Wick-Quoting #4: Kiki’s Delivery Service

Yet again, another young, little girl with short hair.  What is with this trend of young girls in Miyazaki’s films?  It seems as though Miyazaki has a fetish; but wait, this time, the girl has both parents, not only alive, but well too (unlike Miyazaki’s other popular work, My Neighbor Totoro).  This caught my attention as soon as Kiki’s mother mentions the father at the beginning of the film.  I thought that the radio was important to Kiki because maybe the father left it for her when he died, so I was really shocked to see she has a dad.

Father & Daughter

Miyazaki’s characters are always so independent, so I guess it is only natural to see Kiki fly off to another town on her own.  Even if it’s only for a year, I find it hard to imagine a 13 year old girl moving to a completely new area and taking care of herself.  The fact that Kiki is separated from her parents makes her similar to Miyazaki’s other heroines, who have to fend for themselves.  However, I must say that the inclusion of parents makes the film a much more reassuring and happy experience.  It definitely makes the film much more “child friendly,” despite the obvious complex issues.

Kiki’s problems allows for three benefits to happen throughout the film: 1) a break from mainstream views, 2) unique comedy, 3) and a bunch of “aww” moments.

1) Being an animated film, Kiki’s Delivery Service has plenty of opportunities to try out new concepts; and knowing Miyazaki, that’s pretty much expected.  It’s amazing how Miyazaki is able to easily create such worlds, where it doesn’t force viewers to question the legitimacy of the fantastic.  As you watch the film open, you generally just accept what Miyazaki throws at you.  In Nausicaa, it’s the ohmu, in Porco Rosso, it’s Marco’s pig-like appearance, and in Kiki’s Delivery Service, it’s Kiki’s ability to fly.  Acceptance of the wondrous is paralleled with the characters in the film, such as the townsfolk surprised, but relaxed reaction of Kiki flying down on a broomstick.

Unlike mainstream media, Kiki’s has many surprises.  In the scene with the dog and Jiji (the cat), a chase sequence is expected, especially because a cat-and-mouse chase scene is referenced.  However, the film goes beyond the expected behavior and displays a more mature side, as if foreshadowing Kiki’s development at the end.

What a nice dog..

2) Another aspect which is great about this film is the humor.  Thank goodness, Kiki’s does not contain immature toilet humor.  A scene like that would’ve totally ruined the flow of its sophisticated jokes.  Parents can rest assured, knowing that their children won’t rot from the typical G rated humor.

Humor is delicately scattered throughout the film, like markers of comic relief.  Jiji is an excellent comic indicator, as he spouts humorous phrases and reactions (esp towards the female cat, Lily).

Such blunt humor!!

3) Like Totoro, this film contains many parts of special bondage between the characters.  These usually come from the little gestures in the animation.  For example, the baker hiding when Kiki comes back from work and walking out nonchalantly, as if coming out coincidentally as Kiki arrives, is such a minor detail that viewers might miss.  But it tells a lot about the characters, such as the baker’s shy manner, his wanting to look cool, and his openness to Kiki’s hug for the sign that he makes for her business.  These little gestures make the film much more realistic and relatable towards the general audience.  Practically everyone experienced a time where they showed kindness for another.

What a sweet moment

It's the little moments that make you feel all gooey inside

Even so, Kiki’s is not just all flowers and butterflies.  What makes the film so enjoyable to a broad audience is all the different qualities packed into one.  If Kiki’s was to be a Mario Kart character, it would probably be Luigi – not the signature Miyazaki film (like Totoro), but still well-rounded in all sorts of different (film) elements.  At some points, it is a drama or fantasy, and at many others, a comedy.  At one point, it even seems like a racing film as Kiki and Tombo speed down the hill on the propeller-powered bicycle.

It looks like they’re gonna drift

Not only is the animation up-to-par (esp considering its age), the music reaches the typical Miyazaki film level.  Even though the music is not as recognizable as let’s say, Howl’s Moving Castle‘s is, it still goes along nicely with the story and setting.  And as always, Miyazaki skillfully places a silent scene at the climax, similar to many other of his films (Castle in the Sky/in the snake’s lair).  The silence only makes the film more exciting as it is followed by loud cheering.

With animation, practically any shot can be achieved, allowing for new, exciting angles

And the crowd goes wild!!

I must say, this is one of my favorite Miyazaki films (which includes Howl’s) mainly because it is one of the most feel good stories.  There is no real conflict like in Nausicaa, which leaves for an easy viewing.  Even though Jiji ends up not talking at the end, it’s still reassuring, because cats aren’t supposed to talk in the first place.  Also, Kiki becomes generally accepted in her new town and gains a close relationship with Tombo.  Jiji not being able to talk with Kiki also shows the maturity level that Kiki gains over the course of the film.

+ maturity = + assurance

Growth is seen in Kiki as she matures and is able to relate with her new friends, leaving her days of talking to her cat behind.  The film does show a valuable life lesson – even if you lose something important, another thing takes its place, making life more sporadic and enjoyable.  Maturity isn’t as bad as you think, as the film shows.

Kiki & Jiji reunite

Side Note: This film was released only 5 days after I was born!!


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