Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery Service ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

English subtitles, Japanese audio.

Essential

The story of a young girl learning to appreciate the love she extends to others and understanding the meaning of her own impact. How she learns to accept her own adequacy as a witch (despite not having or learning any specific, specialised witch powers), and not allowing her lack of emotional guidance and self-confidence to urge her towards conformity within the society—it's not about the shoes or the dress, it's about allowing passion to guide her actions towards her own acceptance of self. At the end she still stares in the shop window as she did when she first arrived, but that wish fulfilment would (symbolically) come at the cost of her integrity. The world of Kiki's Delivery Service is shockingly harsh, and far from rising above it all, Kiki offers a route away from alienation by revelling in her rejection of her 'natural superiority'. This idea of being a witch but without the specialisation of skill that makes her 'valuable' as a witch (and only being just proficient enough to cover the most basic aspect—flying) is a reflective valuation of the idea that skills and emotions need to be commodified. That by running her delivery service she runs into the wall of her passion being commodified. It's only by responding to the emotional connection she formed with Tombo and her customers (divorced from the financial services she provides—she only knows about the dirigible accident from accepting the cake, not from responding to a delivery) that she can effectively see herself as a communitarian subject—valued for her ability to provide the emotional weight that her actions always held. It's this mixture of confidence and adequacy that really makes Kiki's struggle relatable; the business is just an extension of that struggle.

Subsequent review.

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