Monday, November 11, 2013

Anime Review: Kiki's Delivery Service

KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE: A light-hearted story with heavy connotations

As a form of initiation, young witches are tasked to leave their homes and survive in a far-off land for a year. Kiki has finally come to age, and now she goes on a journey with her best friend Jiji, a talking cat. She arrives at Koriko, a port city, where she decides to settle. In order to make a living, she begins a delivery service with the local bakery. There, she exploits her witch powers to accomplish anything she wants, but it turns out that not everything will be as easy as she thought.

Kiki’s Delivery Service doesn’t tackle controversial subjects such as Princess Mononoke’s environmentalism or Wolf Children Ame and Yuki’s social belongingness. It’s a very light-hearted watch. However, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t teach us anything. It talks about the fine line that divides independence and reliance among the youth. What I really like about this theme is the fact that it doesn’t force itself to the viewers. There are no blatant elements that shout ‘symbolism’ in our faces.

The first half, or perhaps more than the first half, of the film is dedicated to Kiki’s errands as a delivery girl. There are minor conflicts in her deliveries here and there, some of them are even comical, and that makes the film even more entertaining and light-hearted. It does get heavy in the last third of the film or so, wherein Kiki loses her witch powers because of her self-doubts. From there, the film plays with a lot of coming of age concepts. Despite the heaviness of these plot elements, the film somehow manages to give a light-hearted impression that it’s almost a juxtaposition.

From the last paragraph, it’s easy to discern that this anime has the kind of story that has no direct goal. The protagonist doesn’t need to save her country from total destruction, or save her family from a group or bandits, or whatever. The story just focuses on the adventures of Kiki and her cat, and her interactions with the people around her. And since there is no overall goal, some sequences just seem pointless and give the impression that the story isn’t going anywhere.

I’m not saying that her random adventures as a delivery girl are pointless. I’m just saying that the lack of an overall goal tends to be problematic, because it doesn’t give the viewers sufficient attachment to the story. They will have the tendency to be disengaged, especially those that don’t have long attention spans such as children.

However, the story does pick up when a goal has finally been introduced in the later parts of the film, wherein Kiki tries to regain her witch powers.

As for the characters, they are generally a lively bunch, but there is enough contrast among them that counterbalance the liveliness. We have Jiji the grumpy cat to counter Kiki’s fun personality, the ungrateful granddaughter to counter Tombo’s naivety and seeming innocence, and the painter Ursula has opened Kiki to great character development.

The characters of Kiki's Delivery Service

The music is also successful on magnifying the overall light-hearted impression of the film, but I think it’s nothing groundbreaking -- just enough to deliver the proper emotions. The art is actually pretty detailed in terms of background. And the animation is beautiful, particularly in the sequences wherein Kiki is in her flying broom.

Overall, Kiki’s Delivery Service is an enjoyable anime film from Hayao Miyazaki, not that that’s not yet expected for a Studio Ghibli film. It is very light-hearted, but has good lessons for those who are coming of age. But as I said, it does have the tendency to wander around. But who doesn’t want to see Kiki delivering stuff in her flying broom?


  1. Kiki's Delivery Service is on my list of anime movies I eventually need to watch. From your review, the movie sounds like I will enjoy it for the most part. Great review!


    1. Yeah it's really good. I think you'll enjoy it! Thanks for always commenting! It's always nice to know that my posts are appreciated.