Penny’s review published on Letterboxd:
The spirit of witches. The spirit of artists. The spirit of bakers. I suppose it must be a power given by God.
Ranking these is becoming very difficult.
I find it is the case that sometimes you watch a film at the exact right moment where it is relevant to your life. The themes of the film mirror your ongoing struggle and are handled in a way where it seems like the film is speaking to you directly. It seems uncanny in the way the dialogue seems to reference you specifically, even though you know this is impossible.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is an amazing film, but if my first viewing happened to be a year ago or a year from now, I’m not sure I would like it as much or have such a hard time ranking it alongside Miyazaki’s other works. Spirited Away is still my favorite film of his just off the back of having the richest film world ever, but the themes of this film and the character of Kiki might be the best he’s ever explored.
Among themes of depression, leaving home, finding your place in the world, and navigating friendships, the most prominent theme explored in the film is the loss of spirit. Kiki loses hers and sometimes I feel that I have lost mine. Sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic. Sometimes it’s hard to value yourself or see yourself as a person. Sometimes it’s hard to see life as a gift. Sometimes it’s hard to see that you matter. When Kiki lost her spirit, one of her friends gave her some advice, and it was simply to take a walk amongst nature. To soak everything in. To just do nothing and live completely in the moment.
While watching the film and immediately after, there was no immediate emotional impact on me. I thought the themes were great and thought it was a damn good movie, but nothing punched me in the chest. Unbeknownst to me, the movie triggered something in my mind causing a reaction in me that no film has ever caused before. The movie started snowballing downhill in my mind whilst an avalanche followed not so far behind. As I thought more and more about this movie, I also became more and more concerned with the downward trajectory I have been feeling in recent months and how I had felt my footing start to slip. I thought about the feelings of anxiety I have about leaving home, finding my place in the world, and navigating friendships. I was concerned that I had been regressing lately and slipping back into the depression I had experienced before. I was worried about the fact that I had been crying more in the past couple of months than I have since I was an infant. I was worried I was losing my spirit again.
So what did I do? At 10 pm at night, I put on my shoes and went for a walk. I didn’t go anywhere in particular. I just walked. At night. And I bawled the entire time.
Release always helps and what also helped was that I realized that all is not lost. I realized that crying can be an indication of spirit and not the loss of it. I realized that me having the most visceral reaction to a film than I ever have before means that I have lots of spirit left. I realized that this film isn’t speaking to me directly and that’s a good thing because it means I’m not alone in my struggle.
So thanks Miyazaki for the amazing film and also for the therapy session. I hope I can shake your hand one day and hand you a check.