“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.”
If you’ve ever been around the library on Halloween, the character in the picture above may look a bit familiar. Kiki is one of my go-to Halloween costumes and I tend to haul it out every other year or so. “Who is Kiki?” I hear you ask. Well, she’s the main character of the film I want to talk about today, Kiki’s Delivery Service.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is one of Studio Ghibli’s most well-known and beloved movies. For those who have never heard of Studio Ghibli before, I like to liken it to the Japanese Disney; in other words, it’s one of Japan’s top animation studios, and Disney actually provides the English dubbing for most of the studios’ movies (and typically provides an all-star cast).
My love for Studio Ghibli runs deep, one of my absolute favorite comfort movies, Howl’s Moving Castle (we’ll talk about it later), is a Studio Ghibli creation. But Kiki was probably my first experience with the animation studio’s work and it holds a special place in my heart because of that.
Created in 1989 the movie tells the story of Kiki, a young witch setting out from home for the first time for a year’s training on her own. Kiki’s parents are worried because she doesn’t have the skills other witches have when they head out. In fact, the only skill Kiki really has is her ability to fly, something she’s far from mastered.
The movie follows Kiki and her wise cracking cat, Jiji, as they move to a coastal town, make some new friends, and start a delivery service using Kiki’s flying skills. Like with many of Studio Ghibli’s movies, there isn’t really an antagonist to speak of; instead the plot is progressed by exploring Kiki’s feelings of self-worth and confidence as she starts to grow up and come into her own.
It’s a sweet coming of age story suitable for all, with gorgeous animation typical of Studio Ghibli, and beautiful music by composer Joe Hisashi, who does the music for most of Studio Ghibli’s films, and is quickly becoming my second favorite composer of all time.
While I grew up watching this movie on TV and now own a copy on DVD, it wasn’t until recently that I learned the film is actually based on a 1985 Japanese children’s book of the same name by author Eiko Kadono. The reason I learned about it now? Because for the first time ever the book has been translated into English and is available here in the states.
The library system has copies of both the film and the book (found here and here), so if you’re interested in either (or both! It’s fun to compare), definitely check them out.
~~Brittany, Youth Services Librarian
Agreed! A most delightful film!