Trying to fall in love with film again.

Kiki's Delivery Service is a movie I needed to watch.

Story 

Kiki's Delivery Service tells the story of a young witch named Kiki who leaves her hometown to venture out on her own. She ends up in a new town and uses her flying abilities to start a delivery service. 

The story is one about an individual finding themselves. At the beginning of the movie, Kiki is itching to leave her hometown and build her own life. It's a story that many of us can relate to as we are all looking for our place in the world. 

The simplicity of the story is one of the many things that made me love this movie as much as I do. Even though the plot is easy to follow,  there are so many feelings and messages when you take a closer look at the story. 

Voice Acting 

Even though I typically watch these movies in Japanese I always make a point to see the cast that dubbed the movie in English. And I found a lot of recognizable names like Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Matthew Lawrence, and Debbie Reynolds.

However, a lot goes to the Japanese voice actors. They really pull you into the world and give it life. Even the extras and background characters all feel like a complete package.  And their performances make this world one that you would want to visit. Seeing as we spend a lot of time with Kiki, you heard a lot of Minami Takayama's voice and I love how it transforms to perfectly convey Kik's emotions without losing touch with the character that we have grown to love.

Another performance I want to highlight is Rei Sakuma who plays Jiji, Kiki's cat. I wanted to point it out and compare it with Phil Hartman's dub. While I was writing this review, I was reading about the movie and found out that the two actors voiced Jiji very differently. Rei Sakuma's being more self-aware and Phil Hartman's being more sarcastic. I actually went back to listen to the two side-by-side and I can actually hear the difference.

Writing/Direction 

While watching Kiki's Delivery Service, one of the themes I noticed was independence and one's need for it. And when I was doing the research for this review, I found that Miyazaki wanted the movie to portray the gulf between independence and reliance in teenage Japanese girls. In the movie, you see Kiki's desire to be independent while also relying on others in the community. She moves to a new town and has to take care of herself from finding somewhere to live to finding a job. 

And throughout the movie, you see Kiki grow and mature. She works through her conflicts and self-doubts and emerges at the end a more confident, self-assured person.

This film also addresses something very important, burnout and the importance of taking a break, something that is more evident and important to me as I grow older. When Kiki's powers begin to grow weaker, Ursula and Osono remind her to rest. And Ursula goes into detail about her artist block and how she needs to step away and look at things with a fresh perspective. A lesson that I am still struggling with.



Animation

Me mentioning how good the animation in a Studio Ghibli might seem redundant seeing as I do it in every single review, but I am truly amazed by each movie that I watch. This movie takes place in the sky and near the water and because of that, the colour I associate with this movie is blue. From vibrant hues to cooler shades, it's a comforting colour. 

One thing I've noticed about Studio Ghibli's movie is how the main characters stand out while simultaneously blend into their surroundings. Kiki is the only character in the movie who wears black which means you always notice her first when she is on screen and it solidifies her outsider status in the town, but she fits into the general aesthetic of the movie. 

Something else that caught my eye much like in Ponyo is the fluidity of the animation,  Kiki spends a lot of the movie flying and the movie does a fantastic job of presenting real-world physics in an animated movie. Kiki feels and looks like she is flying. You see it in the way her hair and clothes move.


Score/Soundtrack 

Joe Hisaishi is truly a master of his craft. The score in this movie feels familiar while bringing in something completely different and unique to the world of this movie. I am going to borrow a quote from my Spirited Away review that perfectly fits here.

The music is embedded into the story and each score functions to not only propel the story and build the world but also serves as a way to introduce emotion to not just you but the characters themselves.
I would say that the score in this movie is more on the whimsical side than the emotional one and I think that has to do with the lighthearted nature of the movie, but it's a perfect companion to the stunning animation.

Overall Thoughts

What I thought was a simple and straightforward movie about a witch who delivers things turned out to be a movie about finding yourself and believing in your own abilities. And like the title of this review suggests, it's a message I needed to hear. It's also appropriate for the time. 

Without going into too much detail, 2021 wasn't a great year for me. Apart from struggles regarding school and my mental health, I also faced the worst content burnout that I had ever experienced. I couldn't bring myself to review movies and at one point couldn't even bring myself to watch them. And that made me feel like I was letting everyone down, both here and on my Instagram but seeing as we are in a new year, I knew that I wanted to get back to reviewing and talking about movies because it is something that brings me a lot of joy. 

Kiki goes through a similar struggle in the movie where she loses touch with her magic and begins to doubt herself but regains her confidence and overcomes her challenges. Something that I'm going to do.

I don't know the definitive ranking of the Studio Ghibli movies I have watched yet but this one is definitely going towards the top. The animation, message and heartwarming cast of characters make this movie worth watching again and again.

Comments