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Movie Review

Kiki's Delivery Service

Reviewed by: James Mar
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family
Genre:
Animation
Length:
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
1998
USA Release:
_____
Relevant Issues
Cover art for “Kiki's Delivery Service”
Featuring: voices of Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo, Matthew Lawrence, Debbie Reynolds
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Producer: Hayao Miyazaki
Distributor: _____

This charming family movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki and originally from Japan, is very entertaining and relaxing to watch. There is no profanity, VERY little violence (the only thing that resembles violence is when a flock of birds tried to protect their territory), no villains or anything like that.

The story could be described as a coming of age story, though there are many subtle themes such as confidence, “old fashion-ness” and nature. Young Kiki is a witch and, according to her mother witches, she must leave home at the age of 13 (by tradition). Her year away from home is for the purpose of independent self-training as she works on developing a single magical talent. Along with her black cat, JiJi, Kiki must settle down in a new city. And so our journey begins.

It turns out that Kiki tries to focus on flying as her talent. Besides the talent focus, Kiki deals with her new life at the bakery, a nice boy named Tombo who’s interested in aviation, and miscellaneous self-discovering interactions with other people.

What impressed me the most was the sincerity of the main character, Kiki. Here we have this really sweet girl that runs into some interesting situations and its entertaining to watch. The characterization of Kiki isn’t that of a brash or spunky or scheming or foul or selfish or of a grown-up contrived dialogue speaking kid. This kid’s got a lot of heart.

The Bible teaches us to be kind, generous, and loving towards our neighbors. There are multiple opportunities where one can discuss this topic (Kiki often helps her elders, etc.). However, we also see her obtuse reaction to a boy. And even though they make friends in the end, Kiki can’t be perfect.

From a Christian perspective, there is the downside of the presence of witchcraft. However, the witchcraft is pretty subdued. Early in the film, we see the mother mixing liquid in what looks like some chemist flasks and beakers and using a hand wave to make a ring of smoke come out. After that, there is only one more brief appearance of potion-mixing with flasks and beakers. It could just as well be a chemistry experiment. It does not have the feeling of any occult-related activities.

Of course there is the flying on a broomstick aspect, but it is pretty much treated like a talent. On video, there are two versions: the dub and sub. In the Disney dub, Kiki converses with an artist friend about finding the “Spirit” “inspiration” behind talents. However, if you watch the subtitled version, you will read that Kiki’s friend attributes her artistic and everyone else’s “Spirit” as a “power given by God”. While Christians are given gifts by which we should spread the gospel and build up the body of Christ, the bible is strong in commanding us to stay away from practicing witchcraft. In addition, I’ve also read some online script translations of the movie that turn the “God” part into “gods”. So there are minor rewording differences between the dub and sub.

Strictly because of the light witch element, I give “Kiki’s Delivery Service” an “Average; Not Too Offensive” rating to this otherwise clean animation.

All aspects of this film: from animation, to music, to story, to characters, are 5 star rate. My personal preference is for the subtitled version, but decide for yourself.


Viewer Comments
I loved it. It is such a good movie. I don’t think anything is very bad. Kiki’s Delivery Sevice is my favorite movie. I love Japanese animation like “Totoro”. I think it it the best! I think everybody would love it.
—Katie, age 12
This film transcends every genre label that could possibly be applied it—children’s film, animated film, anime—a classic. A beautifully rendered glimpse of a fantastic European city, Truly adolescent characters—everything that’s wonderful about film can be found here in this Japanese cartoon about a thirteen year old broom-flying witch. Thinking of the film brings tears to my eyes. Try to see both the serviceable American version and the original Japanese edition.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Joe Foster, age 21