Kiki’s Delivery Service – Review (Spoiler Free)

Kiki's Delivery ServiceDelightfully charming – Kiki‘s strength lies in its childlike sense of wonder and joy.


This film doesn’t have a complicated plot, nor too much in the way of conflict really, and it doesn’t have the multiple layers of depth which many Ghibli films do, instead it succeeds with simplicity and warmth. Kiki is a young witch who must leave home in order to experience independent life in a new town. The adventures she goes on with Jiji her cat are not as overtly magical as say the children’s in My Neighbor Totoro, but somehow the film discovers the inner child within you, quietly infusing moments with the special sense of wonderment that’s particular to childhood.

The film does probe at questions about the clash between tradition and modernity, and although this is an interesting aspect of the film, its the coming of age tale and everything that is associated with it which is most engaging here. The story is Kiki’s development as she learns about herself and her powers, there are few big plot developments as such which results in a rather gentle film. I think it is this factor which makes a fair few people tend to criticise Kiki, without some harder hitting element underlying the film as in Totoro or Mononoke it can seem a little too light but I couldn’t disagree more. That light touch is what makes the film such a particularly enjoyable experience.

Kiki

As to the cast I shall here be referring to the American dub of the film as supposed to the original film. Kirsten Dunst does a good job as Kiki herself. She invests the character with the right level of childishness, never condescendingly portraying a child simplistically, but neither does she overplay the adult qualities to Kiki. It’s actually quite a hard balance to strike and she does it well here. The other cast member who needs to be mentioned is Phil Hartman as Jiji the cat. He is wonderful in the role of comic sidekick here, and makes Jiji just as memorable a character as his owner.

Kiki’s Delivery Service may not be Ghibli’s absolute brightest jewel, leave that title to be battled out between Spirited Away, Toroto and possibly Princess Mononoke, instead it is a warm and loving movie which leaves you with a smile across your face whether your age is ninety-four or just four. If you haven’t seen it yet and it has caught your interest then I thoroughly recommend that you take the time to check this one out! If you have seen it already well then why not see it again?

Summary:

What is the film’s greatest strength? The film’s ability to charm you with it’s ability to generate genuine childlike joy.

Its greatest weakness? This is one of those cases where I don’t really have a meaningful criticism to make.

Would I see it again? Absolutely, like many Ghibli films this can be re-watched endlessly.

Conjure up your thoughts in the comment box below!

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12 comments

  1. Adele · · Reply

    Haven’t heard of this, but sounds one to seek out. Thanks once again.

    1. No problem! I hope you like it.

  2. Great review! I love the Ghibli films I’ve seen and am still working through them. I love the sound of this one – not sure why I keep putting off watching it. A lighter tone is fine by me! : ) I don’t like the dubbed versions, though – I think they lose a lot of the magic & special feel when they’ve been dubbed…

    1. Thank you! There are a few I haven’t seen but I like you I’m working my way through them.
      I know what you mean, I on the whole much prefer subtitles, but on this occasion I only had access to the dub.
      I hope you enjoy Kiki’s when you see it!

  3. Saw this not too long ago and I also loved it. Like you say it is quite a simple tale without much depth, but in this case that’s not a bad thing at all. At times I was expecting something horrible to happen, but it never did. Just shows how other movies have set expectations of what is going to happen šŸ™‚

    1. Very good to hear! It’s a rather lovely film and that’s an interesting point that you make – other movies really do set us up for a tragic event which never comes here!
      Have you seen many other Ghibli films?

      1. Yeah, I have seen quite a few of them. Just checked on wikipedia and out of the 19 titles I have seen 13.

        1. Ah yeah that’s pretty much the same as me. I’m currently re-watching many of them and hoping to catch those ones which I have missed.
          I can’t believe just how many wonderful films Ghibli have managed to put out!

          1. Yeah, a lot of quality stuff. The ones I have not seen are Only Yesterday, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Tales from Earthsea (which I believe is pretty bad), From Up on Poppy Hill, The Wind Rises and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. So most of them are the newest ones. So what is your favorite and which do you think is best? My favorite probably is Totoro and the best Grave of the Fireflies.

          2. I haven’t seen Tales from Earthsea, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Pom Poko, Porco Rosso or Only Yesterday.
            Poppy Hill is alright but I wasn’t too much of a fan really. Wind Rises however is very good, even if not quite up to the quality of their best.

            Those are very good picks, and it’s hard to choose mine. I would say my favourite is Totoro and the best is Spirited Away. Although I have an awful lot of love for Princess Mononoke as well.

            Grave of the Fireflies is one hell of a film, I went in prepared but it still hit me hard.

          3. I know Princess Mononoke is widely loved, but I wasn’t a fan. Even rewatched a couple of years later and still felt the same about it. Spirited Away is awesome too, really want to give that one a rewatch now…same for Ponyo as that has some amazing visual moments….

          4. Oh that’s a shame about Mononoke, I just love many different elements of it, particularly the beautiful treatment of nature.

            Spirited was my introduction to Ghibli and it impressed me, however it wasn’t until I had seems several more and then returned to Spirited that I really appreciated it properly!

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