Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) Review

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Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Majo no takkyūbin
Japanese: 魔女の宅急便

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Based on Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono

Starring:
Minami Takayama
Rei Sakuma
Kappei Yamaguchi

(English Dub Voice Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo, Matthew Lawrence, Brad Garrett, Debbie Reynolds, Edie McClurg)

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young witch, on her mandatory year of independent life, finds fitting into a new community difficult while she supports herself by running an air courier service.

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My Opinion:

Version Watched: Japanese with English subtitles & English dubbed version

Well, I already reviewed My Neighbor Totoro on Tuesday so I figured I’d do this one today & will try to review Ponyo tomorrow. I guess this will then be the week of the most “child friendly” Studio Ghibli films (of what I’ve seen so far). 🙂

Kiki’s Delivery Service is one that has really grown on me. Like I mentioned in my Totoro review, I often like a movie even more when I get to see it through a child’s eyes & see how much they enjoy it. Kiki’s is fun and very innocent – it’s a great film for young kids (especially girls). It’s easily the most “Western” of the Ghiblis I’ve seen so, for those of you who’ve been reading these reviews and are still not sure about watching a Ghibli film due to some of them being a little strange, this movie may be a good introduction. It’s not the best Studio Ghibli movie if you’re comparing it to the more “worthy” films they’ve made but I know some bloggers here on WordPress have a lot of affection for it as I think it’s one that some of you youngsters grew up with. I know that I’d absolutely adore it if I’d seen it at a young age.

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The story is very simple: a 13-year-old witch must go out on her own for a year to make a life for herself & gain independence. Kiki takes along her talking cat Jiji & ends up living above a bakery where she helps the owner by flying on her broomstick to quickly deliver the goods to customers. She makes several new friends, all of whom help Kiki to find herself & to fit in.

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The story is about girls growing up & gaining independence and confidence as well as dealing with feelings of self-doubt. These are great themes for young girls but it’s also such a fun movie that the very young will enjoy just watching Kiki fly around on her broomstick and talk to her adorable cat. Kiki is another strong female role model from Ghibli but as she’s so young she’s unsure of herself at times unlike other characters such as Nausicaä & Princess Mononoke. It makes her feel more human & realistic. In looking for pictures for these Ghibli reviews, I of course see loads of cosplay photos and I’ve seen more girls dressed as Kiki than any other character so far so she’s obviously very popular. I do love her look of a simple black dress, big red bow, broomstick & cute black cat. 🙂

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Subtitled vs Dubbed:

I figured I’d mention this like I did in my review of Howl’s Moving Castle as I’d have to say that the English dubbing for Kiki’s Delivery Service is my least favorite of the dubbed Ghiblis I’ve seen. The majority of the characters aren’t too bad and Kirsten Dunst’s Kiki is tolerable, I guess – she just talks way too fast and doesn’t really suit the character that well. However, my main issue was with the cat! I watched the subtitled version first and absolutely loved the cat. He’s funny & has a little bit of an attitude (in a good way). In the dubbed version, he’s voiced by Phil Hartman and he ad-libbed a lot. I found the cat much less likeable and with a little TOO much attitude in this version. Hartman did add some pretty funny lines and I’m sure kids really like his version fine but it just didn’t work for me. Plus I think, as Kiki’s is a far less strange film and has a very straightforward story & characters unlike other Ghibli films, the one thing that keeps it feeling at all Japanese is the original language. In English, Kiki’s Delivery Service almost feels like a Disney movie. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing… These are small complaints, though – I think it’s a very sweet film but, if you don’t have kids and want to watch this one yourself, I highly recommend the subtitled version over the dubbed.

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Summary:

Kiki’s Delivery Service is probably the most kid friendly of all the Studio Ghibli films and a great one for young girls as it has a very realistic female role model. It’s for the young as well as the young at heart. It is aimed more at girls than some of the other films but certainly worth a watch for true Ghibli fans of all ages. It doesn’t have the “magic” of My Neighbor Totoro but it’s still a lot of fun. Do yourself a favor if you’re an adult watching it without a kid, though, and watch the far superior subtitled version.

My Rating: 8/10

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14 thoughts on “Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) Review

  1. I watched the dubbed version of this and I didn’t love it. I think I like the weird Japanese elements more than the Westernised ones. Lol!

    • I agree with that! This doesn’t have the magic weirdness of the other Ghibli stuff, especially in English! It was much much better subtitled. I do prefer a little more weirdness from the Ghibli name. 😉

  2. It is a great movie. When watching it I always expected something bad happening, but it never did, so I agree this is a good movie for younger children as well.

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