Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
One of (what I consider) the five great classics from Studio Ghibli was actually the first to be released in the U.S. under a partnership with Walt Disney Studios. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a must see introductory movie for people of all ages to watch so if you haven’t yet seen this, go out and grab it today.
What I find so appealing about the Ghibli approach to movies is the way they weave a good story around exceptional artwork and animation to create a world filled with vivid color and wondrous visual entertainment in even the most normal of circumstances. A brief conversation between two characters my be little more than simple dialogue but the added movement and attention paid to perspective and color bring scenes alive to the eye, a true living picture experience. This shows that you can take an average story and make it a great adaptation with professionals devoting themselves to a polished production.
The story is based around a year in the life of the main character, Kiki, (Japanese voice of Minami Takayama, English dubbed voice of Kirsten Dunst) who leaves her home for a year – as is tradition for a witch of 13 years – to live on her own. She ends up in the port town of Koriko where she procures a job delivery bakery goods, a feat made easier by her ability to fly on a broom. Kiki and her pet cat, Jiji (Japanese voice of Rei Sakuma, English dubbed voice of Phil Hartman) make friends and tries to adjust to life in the hustle and bustle of this new town. Her personal insecurities cause her witch powers to abandon her and somehow the young girl must find a way to get her confidence and her ability to fly, back.
It’s easy to see how this movie won so many awards and helped to set a standard for the caliber of work Studio Ghibli would continue to give us for years to come. The attention to color and detail is what will bring yo back to watch this time and time again. There are some subtle differences between the Japanese and English release of the movie and it has undergone a number or re-releases but whatever version you are able to obtain I guarantee you satisfaction from this fine film.