Kiki's Delivery Service

UK distributor: Optimum Asia

BBFC Certificate: PG

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):

Running Time: 104 mins (approx.)

Audio Options: English 2.0, Japanese 2.0

Subtitles: English

Reviewer:  Tom (Webmaster)


One of the latest release in the Optimum Asia Studio Ghibli Collection, Kiki's Delivery Service is another film by the acclaimed Hayao Miyazaki which has been long overdue a DVD release to do this great title justice. 

Kiki's Delivery Service opens with very excited heroine Kiki leaving home at just 13 to begin a year long 'rites of passage' in a step to becoming a fully-fledged witch.  The whole village shows up to say goodbye before Kiki takes off on her broom, they are all sad to see her go and she is clearly leaving a lot behind for the years training.  For the training Kiki must find a town, take up residence and determine exactly what her strongest ability is before returning home.  As soon as Kiki arrives in her chosen town however, it is clear that the locals are not unlike cityfolk in that they do not take to strangers easily.  Kiki is lucky when a local baker's shop takes her in and provides her with lodging and food, but Kiki soon realises that she must earn her own way if she is to become a true witch.  Kiki therefore uses her best ability - flying - to set up a delivery service for the town in which she can zoom to the destination in no time on her broom.  It will be hard work but Kiki is determined to make it a success. 

If you are expecting this witch's tale to be of the Harry Potter mould with evil wizards and goblins then worry not.  Despite the premise of Kiki, the only powers seen are flying as the definition of a witch in this film is more of chemist really - mixing potions for the good of people (this is seen with Kiki's mother at the beginning).  Kiki actually contains the least fantasy of any of Miyazaki's films - there are no radish spirits, grinning feline transport or Italian pigs here.  Instead Kiki is character driven as there is little plot as such, rather numerous events which merely serve to broaden Kiki's rites of passage. 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?  Sorry. 

Watching the character Kiki is a joy throughout the film as Miyazaki has succeeded in creating what is possibly the most likeable character ever.  You cannot help but smile at Kiki's good nature from start to finish as Kiki really represents a person that everyone should aspire to be.  This might sound corny, but the above statement is justified when you see how Kiki reacts when things do not go her way or she disagrees with another's point of view.  When faced with a challenge she does not blame others or argue with the unpleasant, she applies herself to overcome the situation.  Although she naturally loses faith in her abilities during the film, Kiki does not snap at others instead graciously accepting help from others.  Her faith in people is truly heart-warming. 

The other characters in the film are equally excellent, notably Kiki's pet cat Jiji which has the ability to talk.  The pair form what is essentially a 'straight man, stupid man' combination and play off each other brilliantly with sarcastic quips while all the time maintaining affection for each other.  The excitable Tombo also provides further comedy with his inventions, as does the ever-happy baker Osono, both providing Kiki with the moral support that she needs for her delivery service. 

Kiki leaves the Drawn Together house....

Miyazaki's other great achievement with Kiki is surely the lavishly-detailed town that he has created.  Clearly inspired by his visits to Europe the attention to detail shown through the winding streets, alleys and beautiful house is staggering.  Witness the geographical wonder when Kiki swoops high above the town during the film, a marvellous testament to Miyazaki's wonderful animation and creative ability.  Only his later work Spirited Away rivals the clear love he has put into creating the town in Kiki.  The attention paid to actual is truly astonishing.

The music of Kiki easily matches the standard of the animation with an excellent whimsical score from Joe Hisaishi which really captures the feel of the town with a child-like bolero sound.  Throughout the film the score never detracts from what is happening on the screen, even if nothing is happening amazingly as Hisaishi manages to capture the feel so well that the music just blends in with the animation.  The opening and ending themes feature a more upbeat feel with their lyrical melodies, the opening capturing Kiki's excitement at the beginning with the ending capturing a more steady 'settling down' feel.  Perfect. 

For many years Kiki has been my most favourite film of all time and watching it again for this review as only reinforced that.  Repeated viewing only serve to show how truly marvellous this film is and it always feels fresh and original as there is nothing like it. 


As with previous titles in the Studio Ghibli Collection, fully alterative angle storyboards are included which allow you to watch the entire film with storyboards and dialogue.  Also featured is the extra 'Ursula's Painting' which is a kind of music video, it features a painting made by Kiki's artist friend in the film.  The video pans around this painting while playing to part of the score. 

Other extras include the original Japanese trailers and TV spots for the film which make interesting viewing but do grate as they are all pretty much the same.  There is a trailer reel for the other titles featured in the Studio Ghibli Collection as well. 


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