HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Kiki's Delivery Service
HTS Overall Score:86
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is basically the antithesis of “Princess Mononoke” in many ways. “Mononoke” is a dark fantasy, with plenty of adult oriented action and set pieces. “Kiki”, on the other hand, is about as un supernatural as Miyazaki will ever allow himself to be, and is acceptable for everyone from toddlers up to full grown adults in terms of thematic and visual elements. You may ask yourself, “Just how un supernatural can the tale of a witch be”? “Kiki’s Delivery Service” focuses on one witch in particular, a young girl who has just reached 13 years of age and has to go out in to the world to practice and study on her own. A coming of age type of deal, where the witch must spread her wings and learn to fly on her own (in this case quite literally). Kiki doesn’t actually show any powers the entire movie, besides her ability to fly on a broom. Heading out into the unknown, Kiki, her black cat Jiji, and a little battery operated radio are going to find some town where no witches reside and practice her skills there.
Stumbling into a town, Kiki is sure that she’s found the perfect place to live and practice her arts. Being a young girl living in a small village, she’s unaccustomed to the cold shoulder that she gets upon arrival. Stumbling around, confused and disappointed, Kiki ends up being taken under the wing of a pregnant bakery owner by the name of Osono, and her husband. In exchange for room and board, the kind baker asks that Kiki help out around the shop, and even gives Kiki leeway to open up her own side business as a delivery girl. Using her flying broom Kiki is able to go around town in record time and perform deliveries that make people desire her services above others in the area.
In her travels, Kiki runs across several people who aid in the formation of her burgeoning adulthood. The young smitten boy, Tombo, who follows her around everywhere just wanting to be friends. The bratty rich kid who looks down her nose at everyone, and said rich kid’s elderly grandmother, who has a penchant for baking pies and shows incredible kindness to Kiki. The beauty of the movie is just watching Kiki interact with all of these people, watching her bonds grow and seeing the young witch turning into an adult, from a shy yet honest and naïve girl. Much of the time is spent with Kiki zipping around from rooftop to rooftop on her broom, letting the beauty of the town flood by underneath. Besides her flying we never actually see Kiki perform any magic, but for some reason you don’t even care. Watching Kiki grow and experience adventure after adventure in a world that she knew nothing about till a few short months back is about as engrossing as you could ask for and the lack of magic (shocking as that is for a Miyazaki film) doesn’t hamper the story in the slightest.
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is probably Miyazaki’s most human work, as it paints a tale of growth in a very natural light. Kiki has to learn about life, its harshness, its softness and all the in-betweens, and her relationships between the people she interacts with highlights all of them. Kiki comes to learn that not only are other people rather snotty at times, but she can be guilty of the same thing, prejudging young Tombo at first glance and only giving him a second chance after Osono gives her a nudge in the right direction. She also has a point in time where her flying powers start to fade after she starts to lose hope in people. She’s seen cruelty and rudeness from so many people that the gentle spark she had within her begins to fade, and in so doing, her powers fade as well. Only when she regains that will to persevere, once she regains her inner strength and her will to succeed no matter what other people may say or do, does her ability of flight return once again.
“Kiki” is one of my favorite Miyazaki films because of how intimate and sweet the tale is. You can’t help but love Kiki and her constant sense of wonder and excitement in the world. Jiji is pure gold and the talking cat is so Kawaii that my poor wife babbles incoherently with adoring sounds whenever he’s on screen (she has a weakness for furry animals). It’s by far the most grounded work that Miyazaki has done, giving us a taste of what the man’s outlook on humanity and life is. It’s not as whimsical as “Castle in the Sky” or as brutal as “Princess Mononoke”, but instead forms its own world that is surprisingly sweet and never dull, despite its soft pacing.
Rated G For General Audiences
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=33505[/img]Just like “Princess Mononoke”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is an enormous leap in quality over the 2010 2 disc DVD edition. In fact, I believe there’s more of a difference in this release vs. “Mononoke” and that was an impressive upgrade. The older DVD was always a bit flat, with some dull color replication and had some mild macroblocking. This release remedies those issues with ease, bringing an extremely rick color palette to life and filling the image with more detail than I’ve ever seen in the home video release. The movie has a nice filmic layer of grain over the image, but never rough or distracting, and the older pastel animation style looks beautiful as a result. It’s not overly glossy and pristine, but it has so much detail that I never noticed before that it is in a class all its own. There are no jaggies and the lines look smooth and clean with no signs of DNR to boot. The disc is free of macroblocking or other such digital anomalies and the black levels look superb. A truly fantastic looking image.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=33513[/img]Disney has given us the original 2.0 stereo tracks for the film in lossless DTS-HD MA, both in its native Japanese and with the same dub used for the 2010 release of the film. Ironically it uses dubtitles as well as mononoke, but instead of using the same translation as the English dub here, it uses a translation from a previous English dub that actually is a little closer to the original Japanese. It’s not a perfect literal translations that purists, such as myself, would have preferred, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction over “Princess Mononoke’s” subtitle options. Given that this is a 2.0 track there is no surrounds and no lfe to speak of, but the front 2 speakers do a very very good job at bringing this film to life. The dialogue is clean and free of any distortion and well balanced with rest of the effects. The track isn’t an overly dynamic one, but it’s full of fine detail and plenty of ambiance throughout. There’s some mild lfe baked into the 2.0 track and it gives some nice weight to the dialogue centric movie, without making itself a nuisance. A very good track that replicates the original theatrical experience to a T.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=33521[/img]• Introduction by John Lasseter
• Original Japanese Storyboards
• Creating Kiki's Delivery Service
• Kiki and Jiji
• Flying with Kiki and Beyond
• Collaborating with Miyazaki
• The Locations of Kiki
• Scoring Miyazaki
• Behind the Microphone
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is one of Miyazaki’s most grounded tales, weaving a story about growing up in with some of his trademark supernatural lore, and spitting out a truly breathtaking film. Soft in nature and bound to wind itself around your heart by the end of its hour and 43 minute runtime, it speaks volumes about the director when such a simplistic tale can leave such a large impact on your heart. The extras are all ported over from the 2 disc special edition from 2010 and the audio and video are rather large improvements over their SD counterparts, which makes this a must for animated fans (and this time young children are more than welcome).
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman / Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki
Written By: Hayao Miyazaki, Eiko Kadono (novel)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 2.0, Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, French DD 2.0
Studio: Disney/Studio Chibli
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 18th 2014
Buy Kiki's Delivery Service Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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