Kiki is Delightful
It would be fair to say that many of Hayao Miyazaki's animes have a strong fantasy element and with a storyline which features a 13 year old witch leaving home there is a sense of fantasy to "Kiki's Delivery Service". But in many ways this isn't the strong fantasy anime that you might expect, in fact whilst we follow Kiki as she leaves home for a year of independent living there is very little fantasy. Instead we have a tale about the ups and downs of becoming independent and what a charming tale it is, drawing us into the world of Kiki and the delivery service she starts as she uses her talent for flying to her best advantage. In many ways "Kiki's Delivery Service" is one of Miyakaki's more straight forward animes not only in the simplicity of the storyline and the lack of imaginative fantasy but also in design with beautiful yet not spell binding animations.
As a thirteen year old witch it is time for young Kiki to leave home and go and live by herself for a year as part of her witch's training and Kiki has big plans for her year away from her family. But having arrived in a seaside town with her talking cat Jiji, Kiki soon discovers that life is not going to be as easy as she imagined. But the determined young Kiki uses her flying skills and imagination to make it in the real world, with a little help from some people she befriends along the way.
So as already alluded to "Kiki's Delivery Service" is a far more straight forward anime with a simple storyline about the difficulties of moving away from home. We watch as the confident Kiki leaves her family and friends and moves to a big town by the sea where she soon discovers that things are not going to go exactly she as she planned. And so we watch as she befriends a baker who takes her in and then starts a delivery service, one which like moving to the new town doesn't go as smooth as she imagined. It goes on with various mishaps causing Kiki to learn some harsh lessons whilst she makes friends who help lift her up when she is down. In many ways this is anime which speaks to teens who are on the verge of adulthood rather than younger children but it works and I am not ashamed to say it as someone who is facing 40 not before too long this tale drew me in.
Because "Kiki's Delivery Service" is more straight forwards it doesn't have that strong fantasy element which you sort of expect. There are no imaginative creatures, with the exception of a comical talking black cat and the actual locations feel like an amalgamation of European cities with high clock towers, bridges and trams. It's not a criticism as this lack of fantasy works and whilst his has a knock on effect that there are no stunning drawings of imaginative buildings the animation is still beautiful and watching it now makes a pleasant change from all the CGI animations which fill the big screen.
But whilst "Kiki's Delivery Service" may not be the imaginative creation of say "My Neighbour Totoro" it still works and brings you in to the life of Kiki. It sound so daft to say this of animation but you do end up feeling for Kiki when life doesn't go her way and even more so when she starts to lose her magic abilities. But you get warmth from the way she makes friends and you can really appreciate what Miyazaki was trying to achieve with this simple but beautiful tale.
What this all boils down to is that "Kiki's Delivery Service" is one of Miyazaki's more straightforward animes and doesn't feature the imaginative fantasy side which you expect. But that doesn't mean it's a bad movie in fact "Kiki's Delivery Service" is as charming as ever with the simple tale of Kiki experiencing the ups and downs of life for the first time.