Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery Service ★★★★½

"We fly with our spirit."


So, yes, once upon a time in college, I used to be one of those guys who felt animes were only meant for children as if I was an all-matured all-old man, but after watching some animes like Grave of the Fireflies and Paprika in the last 2 years, I felt like real kids are the ones who pass such statements on animes without even trying to feel the maturity in them! Since I have a bad history of living by the new year resolutions I make in life, for a change, I made a resolution in film to watch more 'n' more animes this year and check out the works of Japanese animasters like Hayao Miyazaki, Satoshi Kon, Isao Takahata, Makoto Shinkai to name a few and so here it goes, my introduction to the Cinema of Hayao Miyazaki that's off to a flying start quite literally as well as metaphorically with Kiki's Delivery Service...

First things first (Excuse me if it comes off as lame though) - Brooms are meant for the craft of sweeping in general, but here they assume an altogether different meaning in witchcraft and I was seriously blown away by the scale of sweeping visuals and animation work on display here throughout Kiki's attempts to reach soaring heights literally as well as figuratively! I just happened to read how Miyazaki and his team drew inspiration from the landscapes of Stockholm and Visby for modelling the design of the port city of Koriko and I already wish I get rich enough to check out these places by visiting them directly in the future! Although the film is only 103 minutes long, it gave me an impression of being in its world for a long time and of course, I didn't mind it as the pace was so comfortably uniform by chipping in with happy little moments and small yet big conflicts personally in equal measures from time to time.

Then, the characters, I mean I honestly didn't think I'd remmber everyone by name and face given that I am watching an anime after a long time, but all the characters were so cute and uniquely sketched, be it all the kind women Kiki encounters over her journey who help her in many ways and the fact that all these characters were women with each of them forming a sort of maternal figure like bond with Kiki was so heartwarmingly in line with how she was missing her mother and aspiring to become a witch just like her mother, (or), Tombo who first comes off as a stalker to us or rather "clown" to Kiki but slowly makes her understand what he is and on a side note, poor Tombo, he made Kiki feel better sitting by the ocean, but little did he know that she used to not feel good about herself in terms of having only one dress to wear and didn't expect her to perhaps suffer inferiority complex at the hands of lavishly-dressed girl gang trying to take him away from Kiki for having a look around inside that dirigible and he didn't intend to do so, but poor Kiki left him scratching his head literally there! Also, excuse my romantic-self for bringing love in the context of 13-year-olds here, but I am still not sure whether Tombo's interests in Kiki were kinda related to love or only limited to being in awe of her flying abilities and trying to learn the same by spending time with her! Kiki-Jiji is surely one of the most iconic pairs to have graced the Cinema and some comments of Jiji like "Disgusting, what a stuck-up cat" "I'll be a white cat by morning" "Personally, I'm not very fond of her conceited cat" are outright hilarious and my oh my, dare I say the tension in that dog-cat scene rivalled the one felt during the opening of Inglourious Basterds!

Similar to how Kiki got caught up in all the stuff related to training and never gave it a thought for why she wanted to pursue witchcraft in the first place, we also sometimes lose the sense of purpose in some things we do and feel like we have lost the charm of reworking the magic in that particular line of work, but by correlating the spirits in all the crafts, be it the spirit of the witches or the spirit of the artists or the spirit of the bakers, Kiki's realization in the film that each of us needs to find our own inspiration in whatever we intend to do comes across so well thematically and cinematically through a particular character and its well-etched background.

All-in-all, coming back to the children vs adult debate for anime, if you find yourselves falling in the same category as I did a long time ago, try getting started with these Studio Ghibli animes and Kiki's Delivery Service is one such coming-of-age film that can deliver its goods well for all the ages in the sense that children should watch it preferably while transitioning into adulthood and likewise adults rather than mere enjoyment can also have a happy/sad time in relating to at least one of the hardships encountered by Kiki during her r̶i̶s̶e̶-̶a̶n̶d̶-̶f̶a̶l̶l̶ fall-and-rise journey of self-discovery!



P.S. I wish everyone a very happy new year with lots of love, health and hope coming your way and to speak in the context of Kiki's Delivery Service, I also was a bit hesitant like Kiki in adapting to a new place or community when I joined Letterboxd in Nov 2019 (thanks to CinemaLanguage who helped me discover this gem of a site while scrolling through one of his stories in the QnA sessions he holds every Saturday on his Insta account), but I didn't face many difficulties like Kiki as soon I started exploring more 'n' more content of International Cinema and similar to how Kiki improved her (witch)craft from her personal experiences, I also cultivated a lot of understanding about film craft by watching, writing and reading all the thoughtful stuff you guys shared here on a regular basis over the course of my journey. Just like how Kiki made several kind friends during her journey, I made several such friends across countries and cultures here (partly thanks to myself for being a proponent of "Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films") and one particular thing I love the most among my fellow Letterboxd users here is the respect for an individual's opinion in adhering to the notion of all art is subjective.

Most of my reviews are not reviews as such because they just contain my excitement or thoughts about certain things I loved to the core in a film, be it emotionally or technically and I try to write candidly about what I loved as much as possible even where there are parts of a film I couldn't appreciate and personally I'm not a fan of using strong words like hated or disliked because who knows the same parts of a film may grow upon you and end up loving during any subsequent rewatches of the same. As far as 2020 is concerned, it was a largely forgettable year on the whole for sure, but for those who are fortunate to be alive today, the pandemic gave ample time and scope to reset and reassess and in terms of film viewing, it was undoubtedly the best year of my life wrt how I view Cinema as a means of escape. I've always been vocal about how Letterboxd helped me to kill time in a productive manner rather than killing myself mentally with various thoughts and since I hold a job for myself now, as a token of gratitude, I recently upgraded to PRO in Nov 2020 and I wish I could go on contributing to the site as much as I can in an all healthy and enthusiastic manner because it is said that "The first foretaste of the eternal is having time for love" and in my case, well, probably the second foretaste of the eternal is: having time for film!

M S Krishna Prateek liked these reviews

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