How’s this for a cold open: Kiki’s Delivery Service has an astounding 97% on the good old Rotten Tomatoes. It has one rotten review that has it at a 2/4. This one negative review is from certainly an interesting critic; look no further than their 2016 Best & Worst Films. The same year that: Zootopia, Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Secret Life of Pets, The Red Turtle, Your Name, A Silent Voice, and In This Corner of the World… your favorite animated movie was FINDING DORY?!?!?!  Not only that but it’s the 3rd best film of the year? I hate implying that someone has bad taste or that there’s an objectively right/wrong opinion because honestly you can like whatever you like…. BUT FINDING DORY?!?! I seriously think you should have your head examined if you think Finding Dory is top 3 in anything. I don’t even think it’s in the top 3 in the Finding Nemo franchise and there’s only two of them. You might be thinking that it’s one of the best films starring Ellen DeGeneres but I’m a need you to never disrespect Mr. Wrong and the Coneheads again.

I guess that’s the problem when you put as much effort into what you call a “review” as I did into a nonsensical tangent paragraph and slap a random number at the end… you lack consistency. Quite frankly, I start to question your merits as a legitimate critic when you give something like Kiki’s Delivery Service the same score as Aladdin. I’m sorry I misread my script, when you give it the same score as Aladdin and the King of Thieves….

The Bottom Line:

A simple tale full of well-aged charm; Kiki delivers the wholesome goods you’ve come to know from Ghibli or will learn to love for the first time.

Kiki the adolescent witch travels to a new town and endures the growing pains of claiming independence through her occupation as an air delivery service.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is an uncanny film, one that made me feel nostalgic for it, despite the fact that I had not seen it prior. I miss a time before film school and film critics taught everyone that anything that doesn’t follow The Hero’s Journey is doing it wrong. That a film didn’t have to be about saving the world from impeding doom but could just be a relaxing viewing experience of following a charming protagonist and how they learn from overcoming minor inconveniences. I missed seeing 2D animation on the big screen, especially one as whimsical as following Kiki through her dynamic flight patterns. I think the aspect that really made an impact was that I missed hearing all of these talent voices. Often the unsung heroes, I know they don’t fill the seats as Tom Holland playing animated Tom Holland or The Rock but I genuinely missed getting to hear the familiar voices of Kath Soucie, Jeff Bennett, Tress MacNeille, and especially the late Debbie Reynolds among many others was an utter joy.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is really just a thinly veiled love-letter to this setting of an ocean-side city. The film certainly uses it’s scenic location to the fullest extent of exploration that it really feels like the storyboards were composited from travel brochures. At points it feels that there could have been some deviation to contrast locations from one another, but the overall homogeneous of setting comes with a familiarity and eventual coziness to the small peninsula town.

My nostalgic lamenting and love-letter accusations actually fit the film well, as one of the major themes is to respect and value things of the past or beyond their face value. As a more mature audience member I can understand the moral implications of scenes but there’s something commendable about how Miyazaki goes about not necessarily preaching but crafting scenes that younger audiences will internalize the messages. Kiki never goes around berating these ungrateful brats who don’t seem to appreciate the gifts their family had sent out to them, but by seeing the genuine and caring person the sender is the audience hopefully recognizes to be more grateful. There’s plenty of instances where newer isn’t always better, such as when Kiki initially takes her mother’s broom over her newly constructed one, and a fire-place oven being used after the failure of an electrical oven. The artifacts of old may become obsolete, but that might not take away their inherent value. We may gawk and awe at the big city that the other snooty Judy witch goes to, but that doesn’t take away the quaint allure of this humble town. The way the aviator club is inspired by early air travel prototypes, there is still something to learn or even cherish from even the most rudimentary of constructions.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is this adorable journey of a young girl proving her independence, but beneath the surface Kiki’s journey is an introspective piece from the author. Kiki’s Delivery Service says a lot about the creative process and even assuming a career in a broader sense. Kiki reflects fearing the effects of mixing work with pleasure and the possibility of witnessing the creative magic disappear. One could draw parallels between Kiki’s status as a witch to Miyazaki as a writer/director and how they address the label. Kiki seems to have some degree of public anxiety stemming from the clothes and presentation of being a witch. Kiki also confesses at one point not enjoying the act of taking flight as much now that it is  her job. Kiki’s non-traditional story structure stems from the conceit of the film being that it’s essentially an allegory for entering the workforce and how diligence and endurance ultimately ends in a rewarding experience.

That’s how I look a Kiki’s Delivery Service, a testament to an older generation that might not be the most treasured of gifts but a genuine and ultimately rewarding gift.  The music throughout is an endearing and uplifting track that gives the film an appropriately fun texture. Jiji steals the show as the sarcastic wisecracking black cat – I can’t tell if that stems from everyone in my theater obviously having seen the film before and laughing at every time he spoke…. Or if I was just enamored with an animal sidekick that actually has an enjoyable personality and isn’t just for marketing material of a cute animal/thing. Kiki lacks much stakes or tension but the charming elements make you want to grab your broomstick and take to the skies alongside her, and to me that makes for one enjoyable ride.

Production company: Studio Ghibli, Kiki’s Delivery Service Production Committee

Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Matthew Lawrence, Debbie Reynolds

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Story by: Eiko Kadono

Written by: Jack Fletcher, John Semper, Hayao Miyazaki

Music by: Joe Hisaishi

Cinematography by: Shigeo Sugimura

Film Editing by: Takeshi Seyama

Rated G, 103 minutes

16 thoughts on “Kiki’s Delivery Service – A Taste of Something Familiar

  1. Thanks to everyone who voted in my Twitter poll if you voted for Kiki – thank you it was a swell time and I hope you’re happy. If you voted for one of the other options… I might still go see them I’m still deciding. I hope nobody is angry that I left NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND off the poll on accident I don’t think I was big into it as the other options and it just slipped my mind when I went to Twitter…oopsie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That was a great review for a classic Ghibli film. Sure, it may not be my favorite from that studio, but it still holds up.

    When I read the intro, I facepalmed about that person who gave Kiki a negative review if they think Finding Dory was one of the best animated films in 2016. Wow, just wow. Yeah, that’s a moment where I personally would question their tastes in movies. It’s almost like bashing a movie for being too commercial, but praising a major Hollywood blockbuster. Or like a reviewer saying they don’t like Oscar Bait movies, yet give two thumbs up to an A24 flick. Maybe slagging off action movies, yet liking everything Marvel has to offer. Or saying Anastasia is a Don Bluth movie that’s a Disney ripoff when they claim to be a fan of…You get the point now! Seriously, there are some bloggers and professional reviewers where I seriously don’t get the logic in their tastes at all. Hopefully, I try to be consistent as to why or why I don’t like certain films.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thanks I’m glad the review was appreciated despite being rather simple. Really not a lot within Kiki to let out some rambunctious energy with so the opening was hopefully a fun little tangent. Finding Dory was not just the best animated movie as it was 3rd only to Manchester by the Sea and Gleason for 2016 flicks. I hope nobody reads this and actually really likes Dory and gets offended. I think the obvious degree of hyperbolic stances make it clear enough, if someone likes Dory that’s fine I mostly took issue with there being little to no explanation as to why that of all movies is so highly regarded.

      “This absolutely delightful Finding Nemo followup bests its predecessor in every way imaginable, and boasts a scene-stealing periphery character named Gerald that doesn’t have a single word of dialogue and yet is more memorable than 95% of film protagonists.”

      That was their full given rational to why Dory is the 3rd best movie of all of 2016, because they liked a meme in the movie. One that I completely forgot about, I’m sure you forgot about, and I feel safe in saying that nobody remembers Gerald.

      I just think it’s funny how there’s these “film critic societies” that I looked at recently and how I wouldn’t be eligible for membership because I have not reviewed enough feature length playing in theater films… because “real” film criticism is sneezing out a paragraph and a star rating. Not like I would want to pay a membership fee to earn a superficial title with an organization that still wouldn’t acknowledge me and gives you no real benefits outside of paying for some gilded prestige.

      The film critic world is kind of a wild one, not that I’m one to judge. Then again, that is kind of what I do around here. I think you’re pretty consistent or at least well able to articulate why you feel the way you do. Hopefully I’m not too bad in that regard either.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome. It was simple, but to the point with your own writing style of course.

        Wow, those were the other films? I haven’t seen them, but I heard good things about them. That is such a weird explanation and I didn’t even know about that Gerald meme or whatever.

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who have noticed that. Both of us have written better reviews than a lot of those aforementioned “societies” on the internet.

        It truly is and those critic circles can be bizarre. Thank you and you’re good in that regard, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. Yeah Manchester by the Sea at least Is a good film so they’re not entirely awful it’s just they never explain themselves to a reasonable degree that their absurd hot takes just baffle me.

        Gerald is a bizarre off kilter joke where there’s this one seal character who mentally deficient and he gets bullied by the other characters but it’s okay because he’s a weirdo with a weirdo mono-brow and a weirdo face. I don’t know usually I would consider the biggest redeeming quality of a film to be a non-substance running gag is kind of a back-handed compliment.

        Haha thank you, the film critic cults are just odd to me. I would understand if I didn’t qualify for other reasons of just not fitting the branding or prestige but its you have to have x amount of reviews and the benefits is you pay us to not even have us acknowledge you but that you can claim yourself that you’re apart of a coalition like who, why?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You’re welcome. I may check out Manchester By the Sea in the future. That is strange and they should give a better explanation for sure.

        I wasn’t aware of that gag, but I find that to be confusing at best and even potentially offensive if it involves mental issues. Sounds like a backhanded compliment.

        No problem, K. Haha! Those reasons certainly are questionable. Cults could be a good way to describe it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t have as much of an attachment to Kiki because of the crazy amount of times I’ve watched it on the band bus in highschool, but it is a solid and fun film with so much heart to it and it feel somewhat realistic because Kiki is a very believable character. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree with you, I think I saw someone in my theater wearing a long dark blue dress and the red bow. I missed out on having that nostalgic connection with it but I think there’s something undeniably pleasant about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a film that I’ve only come to appreciate in recent years. When I first watched it as a teen, I found it to be boring and for a long time it was one of my least favourite Ghibli movies, but when I revisited it as an adult I found myself really enjoying it. I’m able to connect with Kiki’s character journey a lot more now and I’m glad that I gave the film a second chance, because it’s a truly great movie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I see what you’re saying I’m sort of in the middle because I do think it’s kinda slow and uneventful but It’s unabashedly its own thing and I see the sort of adulthood journey relating more now that we have adult-ed ourselves. I’m glad you liked it.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I am not the biggest Ghibili fan, for some reason it’s not something I can watch alone. Kiki however is one I quite liked. Spirited Away being the other I did really like. Kiki has a simpleness in it where some Ghibli films can feel pretentious or “preachy” to me. Not in your face but on like a tone where a priest reads the bible. I don’t know.. artificially wholesome maybe. I can’t explain. Anyway I really did like Kiki , which is strange because I do not care for stuff like Totoro a whole lot. Maybe I should rewatch a few.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A little surprising you’re not a fan of Totoro. I can see sort of the prestige and moralistic approach to be off-putting to a degree, I understand what you’re getting at despite not having seen much of Ghibli. Thanks for stopping by.


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