KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE  (Majo no takkyŻbin)

Region 2 (UK) Edition  -  Reviewed by Andy Davidson

Director:  Hayao Miyazaki

Starring the voices of:  Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garafolo, Phil Hartman

THE FILM

The latest release in Optimumís Studio Ghibli Collection is the 1989 film, Kikiís Delivery Service. Based on the book by Eiko Kadono, Kikiís Delivery Service tells the story of Kiki, a young witch who is taking her first steps into the adult world.

At age 13, all witches must leave home and spend a year in a city or town so that they can learn their trade. Kiki and her faithful cat Jiji bid a fond farewell to her friends and family and set out to find a place where the young witch can set up shop and begin mastering her skills. Itís a typical coming of age film, following Kikiís first attempts at life on her own, being a stranger in a new town and slowly gaining confidence. Of course, given the Miyazaki treatment, the story becomes so much more. Kikiís Delivery Service bears the typical Miyazaki characteristics Ė a young female protagonist, a fixation with flight in its many forms, overcoming isolation and ultimately gaining acceptance and recognition.

Like all Studio Ghibli films, Kikiís Delivery Service is so much more than the sum of its parts; this is not just the story of a clumsy-but-lovable young girl trying to make it in the big, wide world. Yes, there are the usual hi-jinks youíd expect (this is a childrenís film, after all) but this is more than the typical Hollywood coming of age film. Unlike so many films aimed at young audiences, there is a tremendous depth to both the story and the characters which make it accessible to all ages. Thereís plenty of action for the youngsters, but all the characters are superbly realised and given time to grow. In a film which is all about growing and gaining independence, Kikiís journey is entirely captivating; her progression from naÔve young girl to beloved local celebrity is credible and utterly charming. Thereís something here for everyone.

Kikiís Delivery Service bears another hallmark of Studio Ghibli in that it is absolutely stunning to look at. The characters, the locations, the set-pieces are all drawn with incredible attention to detail and accompanied by Joe Hisaishiís soundtrack this makes for a thoroughly satisfying film on every level.

While Kikiís Delivery Service is very much aimed at the younger end of the audience, the maturity of the emotions it displays and the lavish and intricate design give it far wider appeal.

THE DVD

Like other Optimum releases in the series, Kikiís Delivery Service is a single disc which brings together many of the best elements of the various releases of the film from around the world. Thereís an interesting, but in no way comprehensive selection of extras contained in a lavish and well-prepared special edition.

Picture:
The film is presented in a near approximation of its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The print appears to be restored, most likely it is the same as was used by Disney in their US edition. The picture is clear and well-presented, although the colours do appear slightly light when compared with the original Japanese R2 release.

Sound:
The film can be viewed in its original Japanese, with English subtitles and optional captions for the hard of hearing. There is also an excellent English dub of the film, originally produced for the Disney VHS release of the film back in 1998 and starring Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garafolo and the late Phil Hartman.

Both audio presentations are in Dolby Digital 2.0 (at 224kbps).

As with Optimumís other Ghibli releases, the English subtitles and captions appear in garish yellow over the picture itself and can prove quite distracting.

Menus:
The opening menu screens feature an animated Kiki flying over her new home with some bizarrely animated clouds lingering in the background. The menu itself appears rather blurred.
Menu screens for the disc can be found here.

BONUS MATERIAL

Ursulaís Painting (2m 27s)
Kikiís mentor in the film, Ursula, is an artist. In a somewhat bizarre extra, we get to see the painting Ursula was working on during Kikiís Delivery Service, accompanied by Joe Hisaishiís music.

Original Trailers (7m 30s)
The five original trailers for Kikiís Delivery Service are included, together with English subtitles. Unlike earlier releases, the subtitles can be switched off.

Storyboards (142m)
The entire film can be viewed in storyboard form. Originally presented for the Japanese DVD release, the ďAngleĒ button on your remote allows the viewer to alternate between Miyazakiís beautiful original art and the finished film.

Studio Ghibli Collection Trailer (10m 45s)
To give viewers a flavour of the other Ghibli Masterpieces available or coming available, Optimum have included a compilation of trailers for the key films in the collection. While the quality of this trailer is less pleasing than the material on offer elsewhere on the disc, it is nevertheless a tantalising glimpse of Studio Ghibliís wider body of work.

SUMMARY

Aimed squarely at younger audiences, Kikiís Delivery Service is a charming film which takes a simple story and weaves it into something which appeals in equal measure to adults and children, alike.

Optimum have prepared a solid release of this classic although the extras are somewhat limited. The trailers and storyboards are of course superb, but there are a couple of items which are strangely absent, notably the introduction by John Lasseter (Pixarís founder and the man responsible for bringing Ghibli to Western audiences) and the Behind the Voices featurette, both of which feature on the R1 release. However, the omission of these, coupled with the inclusion of the superfluous Ursulaís Painting feature are the only negative in what is overall a wonderfully presented edition of a truly beautiful film.


Related reviews:

The Studio Ghibli Collection

Laputa - Castle in the Sky

Kiki's Delivery Service

My Neighbour Totoro

Pom Poko

Porco Rosso

DVD reviewed: February 2006

 

Site content copyright © J.A.Knott - 2002-2006