Kiki’s Delivery Service Review

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Kiki’s Delivery Service was a huge success when it originally premiered in 1989 in Japan. Since then it has continued that success in western theaters, VHS, and DVD format. As Disney moves to release the Ghibli collection on Blu-ray format, we are reintroduced to this 25-year-old classic and questioning if it can once again capture our hearts.

Story
As the thirteen-year-old Kiki reaches the age when witches traditionally start their training, she sets out on her own taking only her broomstick, a bag, and her black cat Jiji. Though unlike most witches, she doesn’t quite have a particular skill to use when she reaches her new home and hasn’t had much time to train with her mother.

When she settles down in the port city of Koriko, she quickly discovers that the bustling city isn’t completely fond of a witch and she’s quickly discouraged. After she bumps into the owner of a bakery and helps her bring a left-behind pacifier to a customer, she’s given a place to stay and a new hope for her new home.

Now delivering as Kiki’s Flying Delivery Service, she gradually learns that her only skill in flying can be a great way for her to start her own business. Even if she’s faced with the ups and downs of the city of Koriko.

kikisdeliveryservicebluray08Kiki’s Delivery Service is a fine example of a well paced movie. With a solid introduction, base work, set up, and conclusion in a nicely packaged form. It hits all of the points it sets out to hit and sends you home with no further questions needing answered. Sure you’ll want to see more of Kiki and her adventures, but the story is wrapped up nicely.

Bundled up in that nice wrap is a solid story of a girl learning about life and struggles. It never gets too heavy, but heavy enough to produce some good drama and suspense. More importantly is the amount of heart that it has. Making you feel for Kiki, and even make you growl at those that hurt her.

Kiki herself is a lovable protagonist. A character that you can get behind and cheer for. Surrounding her is Osono, who ends up being the replacement mother figure for Kiki and has a joyful laugh to bring a smile upon your face. Jiji, Kiki’s black cat, is quite the character and ends up being a bit of the comedy relief and a kikisdeliveryservicebluray15solid side-kick for Kiki. Finally Tombo, while off-putting at first, ends up being a tool for Kiki’s development overall.

As with all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, Kiki’s delivery service is filled with obvious messages and themes that are sprinkled about it.  Almost like a children’s book that is simple and at the same time direct.  As Kiki goes on her training she learns of acceptance, traditions, getting a job, feeding herself, managing money, and even facing self-doubt and struggling with what is important to herself.

Animation
Produced during the days of sweat, blood, and tears hand drawn animation, Kiki’s Delivery Service shows from beginning to end a great deal of beautiful work. As can only be expected from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Each frame is a single work of art, pieced together to create a masterpiece of a film.  It’s a true kikisdeliveryservicebluray17testimony to their hard work and is something I truly miss from the golden days of Japanese animation (as well as old Disney Films).

The attention to detail is seen throughout the environments and individual characters in how they move and interact. However it’s in the allowed chaos that you see where Kiki’s Delivery Service differs from traditional films and television series. It’s the groceries falling over as she gets her map in a hurry, it’s the bubblegum overflowing in Kiki’s hands as her friend offers some, and even the misstep when Kiki rushes up the stairs. It’s odd, but it is in fact, “the little things that matter.”

Blu-ray Quality
It’s important to note the quality of this new release. Is it worth the upgrade to the new format, or does it degrade? Having only seen the original Fullscreen VHS release, it was like watching the show all over again when I fired up the Blu-ray kikisdeliveryservicebluray21version.  It’s beautiful in widescreen, the colors are perfect and not overly saturated or dark, and there’s no noticeable defects.  It was a pleasurable ride from beginning to end, seemingly meant for the HD era.

Verdict
There’s no surprise here that Kiki’s Delivery Service gets a full standing ovation when it comes to a recommendation.  It’s a testimony to classic works of art in old hand drawn animation.  Unfortunately, something we will never see again.  Not only that, but it’s one of Hayao Miyazaki’s greatest works, even if it’s not one of his most known.  It’s a heartwarming, smile inducing, feel-good story.  It was a treasure when I viewed it as a young lad, and it is a treasure in my adulthood.  No matter the age, Kiki’s Delivery Service is a must watch for anyone.  Anime fan or not.

THUMBS UP!

REVIEW VERDICT:
Classic, Work of Art

Goods:

  • Beautiful, hand-drawn animation
  • Smile-inducing and heartwarming
  • Perfect storytelling
  • Light-hearted, but also impactful

Bads:

  • None
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.