Movie #54 2020: Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

As you’ll probably know by now, Netflix have been releasing Studio Ghibli films on their streaming service since the start of February. With it’s second wave came Kiki’s Delivery Service: a tale orbiting the life of a young witch who leaves her family home to start a new life of her own.

If you’ve not seen any of Ghibli’s other works, this is a perfectly good place to start. Although personally I didn’t find this entry as engaging as My Neighbor Totoro or Spirited Away (other Ghibli releases), it is still an epically cute movie with an interesting premise. Now you mention it, I’m yet to see a movie made by them that isn’t completely original in subject matter.

What’s more is, it’s hard to fathom that this was made in 1989. It is such a pure and lovely watch, which made me miss 2D hand-drawn animation terribly.

What is so genius about Studio Ghibli is the way in which they are just enough like classic Disney to draw a Western audience in. Despite being unarguably Japanese with its anime style, there is nothing here that would alienate a Disney die hard. In Kiki, they manage to do something that pre-2000s Disney could never quite get right: follow a female protagonist without an unnecessary romantic story line. The studio realises that not all little girls want to see their heroes finding their ”Prince Charming”. What some little girls want to see is a female character taking charge of her own life, making her own, independent decisions… whilst also flying around on a broomstick. There are still male characters in this movie, and Kiki herself finds companionship in a local boy from the city that she sets up camp in, but it is purely platonic and there isn’t even a hint of it being anything more than a friendship. This plot device only adds to the charm of the movie as a whole.

In more irrelevant news, the main character has a cat that I’m sure must have been the inspiration for Salem Saberhagen in the 90s adaptation of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He’s almost a carbon copy minus the mildly racy jokes, making him possibly the best character of the entire movie.

This is absolutely not my favourite Studio Ghibli movie – not by a long shot. But it is still a solid piece of animated cinema, and at this point, I’m not sure if these people can make a bad movie.

(Please also note: I’m convinced that we have Kiki’s Delivery Service to thank for Deliveroo).

Kiki’s Delivery Service is available on Netflix.

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