I love Studio Ghibli. They make films that generally range from good to excellent and excel at art and music. Kiki’s Delivery Service is probably the type of film they’re best at. It has a simple story with some nice themes and a small cast of important characters who get some development but it keeps the focus on one or two of them. As a result they’re able to really develop those few focus characters very well. It isn’t my favourite Studio Ghibli film but it’s still pretty impressive.
The story follows a young witch named Kiki who leaves home to train and find her talent as a rite of passage. She ends up in a large city by the ocean where she encounters some trouble but gets through it with the help of many kind people. Since her special talent is flying she decides to start a delivery service. It’s a pretty standard coming of age story about a young girl who leaves home to find her place in the world. The only real twist is that the girl in this case is a witch. Having a simple story isn’t necessarily a bad thing and Kiki’s Delivery Service is done very well. The story has a very good progression and the themes are explored pretty thoroughly. It has an open ending, but that works to its advantage since the story is more relatable as a result. It honestly might be the best coming of age movie I’ve ever seen. If I had to come up with a complaint about the story it would be that a lot of really convenient events happen and it starts to stretch verisimilitude really thin. But, honestly, that works perfectly with the movie’s optimistic atmosphere. Besides, if you want to complain about optimism Studio Ghibli is likely not for you.
The characters are where it really excels. They’re vibrant and interesting but they’re also flawed. A few of the characters don’t really experience development, but they’re still written as three dimensional characters. Even the old dog who shows up in about five minutes worth of scenes is an interesting character and that really takes talent.
The art is amazing. The backgrounds, characters and overall atmosphere are all done in Studio Ghibli’s distinctive style It immerses you in the world which serves to make the film very engaging. The nature scenes help set the mood and, unlike some Studio Ghibli films, they don’t drag on so long that they take away from the plot. I’m looking at you, Only Yesterday.
The voice acting is great. I especially enjoyed Takayama Minami’s performance. She voices both Kiki and Ursula, and she does it so well that I only noticed because of the credits. The music is also very good and atmospheric.
I’m going to give Kiki’s Delivery Service a yuri factor of 3. Ursula and Kiki share some really homoerotic moments, Ursula viewing Kiki as her muse is especially homoerotic, but it never really goes anywhere beyond that. Which is probably a good thing since Studio Ghibli doesn’t tend to write romance very well. Besides, having the same actress would make it kind of weird.
My final rating for Kiki’s Delivery Service is a 9/10. If you’re looking for a fun, simple movie it’s excellent and you’ll probably enjoy watching it thoroughly. The combination of excellent visuals, interesting characters and great story all contribute to this.