on April 19, 2013
I purchased this DVD because I finally wore out my VHS copy. I LOVED this movie as a kid and still do today. Unfortunately, this edition leaves out A LOT of Gigi's (Kiki's cat) script. I got 30 min in and had to turn it off I was so disappointed. It is fine if you have never seen the movie before. Since I have seen it so many times, this issues really bothered me. I ended up purchasing an old version of the movie; 2003 I believe.
on April 12, 2004
Face it: any kids' video you buy will be watched over and over, mostly in your presence. You want to choose carefully, since you will be spending so much quality time with this video. Kiki's Delivery Service won't disappoint you. This sweet, gentle movie is a coming-of-age story about Kiki, a 13-year-old witch-in-training. As part of said training, she is required to spend a year away from home practicing her craft. Her subsequent adventures are the subject of this endearing film by Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki. The animation is splendid, the casting mostly inspired (Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Debbie Reynolds, and even the late Phil Hartman as the voice of Kiki's companion cat). Unlike the standard Disney fare, this movie has no violence, no sex, no profanity, and not even a dysfunctional family.
The themes of Kiki's Delivery Service are noble ones. There are far worse ways to spend a few hours (or a few dozen) than watching a young girl make friends and gain self-confidence, especially one as appealing as Kiki. Buy yourself an extra copy of this video. When you wear the first one out watching it by yourself, you'll need the spare to placate the kids.
Kiki's Delivery Service was the very first Studio Ghibli movie ever licensed and distributed by Disney and it is still considered by many of us to be one of the very best family movies that has ever been made! So it is nice to see it re-issued yet again in a bluray edition but there is one little caveat that I will get to later.
The story is simple and sweet and utterly charming. Set in a mid-50's type world of black and white TV's, trams and automobiles. It's a world in which witches are completely normal (though rather rare) and on their 13th birthdays; they have to venture out into the world to advance their training and decide how they will use their gifts of magic. And so our plucky heroine ends up in a small city by the sea that hasn't seen young witches in decades. It's quite a revelation for both sides!
It's an utterly wonderful tale of a young girl passing from childhood into adulthood; overcoming her own fears and doubts and of an absolutely wonderful supporting cast from the boy with a crush on her to the baker and his wife who offer her a place to stay. Not to mention the city folk having to come to terms with a young flying witch in their midst!
In fact that's one of the very best parts of this movie; there's really no superhero's or villains in the entire movie. Just ordinary folk going about their ordinary lives. Some are friendly, some are neutral while others may be a little arrogant or even a little rude or greedy but there's nobody who's really bad. And unlike a lot of movies, family or otherwise; there's no villainous plot and no violent ending. Just a wonderful uplifting movie that teaches you don't have to settle things with force and that girls don't always have to depend on a boy to protect them. Unless of course they want him to! It's a perfect family movie especially if you have young girls. (Though boys will love it too.)
Animation is first rate as always and is even better on this Blu Ray bringing out every nuance of the movie's original release. (Though the DVD is pretty damn good as well.) Plus there's a nice little collection of extras (non of which is overly long) that have been carried over from the previous DVD release and the stereo pro-logic track has been bumped up to a DTS-HD 2.0 for the English, Japanese and French tracks. Not that I noticed much difference since the original 1989 film had a very simple audio track.
However, here is where that little caveat comes in. Kiki's Delivery Service along with Castle in the Sky (Laputa) have had two different English Disney soundtracks over the years. The original l998 soundtrack (on the 2005 DVD) which was enhanced with new English opening and closing songs, some boosted sound effects and other musical embellishments where it was quiet on the Japanese release and quite a bit of additional ad-libbing from Phil Hartman's Jiji which considerably livened up the dub.
However in 2010 when the DVD was re-released; Disney revised the English track to adhere more closely to the original Japanese track. This resulted in cutting out the two English songs as well as a good number of the embellishment and crowd comments and as a result this newer version feels slightly more flat to me than the older 2005 version did (though it's still wonderful) and as a result could prove disappointing to some. So when you read a review claiming that the movie has been cut or it's not as good as it used to be; this is what they really are referring to!
So like last years release of the Castle in the Sky BD; some of us feel that the original English dubs of Kiki and Castle should have been kept or at least included along with their newer English dubs so that viewers could get whichever they preferred. As this is one of those rare situations where many otaku feel the original English enhancements actually improved these two movies. And in the case of Kiki's Delivery Service, made a great movie even slightly better! So like Castle if you have and/or loved the original English DVD releases, you may want to hold onto them just in case. Of course if you've never heard the 2003 release of Castle or the 2005 release of Kiki then you won't miss the differences and will be perfectly happy as they're still wonderful soundtracks.
As for the movie itself, despite that little caveat; this is a movie that will still wow you whichever version you watch! Though in a quiet and unassuming way. It's a virtually perfect family movie and I've never seen anyone who didn't fall in love with it at first sight. I consider it one of the top ten family animated movies of all time! 5 big stars out of 5!
on March 15, 2004
It's great that Americans are finally discovering the dazzling animation of Japanese genius Hayao Miyazaki (whose film "Spirited Away" won the award for Best Animated Film in 2003), and that Disney has started to release excellent DVD editions of his films with both Japanese and English language options. Miyazaki's 1989 film "Kiki's Delivery Service" ("Majo no takkyubin" in Japanese; literally "Witch's Express Mail") is his most easily accessible and the best place to start in watching his movies. "Kiki's Delivery Service" is an honest-to-goodness 'family' film. Children will adore it, and adults will find themselves enchanted with its charm, delightful characters, and the sheer beauty of the animation. I once watched the film with a room of twenty and thirty year-olds, a few young children, and an 84 year-old woman, and everybody LOVED it and cheered the heroine on at the end. Simply put, there are few films out there that are as loveable and likable as this.
In terms of story, it's an odd film: there's not much in the way of 'plot.' The film depends strongly on its heroine and the way she learns from the world and the people around her as she grows up. Kiki is a thirteen-year-old witch in training who leaves her home to start her required period of living on her own to discover her talents. Kiki and her cat sidekick Jiji jet out on her broom to a city (vaguely European, with traces of Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam) and settle down at a friendly baker's shop, where Kiki establishes her own broom-powered delivery service (look out, Fed-Ex!). The story follows her troubles and joys, such as her friendship with a local boy inventor Tombo, her meeting with nature-loving artist Ursula, the tricks and difficulties of making deliveries, and the possible loss of her powers when she starts to lose belief in herself. It all climaxes in a thrilling action sequence that Superman would be proud of.
The movie leaps from wonderful sequence to wonderful sequence: Kiki's passionate farewell to her parents, her first flight over the city, Tombo's wild ride on his experimental flying bike, a dangerous flight through a flock of birds, the action-packed finale, and the many terrific meetings between Kiki and other charming characters. Watching Kiki learn and grow will have an affect on children young and old: everybody can take something away from the lessons Kiki learns about herself. And of course, the animation is dazzling; not only the sweeping visuals, but the nuances of the characters' expressions and movements.
The DVD offers the film in English and Japanese (oh, and Spanish too). If you watch the film in Japanese, you have the choice to watch it with two different sets of subtitles. One set is a literal translation of the Japanese script. The second are taken directly from the English version, and therefore have a distinctly "American" feel to them. I recommend when watching the Japanese version to stick with the literal subtitles. Since the English dub of the film often adds extra lines to characters (especially Jiji), it can be confusing to see subtitles pop up when nobody is speaking.
The Americanized dubbed version, however, is fantastic as well, and done with great respect and intelligence. The voice cast is superb: Kirsten Dunst as Kiki, Janeane Garofola as Ursula, and Debbie Reynolds as sweet old Miss Dora. But the scene-stealer is the late Phil Hartman as Kiki's smart-aleck cat companion, Jiji. Hartman is hysterical in every scene, totally nailing down the character, and his performance is a bittersweet reminder of what a great comedian we lost with his premature death. If you're going to watch the film with children or a large, general group of people, stick with the English version. It's quite an achievement, and just as enjoyable as the Japanese version.
There are some extras, although a lot less than you would expect for a 2-DVD set. John Lassiter (director of "Toy Story") introduces the film, and there's a short documentary about the English language actors. The second disc contains the whole film in storyboard and rough sketch form: this will really only be of interest to animators and hardcore Miyazaki fans.
Every family should have "Kiki's Delivery" service in their library, although the adults may find themselves returning to it as much as the children; and it's a great introduction to Miyazaki. Make sure you also watch "Castle in the Sky," "Spirited Away," and "Princess Mononoke" (the last one isn't really for kids, however).
on February 19, 2016
The intro and outro songs are definitely not the same as the original. Some witty comments by Jiji are left out and overall the movie is very quiet with no ongoing music during scenes where there is no dialogue. However, I rather own the movie than not. It still remains one of my favourite movies of all time. The original is very hard to find and very expensive if you do find it!
On the day that I learned of the impending retirement of Hayao Miyazaki, I wanted to take the time to review yet another Studio Ghibli title. But before I do, I'd like to pay tribute to the great Japanese director.
If I think about my favorite directors, Miyazaki would be high on the list. He might not be number one, but he's probably brought me more pure joy than any other director. Miyazaki has 11 features to his credit as a director, along with several shorts and TV series. He's also written screenplays for other Studio Ghibli directors, including Whisper of the Heart, From Up on Poppy Hill and The Secret World of Arrietty.
All of those movies have the unmistakable Miyazaki feel. His films usually feature strong female characters, elements of fantasy, and a feeling of innocence and purity that is lacking in animated films from other studios. I'm happy that he can finally enjoy his retirement, but I'm sad that the upcoming The Wind Rises will be his last film.
But let's talk about Kiki's Delivery Service.
Although my favorite Studio Ghibli title changes depending on my mood, Kiki's Delivery Service is one of several titles from the studio that I would rate as perfect. Kiki (Kirsten Dunst) is a 13-year-old witch who is about to leave home for one year to further her training. She takes Jiji (Phil Hartman), her black cat, and finds a town where she can settle. Her mother makes potions, but Kiki is unsure what services she will provide, until an opportunity presents itself. She returns a pacifier to a young mother and realizes that she can make her living by flying all over town to deliver other items.
Like most Ghibli worlds, the people in Kiki's new town are kind and generous. She's given a place to stay by Osono (MacNeille), who runs the local bakery. In return, she'll mind the store on occasion and deliver things for its customers. The locals are all impressed by her ability to fly, but it's her character that eventually charms most of them. She's simply a good person, and everyone she comes into contact with likes her.
One boy. Tombo (Matthew Lawrence) develops a crush the moment he sees her, and tries to get to know her better as the story progresses. Like Hayao Miyazaki, Tombo has a fascination with flying. He's trying to build a machine that will do just that, and he's eager to show his work to Kiki.
There are no villains of any kind, but the story does contain moments of peril. However, I would recommend Kiki's Delivery Service to anyone, whether they are four years old or over 80. It's the kind of movie that will make you smile right from the start, and keep delighting you throughout the 103 minutes. Phil Hartman has most of the best lines, and some of his remarks provide the funniest moments.
I recently loaned the movie to a friend and her 5-year-old insisted on watching it three times. As soon as I got it back, I was compelled to watch it again myself.
There is no North American Blu-ray at the time of writing, but you can import it from Japan if you require a Region A disc. It's also available in other parts of the world, including the UK (Region B locked). I suspect a North American release will happen next summer.
I'll close by thanking Hayao Miyazaki for Kiki's Delivery Service and the many other memorable titles he has been involved with. I can't imagine another animation studio coming close to his lofty achievements.
Overall score 5/5
"Kiki's Delivery Service" is a perfect example of a story idea that is merely decent, but is turned into a brilliant story because it's handled by a master storyteller. It's a literally enchanting story of a young witch who goes out to begin her life as an apprentice witch -- but it's the lovely animation, endearing characters and upbeat message of having confidence in yourself that are really striking.
It's witch tradition that when a young witch begins her training, she spends a year living alone in a strange city. So Kiki (Kirsten Dunst) and her grumpy cat Jiji (Phil Hartman) for a big city. Despite her iffy flying skills and a sudden storm, Kiki successfully makes it to a seaside town -- and soon she has found a room to stay in, job as a delivery-witch, and some new friends (as well as an admiring young boy named Tombo, who's crazy about flying machines).
It doesn't take long for Kiki's business to start booming, and for the townspeople to become very fond of their resident witch. But when she starts feeling like an outsider around Tombo's friends, Kiki finds that she can no longer fly or hear Jiji's voice. Is her magic gone forever -- or does it need something special to finally make a return? Will the little witch learn her greatest lesson, or will she fail before she even really starts?
Personally, most stories that emphasize "believing in yourself," "doing your best" and so on end up being pretty nauseating because it never feels like the filmmakers actually believe it. I can't speak for Hayao Miyazaki's outlook on life, but he is one of the few who actually makes you believe that there's a kind of magic in self-confidence.
The story itself is so simple that it could be summed up in just a couple sentences, but Miyazaki weaves in enough complications and twists that it stays interesting (such as Kiki losing one of her deliveries). Things get rather bittersweet when Kiki loses her powers, but most of the movie is fairly lighthearted and sunny -- and there's some dry humor from Jiji to counterbalance Kiki's earnestness ("Okay, first: don't panic. Second: don't panic. And third: did I mention not to panic?").
And he sketches a truly enchanting backdrop for Kiki's coming-of-age -- a idyllic little village by the sea, framed by the blue sea and rolling green fields. The people are almost unreally kind and generous, leaving you wishing you were in Kiki's place.
And Kiki may be a witch, but she's probably the most realistic "kid" heroine that I've ever seen in a movie. She worries about what people think of her, works hard to do her best, and feels lonely at times after leaving her loving home -- just what you'd expect of a thirteen-year-old. Jiji is a hilariously sardonic familiar with an eye for the lady cats, and Tombo is an endearing young aviation geek who clearly has a crush on Kiki. And Miyazaki sketches out a supporting cast of lovable characters -- kind old ladies, a forest-dwelling artist, a pregnant baker, and others.
"Kiki's Delivery Service" is a simple story with a simple message, but it's delivered with such warmth and sweetness that you don't care at all. Truly magical -- and not the kind you need a witch for.
on March 14, 2003
This is one of the trilogy of Japanese beautifully animated features that my daughter adores. (I'll have to add Spirited Away, as soon as we get a copy after its release in April 2003.)
The other two movies being Totoro, which I like better and Go Panda Go, which does not have the same quality of animation as the other two.
Kiki's Delivery Service is actually complex, with something for adults and children to enjoy and to be capitivated by. Kiki struggles while trying to make her own way during the rite of passage from being a kid, to being a young adult. She's 13, (I thought, hmmm, 13 Batmitzvah age)and ready to try her wings, or in this case, her broom.
No freaky witchcraft stuff here, nothing frightening or creepy. Kiki's powers seem connected with her confidence in herself and her ability to believe in herself. A great message for girls and all kids, and heck, for everybody.
And the animation is amazing. From the bakery, to the clouds, the people, everything, its really lovely to watch and would be worth seeing just for the animation alone. And Phil Hartman as Gigi the cat, he's wonderful, sarcastic, and very funny. An excellent movie for kids that parents don't have to worry about.
on January 1, 2003
"Kiki's Delivery Service" is another great movie by the great anime director Hayao Miyazaki. Kiki is a 13-year old girl who's also a witch. Following tradition, she must set out on the night of a full moon to a town (with no witches I gather) and begin her training away from home -- to learn her skills.
This movie is unique in that there are no bad guys. It is simply a story of a young girl, her cat Jiji, and her coming to the threshold of womanhood. So she has her first "romance" with one of the local boys who's into flying and really digs Kiki because she can fly on a broom. The romance is sweetly done and is nothing more than the romances many of us had at 12-13 -- totally innocent.
I've not yet seen the Japanese version (though I plan to), so I don't know how well of a job at translation Disney did. I hear it is pretty good though. Certainly, the English dub is very good -- maybe some of the best for anime. Phil Hartman is perfect in the role of Jiji the black cat. There are a few areas where I suspect things didn't translate as well, but that's to be expected since there are things in the Japanese language that don't translate well into English.
My only problem with the movie is that it really feels rushed at the end. So the ending wasn't very satisfying. However, seeing scenes through the credits (especially of Jiji) helped ease my pain (if you will).
Bottom line: This is a great kid's movie and one that adults will enjoy as well.
on October 15, 2002
If you have a girl between 4-13, she should love this. This movie seemed to be made for them. The younger ones will love the silly cat, Jiji, the flying, and the excitment. The older ones will like the more quiet times: Kiki losing her magic, her visits with Ursula, dreaming of being on their own at such a young age, and Kiki's soul-searching.
Two things that might keep people from seeing this movie: A) It's a "cartoon," and therefore preceived to be loud, noisy, sappy, and Disney. It is none of these. This is suprisingly a calm movie without being boring or inane. No one sings (a BIG plus in my book), the only cute-sidekick is Jiji --Kiki's cat who has some snide lines, there is zero violence, zero innuendo (unless you count Jiji's very quick comment about Ursula painting her, but then you may have issues), and no attempts to hide modern references into the plot like Disney would try.
The other thing that could keep people from seeing it is that it is sometimes referred to as "Anime" (Japanese Animation) a name that conjures up every Pokemon, Digimon, Sailor Moon, and Speed Racer cliche possible, as well as those stereotypically creepy females in anime that come up. None of these apply to Kiki's Delivery Service, which looks like it could have been done anywhere.
Everything works in this movie. The Dubbed version's cast is great, even the final performance of Phil Hartman as Jiji is good. So, go rent this for the kids, and you'll be pleasantly suprised on how easy you're drawn in -- maybe even more than they are.