Classic Anime ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ is a Whimsical Good Time

Julien Neaves, Editor

Plot: A 13-year-old witch named Kiki leaves her parents and her home with her talking cat Jiji and settles in a seaside town where she struggles to fit in and make friends.

Review: Fans of classic anime would be all too familiar with the legend that is Hayao Miyazaki and his legendary studio Studio Ghibli. He is the man behind such iconic anime films like My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away, and his name is equated with high quality Japanese animation. Kiki’s Delivery Service, which was written, directed, and produced by him, is one of his earlier films (1989) and is adapted from the 1985 novel of the same name by Eiko Kadono.

I’m gonna be, the very best, like no witch ever was!

Like most Studio Ghibli films the animation here is simply gorgeous. It is bright, energetic, colourful and fluid, like a story book come to life. But, unlike most films from the studio, Kiki’s Delivery Service is a much more laid-back affair. Sure the protagonist is a witch who flies on a broom and has a talking cat but that’s about all the magic there is. She has no villain to fight unless you count a snotty young girl or her struggles with own self-confidence. No, this one is a real slice-of-life story. It was my first time watching today and I was like, “Umm, when is something going to happen?” But I think I went in with a wrong expectation of what I was going to get. Instead of looking for high drama and adventure (there is a little excitement sprinkled here and there, especially in the climax) you just have to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful journey.

Kiki makes for a lovely hero with her big heart and caring ways. Her cat Jiji makes for a good counterpoint with his self-centered attitude and sardonic wit. He is easily my favourite character. There is also Osono, a kindly, pregnant bakery owner who takes in Kiki and hires her to do deliveries with her magic broom. There’s also Tombo, a young boy who dreams of flying himself via a machine he is making and who takes a fancy to Kiki.

Do you know Sabrina?

But Tombo and the other characters orbit around Kiki and it is really her story. Initially the set-up is for her to do witch training but we don’t actually see any of that. Instead we see her trying to manage relationships and find her place, which is kind of hard when you’re the only witch in town. The major conflict comes when she begins to lose her magic and with it her identity. It is a coming-of-age story about confidence and acceptance, both of others and yourself.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is the movie equivalent of a cool breeze and, while it may not be as epic as some other Studio Ghibli offerings, I can almost guarantee that it will put a smile on your face.

Editor Jules’s Score: 7.5 out of 10

So are you a fan of Kiki’s Delivery Service? Sound off in the comments. And we deliver some more Studio Ghibli reviews below:

The Magic of My Neighbor Totoro: 5 from Futaki Pt 1/5

Princess Mononoke is a timeless classic: 5 from Futaki Pt 3/5

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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.