Set in a time when airships still ruled the skies and World War II never happened, KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE is a coming-of-age tale that explores the difficulties of being a young witch. On her thirteenth birthday, budding witch Kiki is in a hurry to leave her family and establish her independence. With only her talking pet cat as a companion, Kiki is attracted to the bright lights of a beautiful port city, but finds that making friends is not easy. Using her skill at riding a broom to start an express delivery service, Kiki quickly discovers that she cannot take her unique abilities for granted. The film is based on the book MAJO NO TAKKYUBIN by Eiko Kadono, a Japanese writer of children's books; the title literally means "Witch's Special Express Delivery." Like Miyazaki's MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, KIKI is languidly paced--the better to appreciate the level of detail of the film's animation. KIKI differs from the typical "witch" film, like THE CRAFT: Kiki's abilities serve not as a symbol for evil or for ultimate power, but for the talents that lie within the reach of every girl. The film was dubbed in English by several prominent actors, including Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo, and Debbie Reynolds.
Hayao Miyazaki - Japanese director, SPIRITED AWAY
Debbie Reynolds - American Actress/Singer, MOTHER (1996)
Mary Frances Reynolds - American Actress/Singer, MOTHER (1996)
Phil Hartman - Actor, comedian, SNL
Philip Edward Hartman - Actor, comedian, SNL
Janeane Garofalo - Actress
Kirsten Dunst - American actor, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE/BRING IT ON
On her thirteen birthday, budding witch Kiki must head off into the world to start her training and find herself. Moving away from her family with only her pet cat as a companion, Kiki parlays her best skill--riding a broom--into a brisk cottage business. Dubbed in English by big-name actors under the auspices of U.S. distributor Disney, including the vocal talents of Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo, and Debbie Reynolds.
Hayao Miyazaki originally was supposed to serve as producer of the film. When the young director slated to helm the film opted out, Miyazaki stepped in as director. For the film's screenplay significant changes--including the crisis Kiki experiences--were made to the novel, which required much negotiation with Eiko Kadono. Before work on the film began, Miyazaki traveled to Sweden for inspiration for the film's backgrounds. In the Japanese version, the opening and ending songs are by a popular singer from the 1970s, Yumi Arai. Of the Japanese films released in 1989, KIKI was the highest grossing. "In Kiki's life we see reflected the lives of so many young Japanese girls who are loved and supported economically by their parents, but who long for the bright lights of the city, and are about to go there and become independent. The weakness of her determination and shallowness of her understanding are also reflected in the world of today's young people."--Miyazaki, quoted in HAYAO MIYAZAKI: MASTER OF JAPANESE ANIMATION
"...If you see KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE at the video store, pounce....An extraordinary film..." - 09/04/1998 Entertainment Weekly, p.88
"...A whimsical, fun film....KIKI is a welcome novelty to the animation race going on here in the States..." - 09/01/1998 Box Office, p.57
"..A delightful story of a 13-year-old witch..." - 04/17/2003 Los Angeles Times, p.C25
"...This gorgeous animated adventure is among Japanese helmer Hayao Miyazaki's very best work..." - 12/01/2003 Total Film, p.126
"[I]t has a fresh-faced charm of its own. Visually stunning, the movie propels heroine Kiki with swooping realism over an extraordinary retro island." - 05/01/2006 Sight and Sound, p.89
4 stars out of 5 -- "[B]eneath its sunny, colour-saturated, beautifully animated surface, the film becomes a benign guided tour of femininity, gently broaching universal coming-of-age issues..." - 05/26/2016 The Guardian