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on January 16, 2003
I used to believe that Anime was nothing but sex and violence -- stuff for grown-ups only. However, I take it back. And I owe it to this cute little gem called KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE that really turned me around for the better. It introduced me to arguably one of the greatest animators of all time, Hayao Miyazaki, who happens to be dubbed as the Walt Disney of Japan. Having since seen virtually ALL of his films, from CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO to SPIRITED AWAY, I can see why he is such a highly acclaimed artist -- his works (and I mean every one of them) are a stroke of genius.

KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE may have been my first real exposure to Miyazaki, but this happens to be the director's fifth film, which was the highest grossing movie of its year in Japan. Adapted from a children's book by Eiko Kadono (which is to be released in America as of this writing), the film is not a typical good-versus-evil conflicted, dysfunctional story but a gentle, character-driven story with endearing characters, beautiful artistry, and a strong, positive message about confidence and independence that are quite encouraging for all, from the youngest of children to the oldest at heart. (On a side note, it persuaded me to get some exercise! The "fat, fat, FAT!!!" line did it for me.)

The story is about 13-year old Kiki, an adorable witch-in-training, who, on one moonlit night, leaves her hometown to seek her independence and fortune. She's accompanied by her wisecracking and hilarious pet black cat, Jiji, and a little wobbly when it comes to takeoffs and landings while maneuvering her broomstick. Kiki arrives at a luxurious town with an ocean view where she eventually finds work at a bakery run by the generous Osono and her silent, gruff husband. There, she starts a high-flying delivery service which opens up many new relationships for the budding witch -- including a friendly painter, Ursula, a kind old woman, Madame, and a boy named Tombo, who dreams of flying.

The above synopsis may sound dull, but KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE certainly is not. It is a joy to watch from start to finish as we see Kiki slowly grow up and learn to have faith in herself, especially when her powers begin to fade away toward the end of the movie. It's engrossing enough to keep one's attention and there are a number of tear-jerking moments that make it more than just a movie. This is a characteristic you'll only be able to find in Miyazaki, and KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE "delivers" a wonderful movie which shows that movies don't have to be about overcoming evil or action-packed or angst-ridden to be entertaining.

In 1996, Disney struck a deal with Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki's studio, to distribute the director's movies worldwide. KIKI was their first release. It proved to be a very successful release when it was released to video on September of 1998; it sold over a million copies in the US - a record for any Anime video. But since then, the movie has been out of print, and there was never a DVD release. Recently, however, Disney has given this movie its first ever DVD release in America (debuting alongside CASTLE IN THE SKY and SPIRITED AWAY).

The movie was originally dubbed into English by Carl Macek of Streamline Pictures, but Disney redubbed the movie when they struck a deal with Miyazaki's Studio Studio Ghibli (for worldwide distribution of his movies, starting with this) with an all-star cast whose performances hold up well even today. Thirteen-year-old Kirsten Dunst is perfect as Kiki, eliciting just the right touch of cuteness, spunkiness, independence, and poignancy to her role. The other actors, which include Debbie Reynolds (Madame), Tress MacNeille - of TINY TOONS and ANIMANIACS fame - (Osono), Jeanane Garofolo (Ursula), and Matthew Lawrence (Tombo), give similarly superb performances. Of the actors, however, it is the late Phil Hartman's witty, sarcastic take on Jiji that steals the show. He added in some new dialogue and proved to be so good at his role that he actually expanded the character. I swear, I just cannot get enough laughs every time I hear his lines. ("First, don't panic! Second, don't panic! And THIRD, did I mention not to panic?!?") The opening and ending songs were replaced by two gorgeous, rollicking numbers from Sydney Forest, but even they seem to suit the story wonderful. In fact, I find myself bouncing to them every time they pop up over the opening and closing credits of the show.

Recently, however, Disney has given KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE a second DVD edition, which offers a lot more extras than its previous edition did (there's newly recorded interviews with Miyazaki and a half-hour long documentary on the locations Miyazaki and his staff visited in order to get ideas for the film's settings). Controversially, though, the new edition also makes some significant edits to the English dub--all the extra dialogue for the dub is gone (which includes much of Hartman's one-liners for Jiji: although one of them omitted--the last in the film which alters an important plot point--is beneficial), and so are the Forest songs. In fact, the entire sound mix has been reverted to the original Japanese music and sound effects, but the vocals aren't as well mixed--there are times when the actors sound like they're talking into a fan. Whether the extras warrant a double-dipping of this revised special edition is up to the customer.
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on February 24, 2000
Face it: any kids' video you buy will be watched over and over, mostly in your presence. You want to choose carefully, since you will be spending so much quality time with this video. Kiki's Delivery Service won't disappoint you. This sweet, gentle movie is a coming-of-age story about Kiki, a 13-year-old witch-in-training. As part of said training, she is required to spend a year away from home practicing her craft. Her subsequent adventures are the subject of this endearing film by Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki. The animation is splendid, the casting mostly inspired (Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Debbie Reynolds, and even the late Phil Hartman as the voice of Kiki's companion cat). Unlike the standard Disney fare, this movie has no violence, no sex, no profanity, and not even a dysfunctional family.
The themes of Kiki's Delivery Service are noble ones. There are far worse ways to spend a few hours (or a few dozen) than watching a young girl make friends and gain self-confidence, especially one as appealing as Kiki. Buy yourself an extra copy of this video. When you wear the first one out watching it by yourself, you'll need the spare to placate the kids.
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on March 15, 2004
It's great that Americans are finally discovering the dazzling animation of Japanese genius Hayao Miyazaki (whose film "Spirited Away" won the award for Best Animated Film in 2003), and that Disney has started to release excellent DVD editions of his films with both Japanese and English language options. Miyazaki's 1989 film "Kiki's Delivery Service" ("Majo no takkyubin" in Japanese; literally "Witch's Express Mail") is his most easily accessible and the best place to start in watching his movies. "Kiki's Delivery Service" is an honest-to-goodness `family' film. Children will adore it, and adults will find themselves enchanted with its charm, delightful characters, and the sheer beauty of the animation. I once watched the film with a room of twenty and thirty year-olds, a few young children, and an 84 year-old woman, and everybody LOVED it and cheered the heroine on at the end. Simply put, there are few films out there that are as loveable and likable as this.
In terms of story, it's an odd film: there's not much in the way of `plot.' The film depends strongly on its heroine and the way she learns from the world and the people around her as she grows up. Kiki is a thirteen-year-old witch in training who leaves her home to start her required period of living on her own to discover her talents. Kiki and her cat sidekick Jiji jet out on her broom to a city (vaguely European, with traces of Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam) and settle down at a friendly baker's shop, where Kiki establishes her own broom-powered delivery service (look out, Fed-Ex!). The story follows her troubles and joys, such as her friendship with a local boy inventor Tombo, her meeting with nature-loving artist Ursula, the tricks and difficulties of making deliveries, and the possible loss of her powers when she starts to lose belief in herself. It all climaxes in a thrilling action sequence that Superman would be proud of.
The movie leaps from wonderful sequence to wonderful sequence: Kiki's passionate farewell to her parents, her first flight over the city, Tombo's wild ride on his experimental flying bike, a dangerous flight through a flock of birds, the action-packed finale, and the many terrific meetings between Kiki and other charming characters. Watching Kiki learn and grow will have an affect on children young and old: everybody can take something away from the lessons Kiki learns about herself. And of course, the animation is dazzling; not only the sweeping visuals, but the nuances of the characters' expressions and movements.
The DVD offers the film in English and Japanese (oh, and Spanish too). If you watch the film in Japanese, you have the choice to watch it with two different sets of subtitles. One set is a literal translation of the Japanese script. The second are taken directly from the English version, and therefore have a distinctly "American" feel to them. I recommend when watching the Japanese version to stick with the literal subtitles. Since the English dub of the film often adds extra lines to characters (especially Jiji), it can be confusing to see subtitles pop up when nobody is speaking.
The Americanized dubbed version, however, is fantastic as well, and done with great respect and intelligence. The voice cast is superb: Kirsten Dunst as Kiki, Janeane Garofola as Ursula, and Debbie Reynolds as sweet old Miss Dora. But the scene-stealer is the late Phil Hartman as Kiki's smart-aleck cat companion, Jiji. Hartman is hysterical in every scene, totally nailing down the character, and his performance is a bittersweet reminder of what a great comedian we lost with his premature death. If you're going to watch the film with children or a large, general group of people, stick with the English version. It's quite an achievement, and just as enjoyable as the Japanese version.
There are some extras, although a lot less than you would expect for a 2-DVD set. John Lassiter (director of "Toy Story") introduces the film, and there's a short documentary about the English language actors. The second disc contains the whole film in storyboard and rough sketch form: this will really only be of interest to animators and hardcore Miyazaki fans.
Every family should have "Kiki's Delivery" service in their library, although the adults may find themselves returning to it as much as the children; and it's a great introduction to Miyazaki. Make sure you also watch "Castle in the Sky," "Spirited Away," and "Princess Mononoke" (the last one isn't really for kids, however).
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on November 17, 1998
When this movie came out on video, I had heard that it was an animated classic from Japan. Since I had just recently gotten into anime, I decided to check it out. What I wound up seeing would turn out to be one of my favorite films of all time (and, believe me, that's no small order!)! The film is about a young witch-in-training (Kiki) who goes out into the world to learn her craft. Along the way, with the help of her trusty black cat (Jiji) and the many people she meets, Kiki learns that magic comes from the heart. The animation on this production is, in my opinion, simply the best there is, even compared to more modern, domestic releases. The English dub for this version (Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, et al.) is incredible. And, most important, the story is absolutely PERFECT for anyone; the child, the child-at-heart, the full grownup, you name it! Since I first saw this film, I've been recommending "Kiki's Delivery Service" to just about everyone I know; even my parents (I think Mom is leaning towards my side!). This is my first introduction to the works of Studio Ghibli and of director Hayao Miyazaki; more of their creations are supposed to be released in the future, including a theatrical release of "Princess Mononoke" next year. If you get the idea that I'm all set for these to come out, YOU'RE RIGHT! In the meantime, "Kiki's Delivery Service" is way, WAY Up There on my play list!
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on June 28, 2003
Hayao Miyazaki (better known in America for "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away") produced "Kiki's Delivery Service" before either of those films, and by their standards, it might seem tame. However, I rank this at the top of the list of children's films I have seen (a long list, with a 3 year old!), for a myriad of reasons. It is appropriate for even the youngest kids, although its gorgeous animation style and well-paced story will keep adults intrigued as well.
The 13 year old witch Kiki must, in accordance with tradition, set out for a year on her own to hone a special witching skill. She departs her hometown and her family with her best friend, the traditional black cat Jiji, and finds herself in a seaside city that is reminiscent of both Europe and Japan. This acultural locale is just the first of dozens of breathtaking imaginative achievements; Kiki faces trials along the way that are neither fantastical nor pedestrian. If you accept Miyazaki's universe at its face value, nothing that happens in the film seems the least bit unlikely.
Owning the film on DVD really opened my eyes - both to the incredible detail in the art, and to the original film as compared to its Disney-produced American version. Kirsten Dunst and Phil Hartman provide the voices of Kiki and Jiji in the American version, and they both do extremely well - but the "traveler and sidekick" Disney formula has been applied to something where it did not originally exist! I saw the film first on the Disney channel and thoroughly enjoyed Hartman's performance as the somewhat neurotic Jiji. However, the DVD contains the original Japanese language track with English subtitles, and the Jiji of Miyazaki's film is a calm and sparingly-employed counterfoil to Kiki's experiences. Note how rarely Jiji is in the frame when Hartman is speaking, or the occasional cases where Jiji speaks but his mouth does not move - all additions of Disney.
One of the most beautiful things about this film in its original version is its willingness to be silent - to be about a young girl and her cat, alone in a new place, without a constant patter of dialogue. They are allowed to simply "be". Later adaptations of Miyazaki's work for American audiences have been more respectful of this element of his stories. Finally, with this DVD, we have the opportunity to see Kiki as she was meant to be seen.
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on February 26, 2002
As a fan of Japanese animation in general, I own alot of anime movies that are not child friendly. Being the mother of 2, I wanted to find an anime that would expose my children to the beauty and wonder of Japanese style animation, but with a story that had appropriate content for thier ages. Kiki's Delivery Service does that.
It's a wonderful story about a young girl who happens to be a witch. It's about how she must discover herself, through the kindness of others, and find that her strength and confidence come from within, not from her magic.
This is a truely magical story, with stunning animation. If you've never seen the original Japanese version, you won't miss anything. Having never seen the original version, my children and I have fallen in love with this movie, and never tire of watching it. And as an added bonus, unlike American made animated flicks which only give you an hour and a half, Kiki's Delivery Service is a full two hours of quality entertainment!
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on September 22, 2014
:( I had an original copy of this movie and I bought this to replace it.....little did I know they changed a lot of the songs!!!! ugh it kinda ruins the movie and they took out a lot of sound affects........its really annoying.....
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on November 16, 2001
This classic animated film is the kind of movie that will be treasured for years to come by the whole family. I was enchanted by it's fun-loving, kind-hearted spirit and outstanding animation. The plot of this film revolves around the coming-of-age of a young girl witch named "Kiki", who flies away from her parents to make a go of making a living in a village far from her home.
With only her pet cat coming with her, Kiki's adventure provides girls and boys with a positive message about having confidence in oneself. Kiki meets new friends when she arrives in her new town where she must figure out what kind of work she can do that people need. She creates a magical delivery service (bringing things fast by broom), and faces the kind of real-life ups and downs we can all relate to. Best of all, Kiki finds out that people love her for just for who she is, even when she's not feeling her best.
The cinematography in this film is first-rate, and the easy-going pace of the story is a real treat. There aren't any real villains in this film, and so watching this movie is a lot like taking a relaxing vacation.
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on February 9, 2003
Okay I'll admit it. I've never really been into anime. Although I recognize it as a good form of art and I often admire some of the illustrations I've seen, it's just never been my thing. TV series such as Pokemon just make me roll my eyes and I find the more adult-oriented programs to be a bit too violent. Since I had never really liked the anime I've been exposed to, I thought that I wouldn't be into any kind of anime. Kiki's delivery service proved this little theory wrong.
Kiki is a witch and like all witches, at 13 she decides to leave home and create a life for herself using her magic. Unfortunately things don't go as smoothly as she plans. When it comes to flying on her broom she's not too good at landings and takeoffs. People aren't all that accepting of witches away from home. And she doesn't have any real special talents as a witch, besides of course flying. Still she had her little black cat Jiji, are going to hit it big. She comes up with the idea of creating a delivery service where she will fly deliveries on her broom. This of course is easier said then done. And as she fumbles through her delivers Kiki faces other problems. She's dealing with her first crush on a unique boy named Tombo that lives in the city she's come to. And she's also dealing with the fact that, as a witch, she doesn't really fit in with the rest of the kids her age. What will happen to Kiki?
I've always been a fan of kids movies and I found Kiki's delivery service to be great. The idea is original and I wouldn't be surprised if it was one of the things that inspired JK Rowling to create the wizard phenomenon, Quidditch. The characters are all very amusing, especially Jiji the black cat. I'm not sure if I will ever really get into anime, like I said it's not really my thing, but I wouldn't say no to seeing another film by this talented director Hayao Miyazaki. I would recommend this book to movie goers of any age and also to people who are into anime, and people who, like me, aren't really. It's a five star movie!
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on January 3, 2015
DO NOT BUY the Disney release of this movie. Try to find the old 2003 release.

Disney failed to quality control check their 2013 DVD release of Kiki's Delivery Service.

Despite the issues present in the DVD version, Disney has failed to resolve the issues and again did not perform a quality check on the new Blu-ray release from November 2014.

Disney remastered the audio track to change some dialog and restore the original Japanese music/songs (stripping out songs by Sydney Forest). In doing so, some of the characters voices do not have the left and right channels synced properly anymore - particularly when it's a high pitched voice or the character is shouting loudly.


Moreover, it seems Disney just doesn't understand the Studio Ghibli films. Kiki's Delivery Service is a coming-of-age story, which is symbolized by Kiki's inability to hear her cat speak toward the end of the film. In Disney's release, there's a line of dialog added to the end of the film which suggest that Kiki can still hear her cat - negating the symbol of her (Kiki's) character growth.


Find some version, any version, other than Disney's versions.
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