For this week’s “Miyazaki Monday”, the focus will be on another classic film from Hayao Miyazaki. That film is Kiki’s Delivery Service.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is based on the 1985 novel of the same name written by Eiko Kadono. It focuses on the character of Kiki, a young teenage witch. As part of her training to be a witch, Kiki has to move to a city and live on her own for a year. So when she turned 13, she headed off to the big city along with her talking cat Jiji. The two ended up in Koriko. She settles in and finds a job at Gütiokipänja Bakery making deliveries (hence the title of the novel and the film). She has one power as a witch and that is her ability to fly a broom….although she’s still trying to get the hang of it.
Kiki has to handle dealing with issues of being an adolescent and growing up along with living in a new city and her witch training. She also has a young boy who has strong feeling for her named Tombo. He is big into aviation as well. The film is in some ways a coming of age story for Kiki as she has to learn and grow up and find herself.
The film was released in Japan on July 22, 1989. It ended up being the highest grossing film in Japan that year which speaks to the continued growth of influence by Miyazaki in Japan. The first English dubbing was done by Streamline Pictures in the early 1990s mainly for international flights for Japan Airlines (similar to what happened with My Neighbor Totoro). Kiki’s Delivery Service was the first Studio Ghibli film that Disney received distribution rights for in the States. They recorded the English dub in 1997 and got it’s theatrical debut at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 23, 1998 and debuted on home video on March 16, 1999. The voice actors included Kirsten Dunst, Matthew Lawrence, Brad Garrett, Debbie Reynolds, Janeane Garofalo and Phil Hartman. This film was the last voice acting performance of Hartman.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is the only Hayao Miyazaki film that he wrote, produced and directed. It is at this time unfortunately one of several of his films that has not been released on Blu-Ray (it is available on DVD). It’s another film in the long line of successful films that Miyazaki has made in his illustrious career.