. Delivering letters and packages, Kiki befriends young artist Ursula, has her first romance with airplane-crazy Tombo, and wins hearts all over town. Then one day, Kiki suffers a crisis of confidence, and suddenly finds she cannot fly…

This lyrical, low-key charmer was Studio Ghibli’s first mega-blockbuster. Thereafter, a new Hayao Miyazaki animation would be crowned Japan’s highest grossing movie every three years. How could such a gentle film, with no villains, no conflict save for a young girl’s private fears, hit so big? The answer lies in its target audience. Whereas Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) had been a boy’s own adventure and My Neighbour Totoro (1988) was a childhood fantasy, Kiki’s Delivery Service was intended for young girls. It’s a little known fact that, in Japan, the biggest consumers of manga aren’t twenty-something sci-fi geeks or adolescent boys, but teenage girls. Write something that appeals to them and you’re golden. But Kiki’s isn’t a cynical ploy to tap into a lucrative market. It is a sincere attempt to create a loving, nurturing world where adolescent girls may come of age. Miyazaki envisions a world that melds old fashioned values (courtesy, gentility, fortitude) with a progressive modern outlook (tolerance, independence).

Although based on a children’s book by Eiko Kadono, it was Miyazaki who wove Kiki’s crisis of self-belief into the plot. The result is a rare story that takes the anxieties of teenage girls seriously, without resorting to clichés. Kiki is neither a young hell-raiser nor a nerdy outsider yearning for the in-crowd. She can be confident, bubbly, awkward, shy, brassy, moody or sweet. In short, she’s real. Miyazaki’s sublime visual invention renders lazy afternoons, teenage awkwardness, acts of kindness and subtle gestures into engaging cinema. Animation is all about movement, so the achievement here is making a series of quiet, everyday interactions hypnotically compelling. That isn’t to say the film lacks action. Kiki’s daredevil aerial rescue is one of the most exciting animated set-pieces of all time. Flight serves as a metaphor (Not for the first time in a Miyazaki movie), a representation of young ideals rising, falling, and soaring again. It transforms an internalised conflict into something as exhilarating as Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

Joe Hisaishi complements Miyazaki’s visuals with his summery score. J-pop aficionados should listen out for the opening and closing songs, written by folk music icon Yumi Arai. “Yuming” - as she is affectionately known - is sort of the Joni Mitchell of Japan (although her record sales are more comparable to Madonna’s) and her presence on the soundtrack underlines the film’s feminist aspect. The most proactive characters here are women, although men aren’t portrayed in a negative light and are every bit as caring (e.g. the shy baker who shows his affection by baking bread). In Miyazaki’s world the strong nurture the gentle, an idea perfectly illustrated in the scene where a large dog tenderly cares for Jiji. Junior aviator Tombo seems like a stand-in for Miyazaki himself. He’s a good-hearted daydreamer with his head in the clouds and needs a nice, sensible girl to temper his occasional foolishness. This poses an intriguing question: is Kiki the fantasy girlfriend Miyazaki wishes he had as a boy?

Yuming’s songs were removed for the Disney dub, which is otherwise an accomplished piece of work. Kirsten Dunst and Janeane Garofalo contribute exemplary vocals while the late Phil Hartman (Troy McClure in The Simpsons) delivers a more sarcastic take on Jiji the cat.

Koriko represents one of Miyazaki’s most visually appealing environments. A trip to Stockholm (Research for his aborted adaptation of Pippi Longstocking) provided the initial inspiration, but the animation wizard combines elements from his favourite cities - Naples, Paris, Lisbon, Amsterdam and San Francisco - with the light of the Mediterranean. He once joked that one side of Koriko “looked as if it bordered the Baltic Sea and the other side the Mediterranean.” More than an artistic pick and mix, this attempts to meld the best qualities of each city into one world; a world perfect for little girls to grow up witty and wise.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 5466 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: