Hayao Miyazaki’s “Kiki's Delivery Service” is a heartfelt and inspiring movie.
Released by Studio Ghibli in 1989, it was based on Eiko Kadono's novel of the same title. It tells the story of a young witch having difficulty with stepping into adulthood and finding her own way forward, both in finding a place to live and finding a way to live life as a whole. While it is near impossible to create a ranking list of Miyazaki’s movies, Kiki would have to be one of the top 3 most stunning Ghibli movies for the visuals alone. There is no argument - the level of the details in every scene and the backgrounds is nothing short of astonishing.
The story is set in Kiki's family house in a lovely, small village. The time has come for Kiki to leave home and find out what her life as a witch could be. While it sounds like quite an adventure, it is no surprise to anyone that soon Kiki will have to deal with life’s many obstacles, some more serious than the others. For starters, moving into a big city and looking for a place to stay. Figuring out what to do for a living. Getting through lack of motivation and trying to believe in herself again.
“Kiki's Delivery Service” is a movie that will speak to anyone and everyone, especially at this basic level and station in life.
Few people wouldn't be anxious about stepping into adulthood and facing living on their own, and Kiki's story is very uplifting in this manner. Yoshifumi Kondō's Whisper of the Heart from 1995 (also released by Ghibli) touches similar problems, using different settings and storylines.
Struggling to become independent is only one of many matters with which viewers can relate. Isolation, vulnerability, seeking acceptance, losing and regaining inspiration are a just a few of them.
The film also addresses finding balance between tradition and progress, easily noticeable through the main character's profession. Could there be any more severe dichotomy than a witch with a black cat and a broom trying to fit into the modern world?
The supporting characters, typically for Miyazaki, are wonderfully detailed and lively. Kiki's best friend, cat Jiji, bakers Osono and Fukuo, geeky Tombo, and painter Ursula - they all play an important role in this story, while still having their own interests, and are well developed.
As usual, the soundtrack was composed by Joe Hisaishi, whose senses once again didn't disappoint, underlining the nostalgic atmosphere and bringing up even the most subtle nuances.
In the end, Kiki's Delivery Service shows a great care for explaining that seemingly hopeless situations can be resolved, and it's only a matter of time and patience in sorting any difficulties out. This movie is uplifting, heart-warming and simply lovely. Definitely a recommended watch.