Kiki's Delivery Service (Majo no takkyubin) (1989) (NR)

Animation 102 January 1, 1989
By Peter S. Scholtes
Though aimed at children and Japanimation buffs, this gentle, Disney-imported fairy tale is flighty, heartfelt, and weird enough to stick in your craw. The plot is very Japanese indeed, combining a tough message--"Grow up now so you can contribute your paid labor to society"--with the gentler theme of female empowerment. As it starts, a 13-year-old witch (voice by Kirsten Dunst) leaves home by broomstick to strike out on her own in some far-off community, and, after happening upon a mythical, Tin-Tin-like European town, she capitalizes on her flight skill by setting up a delivery business. But just as her sardonic cat (delightfully voiced by the late Phil Hartman) begins to enjoy his new surroundings, the girl experiences what Marx would call "alienation." Indeed, what kind of worker could fail to relate to a line like "Flying used to be fun until I started doing it for a living"? Directed by the "Japanese Disney," Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki's Delivery Service comes from the huge-mouth and giant-eye school of anime, but its backgrounds are gorgeously detailed, and its flying scenes are the most exciting of any film since Fly Away Home. (Peter S. Scholtes)
Hayao Miyazaki Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma, Kappei Yamaguchi, Keiko Toda, Mieko Nobusawa Hayao Miyazaki, Eiko Kadono Optimum Releasing

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