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Majo no Takkyubin
(Kiki's Delivery Service)
 
 

 

Reviews & Articles

Contents

News articles1

5). Billboard Magazine, May 2, 1998
6).
Yahoo, May 18, 1998
7).
Kidscreen Retail, May, 1998
8).
Consumer Retailer Magasine, June 29, 1998
9).
Entertainment Weekly, August 7, 1998
10).
Daily News, August 4, 1998
11).
Village Voice, September 2, 1998
12).
Rafu Shimpo, August 31, 1998

 

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News Articles

5). Billboard Magazine

May 2, 1998

page 69

Disney Looks To Expand Mainstream Presence Of Japan's Anime

Anne Sherber

NEW YORK -- After years during which publicity about Japanimationfar exceeded its sales, the cartoon genre is poised for a real growthspurt.

Last summer, an _anime_ feature on DVD, Manga Entertainment's "GhostIn The Shell," flew through PolyGram Video's distribution network toreach the top of Billboard's sales chart. Major suppliers have seen begun releasing anime titles on DVD.

Now the category has caught the attention of huge Japanese toymakerBandai, which has launched a home video division and plans to enterthe Japanimation market.

And there's the Disney factor. Michael Johnson, president of Disney'sBuena Vista Home Entertainment, says the studio spent four yearspursuing Japanese moviemaker Ghibli, as well as the head of itsanimation division, Hayao Miyazaki, called by some "the Walt Disneyof Japan."

The end result: Disney is Ghibli's anime representative in the U.S.Disney also gets first look at any of Ghibli's live-action productbrought here.

Plans stretch beyond Japanimation. Johnson says Buena Vista is workingclosely with Disney's Miramax subsidiary to release a Ghibli title,"Mononoke Hime," in theaters this summer. Miramax is also consideringa remake of Ghibli's "Shall We Dance?," an American arthouse hit.

But the first video release, which arrives Sept. 1, is aimed atcarving a new foothold in the anime trade. Ghibli's "Kiki's DeliveryService," a cartoon for young audiences, has been dubbed into Englishusing the voices of actors Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, DebbieReynolds, Janeane Garofalo, and Matthew Lawrence. Another cast isbeing assembled for "Castle In The Say," scheduled for release nextyear, Johnson says.

Disney is springing for high-profile talent to bring Ghibli'sJapanimation home to Americans, but without altering the plot. Johnson says, "One of the understandings that we have with them is that theoriginal story lines are maintained."

Buena Vista will treat lightly in a market that has had a reputationfor striking graphics -- and strong violence and sexual content. Thestudio plans to market its titles in their own display to keep them out of anime sections in video stores. In fact, Buena Vista has beenreluctant to identify the Ghibli product as anime."

Anime is one of those strange, generic words," says Johnson. "Thisis not typical, 24-frames-per-second anime with static backgrounds.These films have kinetic backgrounds and are more subtle in theirlook." Johnson maintains that Buena Vista will put the full force ofthe company behind the Ghibli releases.

Simultaneously, it hopes to educate consumers about Japanimation."We'll use the press, point-of-purchase, and our distribution system,"he adds. "We're working with a lot of synergy, which means we'llget it broadcast on some [sic] our networks, including the DisneyChannel."

The deep pockets of Disney and Bandai are hard to beat. However,unfazed anime executives say they welcome the attention that is boundto follow. "I don't [sic] they'd be coming into the market if theydidn't think that it was a growing market," says Mike Pascuzzi,director of sales for Central Park Media. "As they make their presencefelt, they'll help to expand the marketplace."

Buena Vista's reticence about the word "anime" is understandable.Vintage, made-in-Japan TV shows, such as "Speed Racer" and "Astro Boy," notwithstanding, most Japanimation isn't geared for kids.

Says Kara Redmond, director of marketing of the American Anime labelfor Urban Vision in Los Angeles, "There is every single genre ofanime product available that you might find on television." And muchof it would require V-chip.

The difference is that most retailers carrying anime don't categorizethe titles on store shelves to identify content. They rely on the18-25 males who are the prime consumers of Japanimation, in videoand comic books. Children are often left out of the mix. "We have toeducate the buyers in the stores," says Redmond.

This cult status derives from anime's beginnings. When Central Parkbegan distributing titles seven years ago, recalls Pascuzzi, "therewas very little competition. It was still pretty much an undergroundmarket, with a lot of bootleg product."

A lot has changed since, say the large music and video retailers thatcater to Japanimation fans. "Anime is very strong," notes John Souza,video buyer for retailer Trans World Entertainment in Latham, N.Y."It's a bigger category than exercise or sports."

Anime suppliers are taking lessons from their mainstream cousins onhow to build revenue. While Japanimation is almost always exclusivelypriced to sell, Central Park has announced a rental-like depth-of-copyprogram that rewards retailers that meet goals with free goods.

Hollywood world approve Manga's step into new technology. Manga saysit's preparing a DVD version that takes full advantage of the format.

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6). Yahoo

May 18, 1998

Company Press Release

ADVISORY/Buena Vista Home Entertainment Presents the Acclaimed Japanese Animated Film: Hayao Miyazaki's "Kiki's Delivery Service"

First Title in International "Animation Celebration" Series Premieres May 23 at the Seattle International Film Festival

--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)-- Re-Voiced by All-Star Cast Including Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Matthew Lawrence, Debbie Reynolds and Janeane Garofalo

Hayao Miyazaki's (dubbed ``the Walt Disney of Japan'') enchanting and highly celebrated No. 1 box office smash hit, ``Kiki's Delivery Service,'' the delightful, coming-of-age tale of a young witch named Kiki, makes its worldwide debut at the Seattle International Film Festival, on May 23 in its all new, English-dubbed version.

Following this honor, ``Kiki's Delivery Service'' will appear at other distinguished festivals around the country, including the Florida International Film Festival and the Nashville Independent Film Festival, both on June 13, among others, before its exclusive home video release on September 1 from Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

The first in a series of animated films to be released on video by BVHE as part of its international ``Animation Celebration,'' through which some of the world's greatest masterpieces of animation will be brought to international audiences for the first time, ``Kiki's Delivery Service'' is considered to be a modern classic in Japan.

Adhering to its exceptionally high standards, the division has gone to considerable expense to dub ``Kiki's Delivery Service'' for English-speaking audiences so that millions more can share in the experience.

One of the most highly regarded animated family films of all time, ``Kiki's Delivery Service'' is the 1989 creation of legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki, whose films are brilliantly imbued with compelling characters, intricate plots and stunning animation.

A wonderous tale filled with magical and heartwarming adventures, ``Kiki's Delivery Service'' tells the story of Kiki, who, at age 13, must leave home and put her extraordinary flying skills to work by serving a new community for one year.

Taken in by a wonderful lady baker, Kiki launches her special delivery service, magically conveying pastries and other packages throughout the town. In so doing, she comes face-to-face with the meaning of her independence, inner strength and sense of self-reliance.

Incorporating a celebrity vocal ensemble of high-flying proportions, the newly-dubbed ``Kiki's Delivery Service'' features Hollywood teenage sensation Kirsten Dunst (``Jumanji,'' ``Little Women'') as the voice of the bright, independent young Kiki; funny-man Phil Hartman (TV's ``Newsradio''; Kiki's hilarious black cat Jiji, and Matthew Lawrence (``Mrs. Doubtfire,'' TV's ``Boy Meets World'') as her inventive and energetic friend, Tombo.

Adding additional ``spirit'' to the all-star cast are Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds (``Mother'') as the caring grandmother figure, Madame, and comedienne Janeane Garofalo (``The Truth About Cats & Dogs'') as Kiki's quirky artist friend, Ursula.

``Kiki's Delivery Service'' will be available in VHS and CLV laserdisc formats in digitally-mastered Hi-Fi stereo sound and will be closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired. Rated ``G'' by the Motion Picture Association of America, ``Kiki's Delivery Service'' has an approximate running time of 104 minutes.

A part of The Walt Disney Co. [NYSE:DIS - news], Buena Vista Home Entertainment has been the recognized industry leader for 10 consecutive years.

NOTE: For review cassettes or artwork, please call 818/295-4609.

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7). Kidscreen Retail

May, 1998

Buena Vista announces launch date for first Miyazaki vid title

         _Kiki's Delivery Service_, and extremely popular children's animated feature created by Japanese anime master Hayao Miyazaki in 1989, is due to be released in English for North American video sell-through in September by Buena Vista Home Entertainment.  Dubbed versions will roll out worldwide later in the year.

         The release of _Kiki_ is the second installment in a worldwide distribution deal signed in 1996 between The Walt Disney Company and Tokuma Shoten Publishing for Miyazaki's nine-title library.  The first property to be released under the deal was the adult-oriented animated feature film _Princess Mononoke_, which was distributed theatrically last year by Disney's Miramax unit. The top-grossing domestic film in Japan in 1989, _Kiki's Delivery Service_ centers on the coming of age of a teenaged witch who must leave home and serve the community in order to preserve her magcial skills.  Set in an ocean-side village that resembles old world Europe, the story espouses the values of independence and self-reliance.

         "It's a wonderful story for young girls," says Michael Johnson, president of Buena Vista Home Entertainment Worldwide, who adds that test screenings of _Kiki_ have been particularly well recieved by girls age six to 14.

         Permitting that the works to come out of Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli appeal to more divergent audience demographic than that traditionally associated with Disney properties, Johnson says Buena Vista viewed the distribution deal "as a way to enhance our product line and create a relationship with somebody who is a real powerhouse in Japan."

         Miyazaki, a pioneer of Japanese anime who is often compared favorably to Walt Disney himself, does not display as darkly violent and overtly sexual themes in his work as to his national counterparts.  Still, Buena Vista is doing its best to form a line of distinction between Miyazaki's and other forms of anime, which in one extreme case has been blamed for causing children to experience convulsions.

         "You'll never hear the word 'anime' attached to Miyazaki's stuff around here," says Johnson, adding that _Kiki_ "has a much deeper texture to it, a higher visual quality; it's much brighter than most anime.  Frankly, it's more like Disney than any other type of Japanese animation."

         Although Disney has promised to maintain the English adaptations of Miyazaki's work as true to the originals as possible, _Kiki_ has been "localized" for North American audiences through the addition of English voices and an expanded musical score, according to Johnson.

         The English voice of Kiki was provided by Kirsten Dunst, who starred in _Jumanji_ and _Interview With the Vampire_, while other voice talent included Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman and Debbie Reynolds.

         Admitting to having a strong personal appreciation for Miyazaki's work, Johnson says he thinks there will be a healthy worldwide demand for _Kiki_ in the video sell-through market.  "It's not going to sell 10 million units," he proffers, "but I'd be happy with half of that.  A good story is a good story.  So the opportunity for it to travel might be a little wider than anyone ever expected.

         "We're going to use festivals to build up the Miyazaki name.  We're looking at cross-character merchandizing, and there may be some broadcast potential for it within The Walt Disney Company, although we're not positive yet whether it will be on the Disney Channel or ABC," he says.

         As for how merchandising will shape up for _Kiki_, Johnson says discussions have been limited to the publishing area so far.  "We'll probably have to establish the film and the character first, and then the consumer products will come in behind it," he says.

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8). Consumer Retailer Magazine

June 29, 1998

'Upcoming VHS Releases'

Kiki's Delivery Service

Buena Vista

Highly regarded animation director Hayao Miyazaki crafted this delightfultale of Kiki, a 13-year-old witch-in-training, who learns the value offriendship, trust and hard work. While animated in the familiar Japanesestyle, Kiki's Delivery Service doesn't have the sex and violence of otheranime titles, and it's a fun outing for the whole family.

Order: 7/21, Street: 9/1, SRP: $19.95

 

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9).Entertainment Weekly

August 7, 1998

n444 p81(1)

CHILDREN'S HOUR. (video releases)

A slew of high-profile kids' tapes hit shelves this month and next--including Disney's made-for-video Pocahontas sequel, straight-to-tape Teletubbies cassettes, a Scooby-Doo video feature, and Disney's first venture with leading Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki's Delivery Service, the English-language version of which features the voices of Kirsten Dunst and Phil Hartman. "Video consumption picks up dramatically after summer vacation," Disney senior VP of marketing Bob Chapek notes, a truth increasingly driven by back-to-school buying at groceries and mega-marts. Besides, says Columbia TriStar exec VP Paul Culberg, "if you wait until Thanksgiving, you're fighting with Armageddon."

 

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10). Daily News

August 4, 1998
New York Now | Movies

Coming Toon, Japan's Top Anime Films

Nine of master Hiyao Miyazaki's features will be released here

By LEWIS BEALE
Daily News Staff Writer

He's the Walt Disney of Japanese animation, a force whose films routinely outgross movies like "Aladdin" at the Nipponese box office. Now he's coming to America.

Nine feature films by Hiyao Miyazaki, Japan's foremost animator, were recently purchased by Disney. Eight will be released on video by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Disney's video arm, and one will make it to theaters later next year.

The first release, debuting Sept. 1, is "Kiki's Delivery Service," the story of a 13-year-old witch who uses her flying skills to open a delivery business. It was a No. 1 smash in Japan.

"Princess Mononoke,"a 14th-century fable involving a battle between gods and man, will be theatrically distributed next year by Disney subsidiary Miramax. The film, whose English-language version will feature the voices of Gillian Anderson, Claire Danes and Minnie Driver, has earned $150 million in Japan — it is the second-highest-grossing film in that country's history, topped only by "Titanic."

"Disney is picking up on [Japanese animation] because they think it's the next stage in animation around the world," says Bruce Apar of Video Business Magazine.

Compared to Disney's output, Miyazaki's work is leisurely paced ("Mononoke" runs 133 minutes — an epic length by animation standards), more story driven and nonmusical. Many films also have a distinct ecological subtext.

"There's an epic nature to [Miyazaki's] stories, but also a certain naivetand innocence," says Scott Martin, Miramax' executive in charge of production for "Princess Mononoke."

Miyazaki's work is barely known outside Japan.

One film, "My Neighbor Totoro," about two girls who are befriended by a mythical creature, opened here theatrically in 1993 and sold more than 500,000 cassettes since it was released on home video the following year.

But though Miyazaki has been courted by other foreign distributors — including Fox and Warner Bros. — he has refused in the past to license his films for fear they would be cut or altered.

"We have not done anything to change these films but dub them. We have added some new songs, but we have remained true to the original," says Michael Johnson, worldwide president of BVHE.

Johnson admits Miyazaki's work may initially appeal to a niche audience — one familiar with anime (Japanese animation). But, he says, "we're going to try to go beyond that audience here. Anime . . . is about cutting-edge humor, violence, sexual overtones. None of that exists in the Miyazaki product. [We will be] taking it out of the anime category by packaging it differently, presenting it differently to the public."

Will this approach work? Bruce Apar feels "Disney is looking for a cataclysmic change in the market, where [Japanese animation] becomes the really hip thing."

Says David Wharff of West Coast Entertainment, one of America's largest video chains: "It seems like they're not really pushing the title to the industry that much right now. ['Kiki's'] will be a moderate hit. It won't be a 'Lion King' that [ships] 25 million copies, but it can do something like 'Totoro,' which is a consistent seller."

Johnson is equally cautious. His company plans to release a Miyazaki title every six months, but those plans are dependent on how well "Kiki" does.

"It's a build philosophy," he says. "We hope people discover this, and retailers are patient enough to stay with this product."

 

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11). Village Voice

September 2, 1998


Tooning In

Disney Imports a Japanese Auteur-Animator

by Elisabeth Vincentelli


Disney is not known for heralding directorial authorship, least of all when it comes to animation: try naming the director of The Little Mermaid or even a classic like Dumbo. It's the corporate brand name that sells the movies. And yet, last year, the company acquired the rights to distribute the entire oeuvre of Hayao Miyazaki, Japan's premier auteur-animator. Miramax will release the director's latest film, Princess Mononoke, in theaters next year (the movie is second only to Titanic as Japan's all-time box office champ); the remaining titles will go straight to video in brand-new dubbed versions, starting with this week's release of 1989's Kiki's Delivery Service.

Born in 1941, Miyazaki is a beloved icon in his home country--though he's called "the Disney of Japan," he's been vocal about his distate of Disney movies. After working on various TV series, he made his directorial feature debut in 1979 with Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, a breathless caper complete with secret stairways, a captive princess, and Indiana Jones-like hijinks. Miyazaki's artistic breakthrough came in 1984's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, whose title character, the first of the director's trademark headstrong heroines, leads her village in a battle for ecological survival. In 1986's Laputa--Castle in the Sky, slated for video release next year, a young girl fights off the factions lusting after her "levitation stone" (flight is a Miyazaki obsession, and there are airborne scenes in all his movies).

My Neighbor Totoro (1988; Fox Video, 1993) may be the director's best-known film. Two young sisters meet a mythical forest creature who helps them cope with their ailing mother's absence. Buoyed by Joe Hisaishi's imaginative score (he also works with Takeshi Kitano), Totoro neatly encapsulates Miyazaki's main obsessions: the need for balance between man and nature, and the trials of spiritual and moral development.

Though Miyazaki can orchestrate impressively precise action scenes (Kiki's arrival in the city provokes chaos in the streets; 1992's philosophical adventure movie, Porco Rosso, includes magnificent aerial dogfights), his movies usually unfurl at a leisurely pace. The director allows for reverie and for a sense of wonder to bloom. Humor, always present, tends to be gentle slapstick, unobtrusively punctuating an otherwise contemplative rhythm.

Drawing thousands of each movie's animation cells himself, Miyazaki composes every shot with a painter's eye. Influenced by Jonathan Swift (Laputa--Castle in the Sky is named after a floating island in Gulliver's Travels), Jules Verne, and Lewis Carroll, he smoothly integrates the fantastical and the mundane. Nobody gets crushed by falling pianos in Miyazaki's movies (he finds Disney too violent), but cats shaped like buses roam the countryside. A humanist concerned with rites of passage and periods of transition, Miyazaki avoids cheap moral lessons and the safe distance of cynical wisecracks. Being marketed by Disney, in fact, might be the greatest irony in the career of a director who can appeal equally to four-year-olds and admirers of Yasujiro Ozu.

 

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12). The Rafu Shimpo

August 31, 1998

Anime Magic of Hayao Miyazaki Comes to America on Sept. 1

The animation film "Majo no Takkyubin" ("The Witch's Express Delivery") will be the first of a series of animation works by Japan's legendary director and producer Hayao Miyazaki to be introduced to the American public on Sept. 1.

Americans may be more familiar with another of Miyazaki's works, "My Neighbor Totoro", which was released in the United States in 1994.

"Majo no Takkyubin" which will be titled as "Kiki's Delivery Service" in America, is being released through a 1996 agreement with Disney and Miyazaki's company, Studio Ghibli in Japan. Disney has agreed to dub a number of Miyazaki's works in various languages and distribute them in the United States, Europe and South America.

The American release of "Majo no Takkyubin" will feature the voices of Kirsten Dunst ("Little Women," "Jumanji," "Small Soldiers") as Kiki; Matthew Lawrence ("Boy Meets Worlds" [sic]) as friend Tombo; Jeneane Garofalo ("The Truth About Cats and Dogs") as Ursula; Debbie Reynolds ("Singing in the Rain", "Mother") as Madame; and the late Phil Hartman ("Saturday Night Live," "The Simpsons") as Jiji, the sarcastic black cat.

Miyazaki's latest work, "Princess Mononoke" is scheduled to be released soon after "Majo no Takkyubin." "Mononoke," which debuted in 1997, broke the all-time box office record previously held by "E.T." It has since gone on to receive Japan's Academy Award for Best Film and was Japan's submission for an American Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Although Miyazaki may not be a household name in America, his works are well-known within America's entertainment industry, and he is credited with inspiring and influencing a number of American animators.

Among them include artists at Pixar which created "Toy Story"; Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft, directors of "Mulan"; and Hendel Butoy, who worked on "Rescuers Down Under."

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