Majo no Takkyubin
(Kiki's Delivery Service)
|Reviews & Articles|
13). New York Times, February 1, 1998
14). Video Business, March 9, 1998
15). The Seattle Times, May 23, 1998
16). U-WIRE, June 24, 1998
17). Star-Tribune Newspaper, August 12, 1998
18). The Plain Dealer, August 22, 1998
19). The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 1, 1998
20). Los Angeles Daily News, September 2, 1998
21). The Seattle Times, September 3, 1998
22). "rough cut" (an entertainment program on TNT). September, 1998
23). The San Diego Union-Tribune, September 5, 1998
24). THE ORLANDO SENTINEL , September 9, 1998
25). Chicago Daily Herald, September 10, 1998
26). Decatur Daily, September 10, 1998
27). PRNewswire, October 6, 1998
28). Chicago Sun-Times, October 2, 1998
29). Houchi Sinbun, September 29, 1998 (Kiki sales figure mentioned)
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13). New York Times
February 1, 1998
At Mickey's House, a Quiet Welcome for Distant Cousins
By PETER M. NICHOLS
(Caption of an image) BRUTE STRENGTH: A
character from the movie ``Cybernetics Guardian,'' an example of
the popular form of Japanese animation known as anime. (Central
There's an air of anticipation in the land of anime, the risque and warlike corner of Japanese animation that has become hugely popular on video in the United States.
Amid characters like the genetically enhanced M.D. (Most Dangerous) Geist, liberator of the devastated planet of Jerra, and Doreimon, a scantily clad android from the 22nd century, a youngster named Kiki is about to arrive - representing, of all things, the forces of civic-minded youth.
Kiki, the young star of " Kiki ' s Delivery Service ," isn't from Jerra but from a magic kingdom many galaxies removed called the Walt Disney Co. The film, which will be released straight to video this year, represents Disney's cautious entry into Japanese animation.
But don't call the film anime. Disney officials are skirting the term as if it were radioactive. Kiki is actually a good witch who flies around doing good deeds. "A sweet, sweet story," said Tanya Moloney, a vice president of Buena Vista, Disney's video arm.
These days, anime refers strictly to "adult" Japanese animation, aimed primarily at young men. But those films make up only a small fraction of the enormous body of work turned out every year by Japanese animators. Recently, Disney secured the rights to " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " and seven other films by Hayao Miyazake [sic], one of Japan's more Disney-like animators.
Moloney emphasized that the company was not only giving a wide berth to racy, battle-ravaged anime but was entering, in a limited way, the family-oriented precincts of Japanese animation.
"We are merely recognizing the talents of one particular animator, Hayao Miyazake [sic]," she said.
Nevertheless, presented with coattails the length of Disney's, the purveyors of anime are hailing any degree of participation by the world's best-known giant of animation as an imprimatur of all things animated emanating from Japan.
In a great gorge-vaulting leap worthy of one of its towering armored juggernauts, anime aims to land squarely in the American animated heartland. "Disney adds legitimacy," said Greg Forster, the marketing director of Manga Entertainment, a Chicago distributor of anime.
No skull-faced, spike-limbed 40-foot brute with rack-and-pinion steering may ever stride around bearing Disney's logo, but that's not the point. By importing samples from the vast selections of child-oriented animation from Japan, Disney may well clear shelf space for all kinds of work from Japan. "They'll bring anime into the mainstream," Forster said.
But no one from anime's marketing legions can really predict the outcome of Disney's tentative interest. Realistically speaking, most Americans will probably never broaden their concept of animation as anything more than children's territory.
In Japan, by contrast, the animation industry springs from a long association with the comic book, both for grown-ups and for youngsters.
More than half the books published in Japan are comics, and they embrace all adult genres.
"America is the only country in the world that has this preconceived notion that comic books are intrinsically for children," said John O'Donnell, managing director of Central Park Media, a New York distributor of anime and one of its leading importers. That peculiar notion, he said, extends to animation. "In America, cartoons are for kids; in Japan they slice up the market into both sexes and every age group."
A typical year in Japanese animation yields
20 to 30 feature films, 300 to 400 direct-to-video titles and 50
TV shows, which run virtually around the clock.
Films and shows range from sitcoms and family dramas to noir and the graphically violent and sexual. "In Japan they run everything on TV," O'Donnell said. "If people don't like it, they don't watch it."
In this country, of course, animation on television is geared primarily to children. The VCR, however, opened the way for Japanese films with mature themes and made it economically possible for distributors to profit from small markets.
Interviewed in Tokyo by phone through an interpreter, Koichi Ohata, the director of the anime film "M.D. Geist II," said that Japanese animators paid no attention to American tastes. They are too busy satisfying their own enormous and varied market. "I have no idea what foreigners want," he said.
He did say, though, that much anime of the late 1980's was influenced by the American "Star Wars" movies and that current darker tales were influenced by American films like "Robocop" and "Blade Runner." And Japanese animated characters have oversize eyes, a vestige, Mr. O'Donnell said, of the old American animated heroine Betty Boop. Whatever is produced, importers choose what they want, from "Kiki" to sci-fi Armageddons and "pornimation," as some of the steamier romps with Western-looking women, from college girls to the princesses of sci-fi legend, are sometimes called in the United States.
Mr. O'Donnell said that Americans' narrow attitude about animation could be traced to their experience with the comic book in the 1950's, when a Congressional committee headed by Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee declared that much of the country's juvenile delinquency problem could be linked to comic strips. "So for a lot of reasons, the cartoon in America got ghettoized," Mr. O'Donnell said. Truly adult material went underground, breaking out only occasionally in work like Robert Crumb's Zap Comix.
Now anime's popularity proves that there is a demand for adult animation. Perhaps even a qualified step like Disney's experiment with "Kiki's Delivery Service" is a sign of an eventual explosion for all sorts of Japanese animation here.
"We say anime is all violence and sex," Mr. O'Donnell said, "and so far that's right, because the other 95 percent hasn't been released here yet."
14). Video Business
March 9, 1998
Anime: Japanese animation is
moving off the niche shelf.
Ten years ago, Japan's new distinctive brand of animated storytelling--anime--was all but unknown to American audiences. The 1988 stateside theatrical release of Katsuhiro Otomo's bloody, post-apocalyptic: thriller Akira changed that, riveting arthouse audiences populated by funny accustomed to cartoons animals. Akira's video release achieved a gratifying if limited success and launched a category that, a decade later, offers more than a thousand titles to video consumers.
What's more, anime's current status as highly marketable niche product may change before much longer. The genre is poised to break out and become part of the mainstream. Major Hollywood studios are rumored to be developing animated feature films in the anime style. More important, Miramax is preparing an English-dubbed version of Princess Mononoke, the anime classic by acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki that was Japan's top-grossing film last year. Bolstered by vocal performances from A-list Hollywood actors and Miramax's promotional muscle, Princess Mononoke could springboard anime into the big time--and provide a boon to video retailers who are vested in the category.
RELATED ARTICLE: Disney's Doin' It
Anime is so popular that even the Disney organization, home of filmdom's most beloved animation classics, has embraced it--at least tentatively. Early in the fall, Disney will release to video Kiki ' s Delivery Service , the first of eight licensed anime feature films created by world-renowned director Hayao Miyazaki. "Our foray [into the field] is aimed at recognizing the brilliance of this particular animator," said Buena Vista Home Video VP of publicity and event marketing Tania Moloney.
She points out that Kiki ' s Delivery
Service , unlike many of the genre's other highly regarded
titles, is definitely a family movie suitable for even the
Kiki, which features the vocal talents of Kirsten Dunst, Debbie Reynolds and Phil Hartman in its English-language version, follows the adventures of a 13-year-old witch who is importuned to do something good. She goes to the big city and starts her own delivery service, flying on her broom to help various clients.
Kiki ' s Delivery Service , slated for early fall release, as yet doesn't carry a suggested retail price, though Moloney said it will "definitely be a sell-through item."
15). The Seattle Times
May 23, 1998
The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) begins its Saturday-matinee family series today with the world premiere of " Kiki ' s Delivery Service ," a feature-length children's story about a 13-year-old witch who leaves home for a year of potion-learning and broomstick-flying. It plays at 12:30 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki ("My Neighbor Totoro"), the movie suffers from the limited facial animation of so many Japanese cartoons, but the backgrounds and the story are consistently pleasing.
The finale, in which Kiki flies off on her broom to thwart a runaway dirigible, is a real cliffhanger. Phil Hartman provides the voice of Kiki's cat, who always has something sardonic to say.
All seats for the Saturday family matinees are $4. Coming up in the series: "Digging to China," next Saturday; a collection of short films, June 6; and "Possums," June 13.
June 24, 1998
U. Southern California: Florida
Film Fest betters Hollywood
By Scott Foundas
Daily Trojan (U. Southern California)
LOS ANGELES -- The funny thing about attending a good film festival is how it can purify you of all that burnt-out, bitter feeling that gestates after a year or so spent within the confines of Hollywood's screening rooms, digesting each week's latest wide releases with an increasingly indifferent palate and critical passivity.
Now in its seventh year, the Florida Film Festival never fails to serve up a diverse slate of new world cinema, with a particular emphasis on American independent films that has continually marked the event as one of the most important such exhibitions outside of Sundance. Refreshingly intimate and low- key, this year's installment of the festival (which wrapped up its nine day run Sunday night) provided the strongest lineup yet in its short history, and if there was a common bond to be found unifying the fest's disparate entries, it was the reminder that sometimes movies can come out of nowhere and surprise you.
Finally, though it is slated for direct-to-video release by Disney in this country, Hayao Miyazaki's " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " is another visually arresting animated treat from the director of "My Neighbor Totoro." Deserving a large screen for its painterly compositions, " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " is a children's film of real wit, imagination and an overwhelming sense o f joy such as Hollywood never imagines.
17). Star-Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities Mpls.-St. Paul
August 12, 1998
From Japan via Disney
Walt Disney Co. will begin distributing the children's films of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki in the United States, and Twin Cities families can see an early preview of one such import. " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " is the coming-of-age story of a nice little witch who wants to take on some good deeds. But first, she has to learn to fly a broom.
The film is dubbed in English and features the voices of performers including Janeane Garofalo, Debbie Reynolds and the late Phil Hartman. The showing is sponsored by Asian Media Access, a nonprofit media art and education organization in Minneapolis.
- When: 1, 5 and 7 p.m., Saturday. A "Japanese Cultural Kids' Fair" with songs, crafts and foods will start about 2 p.m. and run between afternoon screenings.
- Where: Metropolitan State University Auditorium, 700 E. 7th St., St. Paul.
- Admission: Children under 5 are free; under 12, $4; adults, $6. Adults accompanied with children receive one free child's admission.
- Information: 376-7715. - H.J. Cummins
18). The Plain Dealer Cleveland, OH
August 22, 1998
JOHN PETKOVIC PLAIN DEALER REPORTER
You thought Japanese animation only consisted of high-tech violence - from futuristic cyborgs slaughtering one another in Tokyo to Racer X badgering his pet monkey assistent, Chim Chim, in "Speed Racer"? Here's a real shock: a nice coming-of-age story about a girlish witch who puts her magical powers to good use. It's the 1989 animated film " Kiki ' s Delivery Service ." The film, by Japan's most popular animator, Hayao Miyazaki, screens at 7:30 tonight at the Cinematheque at the Cleveland Institute of Art, 11141 East Blvd., Cleveland.
19). The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
September 1, 1998
KIKI THE WITCH
The video, Kiki ' s Delivery Service , tells the story of Kiki, a 13-year-old good witch who starts a delivery service (on her broom) that pulls the community together. It's rated G.
"Great characterization and animation in a well-crafted tale about a teen-age witch. Should become a classic," wrote reviewer Randy Myers of the Contra Costa Times.
The tape is $19.99. The voices are provided by Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Matthew Lawrence, Debbie Reynolds and Janeane Garafalo.
20). Los Angeles Daily News
September 2, 1998
DISNEY'S ASIAN SECRET; JAPAN'S MASTER ANIMATOR SIGNS U.S. DISTRIBUTION DEAL
David Bloom Daily News Staff Writer
When the Walt Disney Co. calls someone the Walt Disney of Japan, maybe animation fans ought to pay attention.
The animation giant is talking about Hayao Miyazaki, nine of whose animated films from the past two decades it will release in American video markets or theaters in coming months.
The first one, " Kiki ' s Delivery Service ," hit video stores Tuesday and features Miyazaki's wonderful animation style and a flight of narrative fancy that's perfect for children yet still engaging for adults.
The film was a big Japanese hit, something Miyazaki has a habit of making.
"The Princess Mononoke," which Disney subsidiary Miramax plans to release in theaters next year, has grossed at least $150 million so far, second only to "Titanic" in Japanese box-office history.
Miyazaki also created "My Neighbor Totoro," another highly recommended children's film infused with magical beasts and striking art that has been available on video in the United States since 1994, selling half a million copies so far. Rights to distribute "Totoro" also will revert to Disney from 20th Century Fox under the deal.
"Miyazaki is a pioneer and a visionary who can take a story and bring it brilliantly to light through phenomenal animation and imagery," said Michael Johnson, president of Disney subsidiary Buena Vista Home Entertainment Worldwide. Johnson championed the deal at Disney after seeing a Miyazaki film several years ago in Tokyo.
"We know animation," Johnson said. "When I first saw Miyazaki's films, I wanted to find a way to make them available around the world."
"Kiki" follows a 13-year-old witch as she leaves her family for a year of training on her own in a big city in a universe somewhat like ours, but not quite.
In it, dirigibles and early TVs, Clipper ships and double-decker prop planes, '40s-era cars and quill pens all combine to give the film a slightly disorienting, if pleasing alternate-world feel. That feel is further heightened by Miyazaki's lifelike style, reminiscent of the Tintin series and some recent French comic book artists.
To revoice the film for American audiences, Buena Vista brought in a name-brand American cast, including young actress Kirsten Dunst as Kiki, the late Phil Hartman as her wisecracking cat and Janeane Garofalo as an artist friend.
The conversion to English isn't total however. Written credits and some minor details in the film itself are in Japanese, though in other places, signs in German, English and other languages contribute to the tale's overall dislocation of reality.
Unlike most Japanese animation, or anime, Miyazaki's work is much slower, quieter and sweeter. Like "Totoro," the 104-minute "Kiki" is long for an animated feature and sometimes feels like it, given its deliberate pacing. But Miyazaki's films contain many charms, as quirky fantasy bumps up gently against slices of average life.
"His films are truly universal and timeless in their appeal," Johnson said. "They transcend cultural borders, and I know of animators everywhere who speak of his influence on their work."
Miyazaki, who personally draws thousands of each film's frames of animation, is a stunning visual artist. For instance, one of "Kiki's" stars is the gorgeous European-looking city in which it is largely set, replete with a dazzling clock tower and mansard-roofed buildings.
Other tours de force are a sequence with a flock of Canadian geese, his handling of wind and water, and an accident involving the helium-filled dirigible.
Disney has ambitious plans for Miyazaki's films.
"We want to take ` Kiki ' s Delivery Service ' and have it transcend the anime category by packaging and marketing it differently so that it reaches a much wider audience, beginning with families," Johnson said.
But securing the deal with Miyazaki took almost as long as creating one of Miyazaki's films. He had been courted by other studios in the past but had resisted deals because of concerns about preserving his films' artistic integrity, Johnson said.
As part of Miyazaki's deal, Disney's own name won't appear explicitly anywhere in connection with his films. Subsidiaries Buena Vista and Miramax will handle the video and theatrical releases.
The films themselves won't be cut or otherwise modified, except for the addition of top-flight American casts. For "Mononoke," which updates a 14th-century Japanese fable, the company has signed Gillian Anderson, Claire Danes and Minnie Driver for character voices, Johnson said.
"We really view these films as masterpieces and don't want to take too many liberties with them," said Johnson. "There are moments of reflection in there that are often missing in American films. Many Disney animators idolize him."
2 Photos; Caption: Photo: (1) no caption (" Kiki ' s Delivery Service ") (2) Animator Hayao Miyazaki's films are being distributed by Disney, the company he chose after turning down offers from other studios.
21). The Seattle Times
September 3, 1998
DISNEY WILL DISTRIBUTE ANIMATED JAPANESE MOVIE
The most popular kids' movie at this year's Seattle International Film Festival, " Kiki ' s Delivery Service ," never had a theatrical run, but it's getting a national video launch this week.
This feature-length Japanese cartoon about a 13-year-old witch who leaves home for a year of potion-learning and broomstick-flying was directed by Hayao Miyazaki ("My Neighbor Totoro").
While it suffers from the limited facial animation of so many Japanese cartoons, the backgrounds, characterizations and story are consistently pleasing. The finale, in which Kiki flies off on her broom to thwart a runaway dirigible, is a real cliffhanger.
Kirsten Dunst is the voice of Kiki, Debbie Reynolds plays her grandmother and Janeane Garofalo is Kiki's artist friend. But the most distinctive voice on the English-dubbed soundtrack is the late Phil Hartman, who always has something sardonic to say in the role of Kiki's cat.
Nine of Miyazaki's cartoons have been picked up for American distribution by Disney's video company, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, which is selling "Kiki" for $20 per tape. A group called Concerned Women for America has launched a protest against the company for picking up a film that promotes "divination," but Disney is going ahead with plans to release "Kiki" and its other Miyazaki cartoons.
Next up is "Laputa: Castle in the Sky," which the company will bring to video stores in 1999. Only one of the films will be getting a theatrical release. Miyazaki's most popular film, a 133-minute epic called "Princess Mononoke," which grossed $150 million in Japanese theaters, will make its American debut in theaters next year.
Miyazaki isn't the only Japanese animator represented on the Disney label. Also new from the company is "The Little Twins," a 13-part series about the adventures of young twins, Petal and Piper, on the magic island of Krockle. Carly Simon wrote and performed the title song for the English-language version, which aired this summer on Nickelodeon. The episodes are available on 60-minute tapes priced at $13 apiece.
Rhino Records is riding the Japanese animation boom this week by releasing a CD, "The Best of Anime," that includes music from such past faves as "Astro Boy" and "Speed Racer."
Central Park Media, a New York video company, releases several Japanese-animation videotapes each month, including this week's "Make Way For the Ping Pong Club," a summer-camp comedy; "Area 88: The Blue Skies of Betrayal," about a flyer for the Asran Air Force; and "Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer," about a high-school class that relives the same day over and over, in the manner of "Groundhog Day."
The most acclaimed of Central Park's current releases is "Grave of the Fireflies," a somber 90-minute cartoon that won the prize for best animated feature at the 1994 Chicago International Children's Film Festival. The New York Times called it "elegiac and riveting."
It's set in Japan at the end of World War II and follows two children as they lose their parents, try to find a home with a relative who gives "distant aunt" a whole new meaning, and finally retreat to a bomb shelter to live.
Reminiscent of Japan's sobering mid-1980s feature cartoon about the Hiroshima bombing, "Barefoot Gen," it certainly packs an emotional wallop that most cartoon features rarely approach. Central Park's tape, which is quite nicely dubbed in English, is available for $30. Information: 212-977-7456.
Video Watch by John Hartl appears Thursdays in Scene.
PHOTO; Caption: WALT DISNEY: DISNEY PRESENTS A JAPANESE ANIMATION SERIES, STARTING WITH " KIKI ' S DELIVERY SERVICE ," ABOUT A 13-YEAR-OLD WITCH WHO LEAVES HOME FOR A YEAR OF POTION-LEARNING AND BROOMSTICK-FLYING.
22). TNT's "rough cut"
Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki's Delivery Service
(Buena Vista) Not Rated
Talk about your cute cartoons. Kiki is a little witch (voiced by equally cute Kirsten Dunst), who strikes out on her own to learn to use her magic. Mastering her craft doesn't come easy, and with the help of her black cat (Phil Hartman) and her magic broom -- Kiki ends up befriending a whole town by the sea. High points in her adventures are her making best friends with the local weird kid who wants to fly and starting her own business delivering baked goods for the nice lady who boards her. Directed by master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, this is the first in a series of animated films distributed by Disney.
If you like your cartoons cute and sweet, then this week's Video Grab Bag is for you. Let us introduce Kiki. Kiki is a young witch. Not in the Halloween sense, but in a magical way. She can ride a broom and make powerful potions -- but she has to learn these skills on her own.
With the help of her little black cat (voiced by Phil Hartman), Kiki finds a quaint town by the sea and helps its residents by starting her own business -- Kiki's Delivery Service. Of course, it's not always easy for Kiki and adventure ensues.
This is one of the most beautifully animated films ever made, and it's about time American audiences get a chance to see it. Written and directed by the Japanese master of anime, Hayao Miyazaki, this is the first in a series Buena Vista will be releasing for America to feast on.
23). The San Diego Union-Tribune
September 5, 1998
Kiki's Delivery Service
Distributor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Synopsis: It's Kiki's 13th birthday and, for a witch, that means leaving home. Along with her cynical black cat, Jiji, Kiki flies off to a new town, where she becomes the resident witch and uses her broom to create a delivery service for a local bakery. Throughout her adventures, Kiki learns valuable lessons about friendship, trust, disappointment and reward, while discovering her own unique talents. In rescuing her friend Tombo from disaster, Kiki discovers that everyone -- even a witch -- has to search and work hard to find happiness. First in a series of animated Japanese features to be re-scripted for an American audience and released on home video, " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " (suggested retail price is $19.99) features the vocal talent of Kirsten Dunstas Kiki, the late Phil Hartman as Jiji, Matthew Lawrence as Tombo, Debbie Reynolds as Madame and Janeane Garofaloas Ursula. CASTING CALL
2 PICS; Caption: 1. Stuck in the middle: Kiki, the 13-year-old witch, is the center of attention in " Kiki ' s Delivery Service ."; Credit: 1. WALT DISNEY ENTERPRISES
24). THE ORLANDO
September 9, 1998
JAY BOYAR, Sentinel movie critic On video
Although the Summer Oscars were created to honor the season's major national releases, I'd hate to entirely overlook the best of the little films that help to keep the summer lively. That's why I came up with the honorary Smoscars.
This year's honorary awards go to The Opposite of Sex (best and funniest), Smoke Signals (best road picture), Kurt and Courtney (best documentary), Kiki's Delivery Service (best kiddie flick), Deja Vu (most emotional), Unmade Beds (wackiest), Beyond Silence (best coming-of-age movie), Pi (most original visuals) and Once We Were Strangers (quirkiest).
25). Chicago Daily Herald
September 10, 1998
'Teletubbies,' the British import, makes debut with 2 videos
A "bewitching" cast of celebrity
vocal talent highlights the first-ever home video release of one
of the most highly acclaimed international animated films of all
time, " Kiki ' s Delivery Service ."
The Japanese box-office hit is a heartwarming family film created by renowned artist Hayao Miyazaki. Rarely has the animator's art been so brilliantly rendered as in this delightfully imaginative film.
" Kiki ' s Delivery Service " (Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 104 minutes, Rated G, $19.99)
It is tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon to learn their craft. That night comes for Kiki, who follows her dream and embarks on the experience of a lifetime.
With her chatty black cat, Jiji, she flies off to find the perfect spot in a faraway city. There, a bakery owner befriends Kiki and helps her start her own business: a high-flying delivery service. The job opens up a world of fun-filled escapades and new friendships, including one with Tombo, a boy who dreams one day of flying. As Kiki tries to fit in, she discovers that the confidence she needs to overcome the challenges of growing up, is within herself and not in her magic.
" Kiki ' s Delivery Service " features Kirsten Dunst as the voice of Kiki, and Matthew Lawrence as her inventive and energetic friend, Tombo. Adding additional energy to the all-star cast are Phil Hartman as Kiki's hilarious black cat, Jiji; Debbie Reynolds as the caring grandmother figure, Madame; and comedienne Janeane Garofalo as Kiki's quirky artist friend, Ursula.
26). Decatur Daily
September 10, 1998
Column: Pulp Culture
by Franklin Harris
The Religious Right fears Japanese import: anime
When James Cameron's "Titanic" opened in Japan, it ran into more than just icebergs. It ran into "Princess Mononoke." The animated feature, directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli, was too busy breaking Japanese box office records to be bothered by a big boat and Leo Whatshisname.
No one could be more pleased by all this than Disney, which normally takes a dim view of any studio other than itself daring to make animated features. Disney has acquired the international distribution rights to nearly all of Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films.
Miyazaki has already made a splash on this side of the Pacific. His "My Neighbor Totoro," distributed on video by Fox, sold well, thanks to Fox's aggressive advertising, good word of mouth and the praise of critics like Roger Ebert.
Disney's first Miyazaki release is "Kiki's Delivery Service," a heartwarming and beautifully animated tale that touches upon Miyazaki's favorite theme: children growing into responsible adults.
Disney's dub of "Kiki" also features a first-rate cast, with Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofolo, Debbie Reynolds and the late Phil Hartman all providing voices.
Thanks to Disney, Japanese animation, or "anime," will have a chance at a mainstream American audience.
While anime has broken into the mainstream before in the form of such series as "Speed Racer," "Starblazers," and "Robotech," it usually has been heavily Americanized. When "Gatchaman" came to America in the late '70s as "Battle of the Planets," it bore only a passing resemblance to the Japanese original.
Most anime available in video stores today is science fiction. And while much of it is excellent ("Macross Plus," "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and the new "Gatchaman"), there isn't much variety.
Disney's entry into anime could change things.
While the possibility of an American anime boom will please fans of quality animation -- and should please fans of quality entertainment in general -- it won't please everyone.
A hysterical press release from The Concerned Women for America denounces "Kiki's Delivery Service."
"The film represents Disney's cautious entry into Japanese animation, which is best known for anime (the risque and warlike corner of Japanese animation that has become hugely popular in video stores,)" it reads.
The release itself reveals the group's ignorance. Anime isn't a corner of Japanese animation. It is Japanese animation. That some anime is violent and sexually explicit is true, but only because the Japanese view animation as simply one of many storytelling methods. The Japanese make anime that is intended for adults, for children and both. Only Americans hold the silly notion that animation is for children only.
But what worries the Religious Right organization about "Kiki" in particular is the film's sympathetic portrayal of a girl who happens to be a witch, in the fantastic sense of the term: "The Disney Company is still not family friendly, but continues to have a darker agenda."
At the center of "Kiki" is a loving family made up of a respectful daughter and an attentive mother and father. What isn't "family friendly" about that?
What CWA really means isn't that "Kiki" isn't pro family, but that it isn't Christian. It also isn't anti-Christian, for that matter. But for the CWA to
expect an artistic work from a largely non-Christian culture to promote Christianity is absurd.
"By importing samples from the vast selections of child-oriented animation from Japan, Disney may well clear shelf space for all kinds of work from Japan," the press release continues.
It's this possible influx of art and ideas from a non-Christian culture that worries the Religious Right-types most. But, as the world gets ever smaller, that influx is something with which they'll just have to live.
Fortunately, the CWA is the far-Right fringe. But attacks on anime may very well increase when Disney brings "Princess Mononoke" to America.
"Mononoke" is one of those violent films that worry the CWA. But, acting sensibly, Disney will be marketing the film to adults and releasing it through its Miramax division rather than through its traditional animation divisions.
If there is an American anime boom, it will be a good thing. We shouldn't allow a small group of busybodies to spoil it for the rest of us.
Franklin Harris can be e-mailed at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 6, 1998
Buena Vista Home Video 'Delivers'
a Special Halloween Treat
KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE
Two Thumbs Up,' Say Siskel and Ebert
Get your broomsticks ready for a delightful, high-flying family adventure. Featuring a "bewitching" cast of celebrity vocal talent, KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE is the first-ever home video release of one of the most highly acclaimed international animated films of all time. KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE is the charming, coming-of-age tale of a spunky, 13-year-old witch named Kiki. This #1 Japanese box-office smash hit is a heartwarming family film created by the legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki. Featuring Kirsten Dunst (SMALL SOLDIERS), the late Phil Hartman (TV's "News Radio"), Matthew Lawrence (TV's "Boy Meets World"), Debbie Reynolds (MOTHER) and Janeane Garofalo (THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS), KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE is priced at a collectable $19.99 (SRP).
Incorporating a celebrity vocal ensemble of 'high flying" proportions, KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE features Hollywood teenage sensation Kirsten Dunst as the voice of Kiki, and Matthew Lawrence as her inventive and energetic friend, Tombo. Adding additional energy to the all-star cast are Phil Hartman as Kiki's hilarious black cat, Jiji; Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds as the caring grandmother figure, Madame; and comedienne Janeane Garofalo as Kiki's quirky artist friend, Ursula.
KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE is the tale of a resourceful young witch named Kiki. Upon reaching her 13th birthday, Kiki must leave home to find her niche in the world. Along with her cynically outspoken black cat, Jiji, Kiki flies off to a new town where she becomes the resident witch, using her broom to create a delivery service for a local bakery. Facing the "ups and downs" of growing up, Kiki learns valuable lessons about friendship, trust, disappointment and reward while discovering her own unique talents. Rescuing her friend Tombo from disaster, Kiki learns that everyone -- even a young witch -- has to search and work hard to find happiness and fulfillment.
KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE is available on VHS in Digitally-Mastered Hi-Fi Stereo Sound and on CLV Laserdisc; both are 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.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has been the recognized industry leader for 10 consecutive years.
28). Chicago Sun-Times
October 2, 1998
by Rober Ebert
Although cartoons can literally show any imaginable physical action in any conceivable artistic style, most of the successful ones are contained within the Disney studio style, as it has evolved over the years.
That isn't a bad thing for Disney movies, and I treasure most of them, especially the early ones and the modern renaissance. But there are other ways a cartoon can look. The Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki ("My Neighbor Totoro") has developed a look with the fanciful style of great children's book illustration (his "Kiki's Delivery Service" has just appeared in video stores).
29). Houchi Sinbun
(The following is an unofficial English translation of the article. - Ryoko)
September 29, 1998
"Princess Mononoke" to be released in the US next April. Claire Danes will dub it.
On September 28th, it was formally decided that "Princess Mononoke" (directed by Hayao Miyazaki) will be released in the US next April. As a Japanese movie, its release in 1,000 theaters is unprecedented in scale in terms of the voice cast and total cost.
Miramx, a subsidiary of Disney, will handle the US release. The most widely released Japanese film in the US so far is "Shall We Dance?," which was released in about 300 theaters. "Mononoke Hime" is definitely getting the same treatment as other Hollywood blockbusters.
As for the voice cast, Claire Danes, who played the heroine in "Romeo and Juliet," will play the heroine, Mononoke Hime. A rising young actor, Billy Crudup, Gillian Anderson of "The X-Files," and Minnie Driver are also in the cast. The total cost for dubbing, including fees for the actors, is said to be about 350 million yen.
Suzuki, the president of Studio Ghibli, says "We take it from (the cost of 350 million yen ) that they (Disney) are serious about this release." The interest in Ghibli films in the US is quite high. "Kiki's Delivery Service," which was released on September 1st in the US and Canada, has already sold 900, 000 copies. It will surely sell more than 1.2 million copies before year end.
Signing Ceremony in Tokyo
A signing ceremony concerning the US release of "Princess Mononoke" was held at the headquarters of Tokuma Publishing in Tokyo on September 28th. From the Japanese side, President Yosiyasu Tokuma, Producer Tosio Suzuki, and lawyers attended. From the Disney side, Yasuji Hoshino from Buena Vista Home Entertainment and lawyers attended. Tokuma and Disney have been negotiating for two years, since 1996. The 114 page-length contract includes not only the terms on Pricess Mononoke's release, but also the terms concerning past Ghibli films and Ghibli's next film, "My Neighbors the Yamadas."