Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery Service ★★★★½

I'll never forget the way I felt when I started my first job far from home. Unlike the eponymous lead character of Kiki's Delivery Service, by this point, I was a few years into adulthood and my job didn't remotely inspire the kind of wonder inherent to an aerial courier gig. But I don't doubt that the mixture of excitement, anxiety, and more than a sprinkle of that overwhelming sensation that comes with stepping into a brave new world that I felt were similar to those Hayao Miyazaki envisioned for his Kiki. Just like Kiki, those first forays into truly independent life felt like a rollercoaster to me, with ups and downs peppering my days. More than once, I'd step back and realize how crazy it was for me to be where I was, so far away from the place I called home, living a training wheel-less life for the first time. Even more crazy to me was how, despite my fears, things were turning out to be okay after all.

That Miyazaki and his purveyors of gorgeous, stirring animation understand these specific, bittersweet emotions is obvious from the first few minutes of Kiki's adventure. Every beat reflects the knowledge of men and women who still recall their first adventures of pure–and probably terrifying–freedom. And it's all beautiful and, of course, moving to behold it as someone who's been through it. So many aspects of this reminded me of my own journey but none more so than the way the film conveys the love and support Kiki receives from her loved ones, something that made her journey all the more possible. Suffice it to say, the poignancy therein really resonated with me.

Ultimately, the magic trick of it all comes in the film serving as both a vicarious reminder of those unforgettable days for the older crowd and as a resoundingly effective piece of cinematic comfort for kids who are afraid of growing up. It's no small feat to make the kind of film that can so saliently mean so much to so many in concretely different but always quietly powerful ways. Few filmmakers have demonstrated such a nuanced, universally affecting grasp on coming-of-age stories as well as Miyazaki and Kiki's Delivery Service is one of the famed director's most soaring achievements in that regard and beyond.

P.S. This one is in serious contention for my very favorite Ghibli features.
P.P.S. Despite seeing bits of this many years ago, I'm counting this as my first watch because in seeing it from start to finish, it truly felt like a new, thrilling experience.
P.P.P.S. I'm always obsessed with the flight sequences in Ghibli films and this might just contain the best of the bunch.

Scavenger Hunt 65 #29 out of 31 - Watch an animated film that made less than $50 million worldwide.

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