Brandon White’s review published on Letterboxd:
I went back to watching Studio Ghibli films because it’s something that my girlfriend and I wanted to get back to just to finish what we started about our film projects together and make some new ones along the process. So with this one, it’s yet another great addition to the Studio Ghibli filmography that I’m glad I took a break with it because I feel ready to tackle more of their films.
Kirsten Dunst gives a great performance as Kiki who is starting her career as a witch in training and finding a new place to live despite being 13 years old and having no idea about how to live her life in the big city. She was very optimistic about her career because it’s her lifelong dream, and she goes exploring her new life with her cat name Jiji (Phil Hartman). Jiji is a pretty great comic relief as this party pooper who sees the negative side in things and just want to be back to their old place with Kiki’s family.
Kiki comes across colorful characters like Osono (Tress MacNeille) who works her job as the owner of the bakery shop that wants to make great use of Kiki for her capabilities as a witch. She’s the supporting kind that wants to make sure that Kiki has a great life in the big city while also giving Kiki something to do that doesn’t make her act like a slacker here and make sure that she earns her worth here. We also got Tombo (Matthew Lawrence) who is very curious about Kiki for her witch abilities and a person as he also has a fondness for flying, a trademark that Hayao Miyazaki likes to use for his films that he has created so far.
The animation is always solid for Studio Ghibli films as they did a great job establishing the world that Kiki is living in and just how natural it looks that has its beautiful scenery and the citizens that live in the town that is either supporting or not caring towards witches in this. At first, Kiki doesn’t take any of their nonsense and just ignores them, but as time progresses when she meets more of the people here, it does give her a lot of thoughts that create a problem for her mental stability on who she is as a person. She also deals with a lot of things that adults can easily relate to by having this life where she has to balance her life with her job, the social life she has, and taking care of herself as she lives alone with Jiji. How it tackles adulthood is so believable for what Kiki deals with that can also go under child labor issues with adults perhaps taking advantage of Kiki because she’s young and is not quite an adult yet to deal with the real world.
It also gets to the point where Kiki was going through her conformity issues that plays a part in her powers, and it’s something that everybody can relate with as they have something that’s different from the rest of us. So with someone sticking a bit like a sore thumb, it comes to the question of dealing with people thinking differently of you because you’re being yourself, or you just be like the rest of them to play it safe at the expense of being a social robot in the process. It’s the type of identity issue that everybody plays a part with and try to figure out on their own that everybody has a coming of age story for themselves in who they are inside, and Kiki’s story is no exception that has a lot of depth to it.
The only issue I have with the film was the last act. It’s nothing terrible as it has great moments and can be tense at times, but the way it’s presented here compared to the first two acts I felt was slightly tonally out of place and loses a bit of its natural feeling. Also, it was one of those climaxes that I did say, “This feels a bit more typical than I thought was going to be, all right, that’s fine.” It’s not a determent to the film, just something that I notice as I was watching it, but it clearly didn’t take me out of it because Kiki’s Delivery Service is just a sweet slice of life of a witch that’s just making a life for herself while also trying to make some form of difference to society.