15 Nov 2019

Kiki at 30: Kiki’s Delivery Service

From Widescreen, 2:38 pm on 15 November 2019

Ghibli’s Kiki gets the boxset treatment and Dan Slevin approves.

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Photo: Madman

In a year full of important cinematic anniversaries, you won’t find a film that looks quite as fresh as Miyazaki-san’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, given a handsome boxed set treatment by Madman Entertainment including Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film with heaps of extras, the gorgeous book The Art of Kiki’s Delivery Service, a packet of postcards and a commemorative coin.

But it’s the film itself that shines the brightest.

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Photo: Madman

Kiki is thirteen years old and excited to be leaving home. She’s a trainee witch and that means flying to a new town and building a life for herself so that she can use her powers to serve people. Brave and dedicated, Kiki (and her faithful black cat companion Jiji) is determined to be the best witch that she can be.

Blown off course by a storm, she arrives at a different – bigger – town than she was expecting but she soon finds lodging with the pregnant baker who employs her and her broomstick to make important deliveries around the town.

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Photo: Madman

But eventually, loneliness and disconnection give Kiki a kind of ‘magic block’. She loses the ability to fly and can no longer understand what her cat is saying to her. Eventually, thanks to a crisis involving an airship and a young man who would like to be her boyfriend, she rediscovers her magical mojo and regains her purpose in life.

One of the most striking things about Kiki is that – despite its Japanese nature – it is actually set in Northern Europe. Seeing as the two places I have enjoyed visiting the most in the last ten years are Japan and Sweden I was thrilled to discover that Miyazaki-san was inspired by the cobbled streets and gabled roofs of Stockholm and Visby. It could be my perfect combination.

We chose – as we usually do – to listen to the original Japanese audio with subtitles but there is an English soundtrack, recorded for the Disney release in 1998 and featuring Kirsten Dunst and Phil Hartman.

As is always the case with Ghibli pictures, the music is delightful and the opening song by Yumi Arai, “Rouge no Dengon” (ルージュの伝言 Rūju no Dengon, “Message of Rouge”) – thanks Wikipedia! – is utterly delightful.

You really can’t go wrong with Ghibli and Miyazaki for family entertainment and this box gives Kiki the treatment she deserves.

Kiki’s Delivery Service 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-ray (rated PG) is available at good DVD retail stores or direct from Madman Entertainment. R.R.P. is $99.