Majo no Takkyubin
(Kiki's Delivery Service)
|Reviews & Articles|
1). The Japan Times, Aug 29, 1989
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1). THE JAPAN TIMES
August 29, 1989:
'Majo' delivers innovative world of animation"
The Japanese have a huge appetite for animation, as one glance at a TV or -- at this time of year -- a movie schedule will confirm. Much of that appetite, of course, is fed with junk: endless recyclings of superhero fantasy or schoolyard humor.
But this large potential audience, which includes legions of junior and senior high school *anime* fans, has given Japanese animators a creative freedom unknown to most of their American and European counterparts. Instead of catering exclusively to the very young (and their "young-at-heart" parents), they can attempt a more sophisticated storyline and treatment without worrying about confusing -- or losing -- their audience.
One of the most innovative of these animators is Hayao Miyazaki, who started his career with Toei Animation -- the largest animation studio in Asia -- more than two decades ago. In the course of that career, Miyazaki has developed a highly distinctive style that combines free-form fantasy with a meticulously observed reality. His animals talk and his children fly, but they perform these miracles in a world where windows stick and the heroine catches cold in the rain. And his artwork has a lushness and love of detail that rivals classicDisney.
In his latest film, "Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service)," Miyazaki reaches new heights of not only physical but psychological realism. His heroine, Kiki, is more than a witch with a shaky command of her broom (she has a distressing habit of bouncing off buildings). She is also a very real 13-year-old girl -- and a better actress of her flesh-and-blood contemporaries.
Miyazaki, who produced, directed and wrote the script for the film, explores states usually considered the province of "live" movies. Besides showing courage and spunk -- standard stuff for a cartoon heroine -- Kiki experiences boredom, depression and embarrassment.
The last is particularly interesting. After spending her first night at the home of a baker and his wife, Kiki wakes up and, still in her nightgown, steps outside. From her second-story room, which opens into a courtyard, she can see an outhouse down below. She trots down the steps, dashes into the outhouse and, a few moments later, peeps out. To her surprise, she sees the baker -- a young, silent giant -- stretching his muscles and walking slowly across the courtyard toward a storeroom. The moment he is out of sight, she runs back up the steps, dives into her room and shuts the door, breathing hard.
This scene does absolutely nothing to advance the plot and the humor in it is low (Disney would reject it out of hand), but in Miyazaki's hands it wordlessly -- and eloquently -- expresses Kiki's youth, vulnerability and isolation. A small triumph of understated but sharp observation, it allows us, for one clear moment, to see into the heart of an adolescent girl.
The movie is sprinkled with similar moments, but it is also very much an entertainment for kids. Here again, Miyazaki is successful, though boys might find Kiki's adventures a little tame. The story is a quest: Kiki's mother, a witch, sends her witch-in-training daughter on a yearlong journey to complete her apprenticeship.
Kiki, after spending a rough night riding through the rain and sleeping in a boxcar, arrives at a city on the seacoast. Here she finds that policemen do not appreciate her aerial acrobatics and that hotels do not accept underage witches.
She is saved from the park bench by a baker's wife, who offers her a room after Kiki helps her return a pacifier (by broom, of course) to a forgetful customer. This gives the baker's wife an idea: Kiki can pay for her room and board by operating a delivery service.
Thus title -- and the premise for much of the action. On her rounds Kiki meets an 18-year-old artist who becomes her best friend, an elderly lady who takes an interest in her welfare and a 13-year-old boy who makes a pest of himself.
These people become a substitute family, one that she needs very much when, midway through her stay, she loses her powers. Her black cat no longer talks to her, her broom no longer rises into the air. Miyazaki's depiction of her struggle to regain those powers is his great achievement in this film, and he shows her desperation, despair -- and eventual triumph -- with striking vividness. He doesn't shy from melodrama, but the most telling scenes tend to be the smaller ones that, like Kiki's race from the outhouse, contain nuggets of emotional truth.
The setting, however, is a complete fiction, with the cultural coherence of shopping bag prose. Kiki's city is a jumble of European styles, with a dash of San Francisco thrown in for good measure. Time is also warped in strange ways: The streets are filled with old-time cars, the houses, with microwave ovens. All of these "mistakes," however, are quite deliberate: They make the city a pleasantly bizarre blend of old-fashioned charm and modern convenience where a young witch with a Walkman hanging from her broom can fit right in.
"Kiki's Delivery Service" is more than a place to park the kids for two hours -- it is a surprisingly moving celebration of the animator's art that deserves a wider audience.
2). The Orlando Sentinel
June 19, 1998
Sentinel Movie Critic
Rating: * * *
In fact, I was more impressed by the visual design of Kiki's Delivery Service, an unpretentious animated Japanese feature that Disney reworked for American audiences and which recently played at the Florida Film Festival. It's not nearly as glitzy as Mulan, but its spirit seems fresher and purer.
(Disney, which is releasing Kiki direct-to-video in September, may not realize what it has in that film: Although its appeal is probably mainly for younger children, it deserves a chance in theaters.)
3). The Orland Sentinel
June 13, 1998
A trio of festival treats
_Kiki's Delivery Service_ (Four stars out of five)
One of the freshest films for young children to come along in ages is _Kiki's Delivery Service_, a sort of _Buffy the Vampire Slayer_ for thepreschool-and-slightly-above set.
A Japanese production from the acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki, it features a new English-language script and familiar, American-sounding voices. Trust me, the kids won't know the difference.
The Kiki of the title is a 13-year-old witch who, according to witch custom, must live apart from her loving family for a year. So she hops on her mother's broom and flies off to seek her fame and fortune in the big city.
With its simple characters and episodic nature, _KDS_ has an unpretentious fairy-tale charm. And despite its fantasy context, it deals with the sort of homey details that small children often really do think about, such as what happens when you miss an appointment and what to do when your clothes get wet.
The beautifully composed animation, with is spacious and gentle colors, is a welcome departure from the usual high-tech visuals of much modern animation. As for the voices, they are entertaining without being overpowering.
Kirsten Dunst (_Jumanji_) is Kiki, Matthew Lawrence (TV's _Boy Meets World_) is a junior aviation buff, Janeane Garofalo is an artist who paints Kiki, and Debbie Reynolds plays a grandmother. The late Phil Hartman once again steals the show: He's the nasal voice of Jiji, Kiki's sarcastic black cat.
Because the film is being released directly to home video on Sept. 1 (through Disney's video division), this festival showing could be your only chance to see it on the big screen. Kids and animation aficionados of all ages, should not let the chance slip away.
July 17, 1998
Kiki's Delivery Service (Majo No Takkyubin)
(Animated kidpic, Japanese-U.S., color, no rating, 1:43)
By Ken Eisner
SEATTLE (Variety) - The flag-waver for Buena Vista's rollout of nine top Japanese cartoons by Hayao Miyazaki, all revamped for the U.S. market, "Kiki's Delivery Service" is top-drawer kiddie fare for both fans of the exotic and mainstream family audiences.
Nippon's box office champ back in 1989, this breathtaking feature has been given deluxe English-lingo re-recording, led by Kirsten Dunst as a teenage witch-in-training and the late Phil Hartman as her wisecracking cat. (It had a negligible Carl Macek dub job at the beginning of the decade.)
The new video is scheduled for a Sept. 1 launch, having garnered a strong reaction on the festival circuit. The picture's offshore star has never faded -- there are hundreds of Web pages devoted to it, as well as spin-off books, CDs and games -- and there's no reason to believe "Kiki" couldn't inspire similar Stateside frenzy.
For animation buffs, the picture's main pull is extraordinarily detailed backgrounds that rival anything from the heyday of the Mouse House -- an outfit helmer Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli has routinely trounced in Japan. "Kiki" is remarkable in its conception as well as its visuals: Miyazaki sets the story in a mythical, polyglot Europe of the 1950s -- one, he says, in which WWII never happened. Result is cities and towns that resemble quainter places in Scandinavia, Italy, Japan and the U.S., with mixed-up typography (and iconography) to match. There's also a delightful jumble of sights and sounds -- '30s blimps thrown in with bulbous '40s cars and crude B&W TVs.
Big draw for parents will be the stellar voice cast, starting with Dunst, buoyantly believable as the 13-year-old who must leave home to find her way as a witch. The earnestness of her venture, which involves terrible broomstick takeoffs but unimaginably beautiful flights, is leavened by the presence of Jiji, her ground-hugging black cat. Hartman, who plays Dunst's dad in "Small Soldiers," was given free rein here: since Jiji often talks offscreen, he added about 50% more material to the script, and at least 100% more sarcasm to comments that are unfailingly amusing and often downright hilarious. ("Yes, Kiki, you can fly very high and very fast," the kitty sighs, while turning various shades of green.)
Also notable are Tress MacNeille as Osono, a pregnant baker who gives Kiki a delivery job and a new home in the seaside town of Colico; trouper Debbie Reynolds as an elderly lady helped out of a jam by our heroine; tube kid Matthew Lawrence as Tombo, an aviation-minded boy with a crush on the new witch in town; and Janeane Garofalo as Ursula, a mystical-yet-tough painter who inspires Kiki when her magical powers start to fail. This last blip is the picture's only downside, since it also deprives Jiji of speech for the final fifth of the story.
Overall, this thoroughly delightful tale is stronger on character and texture than on plot, with Miyazaki's masterful use of quiet spaces and expansive moods (especially in flying segs) offering a fresh contrast to hyped-up Yank toons. The picture does peak with one very exciting development, however, when Tombo is trapped on a Hindenburg-type dirigible that threatens to crash into Colico's city center. The thrill factor is also raised by two upbeat folk-rock tunes by newcomer Sydney Forest.
The big-eyed, mostly Caucasoid characters, drawn in typical manga style, may not be to everyone's tastes, but the highly original, color-rich tale is such a self-contained treat, parents won't mind the relentless replays tape will get.
Many folks will also appreciate "Kiki's" gentle tone of empowerment in its portrayal of different generations of women helping to bring out one another's strengths. This female skew hasn't kept boys from embracing the picture wherever it has played. On the other hand, a right-wing group called Concerned Women for America has already protested the picture's importation, accusing Disney of promoting "divination" and denigrating family values. (They cite "Fantasia" and "Peter Pan" as earlier evidence of Uncle Walt's "darker agenda.") At any rate, as part of the Ghibli deal, Disney can't put its logo on, or cut in any way, the nine Miyazaki efforts in the package, which go out under the bland imprimatur of "Animation Celebration." The next spell-caster due here is 1986's "Laputa: Castle in the Sky," which is said to have enough major names on the soundtrack to guarantee wide release.
Kiki .......... Kirsten Dunst
Jiji .......... Phil Hartman
Ursula ........ Janeane Garofolo
Tombo ......... Matthew Lawrence
Madame ........ Debbie Reynolds
Osono ......... Tress MacNeille
Barsa ......... Edie McClurg
Mom ........... Kath Soucie
With: Jeff Bennett, Pamela Segall, Debi Derryberry, June Angela, Corey Burton, Lewis Arquette, Fay Dewitt, Susan Hickman, Sherry Lynn, Matt Miller, Scott Menville, Eddie Frierson, John and Julia Demita.
A Buena Vista Home Entertainment presentation of a Studio Ghibli production, in association with Eiko Kadono, Tokuma Shoten, Nippon TV Network. Produced by Hayao Miyazaki. Executive producers, Yasuyoshi Tokuma, Mikihiko Tsuzuki, Morihisa Takagi. U.S. version executive produced by Jane Schonberger.
Directed, written by Hayao Miyazaki, based on a book by Eiko Kadono. U.S. version adapted by John Semper, Jack Fletcher, with voices cast and directed by Fletcher. Camera (color), Shigeo Sudimura; editor, Takeshi Seyama; music, Joe Hisaishi, Paul Chihara, Sydney Forest; production designer, Hiroshi Ono; character designer, Katsuya Kondo; sound (Dolby), Shuji Inoue, Ernie Sheesley; special effects, Kaoru Tanifuji; associate producer, Toshio Suzuki; assistant director, Sinao Katabuchi. Reviewed at Seattle Film Festival, June 14, 1998.
5). Columbia Dispatch
August 14, 1998
[Image of Kiki with caption: Kiki's voice is provided by Kirsten Dunst -- and there's no singing. ]
Kiki's Delivery Service.
Directed and written by Hayao Miyazaki.
Three Stars (out of 4)
When it absolutely, positively doesn't have to be there.
MPAA rating: G.
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.
Bewitching 'Kiki' sweeps away cartoon cliche
By Frank Gabrenya
Dispatch Film Critic
Aug. 14, 1998
Even as feature animation has grown common and popular, a slavish compliance to formula is making most of it look alike.
You know the drill: A hero or heroine sings about achieving his/her destiny; a cackling villain sings of the joys of evil; small, comical allies run into walls but keep the hero/heroine on course; the villain is defeated in a climactic battle cribbed from old movie serials; a sympathetic character is thought dead but, no!, he/she/it survives; a power ballad is warbled over the closing credits.
The eras and locales change, but the story travels a well-beaten path. Disney created the mold, and now even its rivals are loath to break it.
How refreshing, then, to find an animated feature with virtually none of the tired elements.
Kiki's Delivery Service, a movie as unlikely as its title, ignores the recipe. It has no strutting villain. The heroine doubts herself but doesn't burst into song about it. In fact -- and this borders on the seditious -- none of the characters sing.
Kiki's Delivery Service was made in Japan, where animation has been booming for years. And it was made in the late '80s, before the Disney formula had become animated law.
The movie is the work of Hayao Miyazaki, whose 1986 feature Laputa: Castle in the Sky is a landmark work in the current boom of animated fantasy in Japan.
Disney's home-video arm is bringing Miyazaki's work to America, beginning with a Sept. 1 release of Kiki's Delivery Service and a 1999 release of Laputa (the title now shortened to Castle in the Sky).
When it comes to Miyazaki, though, Columbus' Drexel theaters are ahead of everyone. The Drexel North screened Laputa in 1990 and played another Miyazaki feature, My Neighbor Totoro, as part of a Japanese animation festival in 1993. Now the Drexel has snatched up Kiki's Delivery Service for a rare American theatrical run before it hits video.
Even by Japanese standards, the story is refreshingly mellow. Kiki is a young witch who, according to witchly custom, leaves her loving home on her 13th birthday to find her place in society. Flying on her broom, accompanied by her skittish black cat Jiji (who talks to her young master), Kiki soars up the coast until she discovers a scenic village.
Kiki's mission is to find a place to live and do good with her powers. She decides to provide a delivery service -- for small parcels only, considering she has to carry them while straddling a flying broom.
She attracts the attention of Tombo, a Waldo look-alike with a passion for flying, and gains inspiration from Ursula, a reclusive painter who sees extraordinary beauty in the little witch.
A pair of crises unfold: A dirigible crashes into the sea beyond the town, and Kiki loses her confidence -- and with it her ability to fly. At no time do conventional villains with long mustaches barge in to take over.
The movie is full of surprising touches. People accept witches matter-of-factly, as if every town has one. The village looks more Bavarian than Japanese; of course, most of the characters have the big, round eyes common in Japanese animation.
Disney has westernized the movie with a re-recorded soundtrack, featuring familiar voices. Kirsten Dunst provides a perfectly innocent voice as Kiki, and the late Phil Hartman gets most of the laughs as her complaining cat. (Two innocuous background songs have been added but are easily ignored.)
American children, spoiled by the endless spectacle of today's animated features, may find Kiki a bit low-key. Kiki may be a witch, but she can't conjure spells or produce magic with a twitch of her nose; all she does is fly.
But that's a big part of the movie's charm. While the sensation of extreme height (a trademark of Japanese animation) can be breathtaking, the story's essence is in the down-to-earth charity of strangers helping a homeless waif, of a little girl creating her niche in life. Gentleness replaces bombast.
Miyazaki's animation is stiffer than
Disney's process (half as many drawings per second), but Kiki's
Delivery Service is loaded with humanity and heart.
6). Entertainment Weekly
September 4, 1998
[image of Kiki and Jiji with caption
"BROOM WITH A VIEW / Will Kiki's sorceress work magic in the
A Disney package deal brings the first of
nine animated national treasuresfrom Japan to video
By Ty Burr
The cassette box may make it look like just another kiddie cartoon, but if you see 'Kiki's Delivery Service' (1998, Buena Vista, G, $12.99) at the video store, pounce. Beyond that innocent cover lies not only an extraordinary film but the culmination of a five-year saga in which Walt Disney has endeavored to bring the work of reclusive animator Hayao Miyazaki (known to some, ironically, as the Walt Disney of Japan) to U.S. audiences.
To date, only two of Miyazaki's painstakingly crafted films have been theatrically released in English: 1984's 'Warriors of the Wind' was a butchered version of his 1984 breakthrough 'Nausica·of the Valley of the Wind', and while the 1993 U.S. release of 'My Neighbor Totoro' (1988) was well dubbed, Miyazaki was still reportedly unhappy with the results.
[image of Miyazaki]
On the basis of 'Kiki', the first, and most family-friendly, of the films to hit tape as part of this new deal, Miyazaki can rest easy. Far from rushing out a quickie dubbed version, Disney enlisted the vocal talents of Kirsten Dunst (as the winsome teenage witch of the title), Janeane Garofalo, Debbie Reynolds, and, in one of his last roles, Phil Hartman as Kiki's feline companion, Jiji.
The next film to see tape here will be 'Castle in the Sky' (1986), a far more ambitious fusing of action and mythology. And 'Princess Mononoke', the 1997 Miyazaki feature that was Japan's all-time top-grossing film until 'Titanic' came along, will get a U.S. theatrical release in 1999 and feature the voices of Claire Danes, Gillian Anderson, and Minnie Driver. Only one question remains: Are American audiences ready for films that, as the director once said in a rare interview, try to express the idea that "the world is profound, manifold, and beautiful"?
7). The Houston Chronicle
September 4, 1998
KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE
by Bruce Westbrook (staff)
3 and 1/2 stars (out of 4)
While Warner, Fox and DreamWorks scurry to outdo Disney in the lucrative animation market, Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki shows another way to make magic.
His "Kiki's Delivery Service" was a major hit in Japan and has had rousing film-festival screenings in the United States. Now it's on video for its national debut.
Disney hasn't touched a frame of the footage, but it did dub new voices, including Kirsten Dunst as Kiki, a 13-year-old witch who ventures to a new city as a rite of passage, and the late Phil Hartman as Jiji, her cynical, sarcastic cat.
The setting is a striking blend of reality and fantasy - a 1950s Europe where World War II never happened: Quaint yet bustling towns are bright, cheery and unscarred.
But other decades also collide, via bulbous cars, crude TV sets, transistor radios and '30s-style blimps.
Into this other-world flies Kiki on her broomstick. While folks are wowed, they accept her witchy ways like a mild eccentricity.
The plot concerns Kiki carving out a life in her new city and dealing with a witch's version of writer's block.
The human faces have the familiar big-eyed, cartoonish style of much "Japanimation." But backgrounds are incredibly detailed, with a photographic realism and a rich palette of colors.
The narrative proceeds at an unusually unforced, natural pace. Seeing "Kiki" is more like reading a book than watching today's punched-up movies.
The tone is warm and friendly, although the film isn't overly innocent or childlike. Hartman's witty kitty is highly amusing, and Janeane Garofalo and Debbie Reynolds provide other voices.
So let other studios try mightily to beat Disney at its own game. Miyazaki has triumphed in his own way with this refreshing, delightful and charming change of pace.
8). The Press Democrat Santa Rosa, CA
July 26, 1998
KIKI COMES TO AMERICA
Look, up in the sky! Flying considerably slower than a plane and lower than most birds, it's ... certainly not a man.
She's 13, an apprentice witch and the star of animator Haya Miyazaki's " Kiki ' s Delivery Service ," considered a modern classic in Japan.
Now the rest of the world is getting a look at some of the most undeniably dazzling animation ever done.
The Wine Country Film Festival will present " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Uptown Cinemas in Napa. The film already has won honors at film festivals in Seattle, Orlando and Nashville.
And on Sept. 1, Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment will release "Kiki" as the first in a home video series celebrating international animation. Disney also plans to release several more films by Miyazaki to America on video.
The English language version of "Kiki" features some voices familiar to American audiences:
Kirsten Dunst of "Jumanji" as Kiki.
Matthew Lawrence of "Mrs. Doubtfire" as her new boyfriend Tombo.
Debbie Reynolds as a kindly grandmother.
Janeane Garofolo of `The Truth About Cats and Dogs" as a hermit artist.
And the late Phil Hartman of the "NewsRadio" TV series as Kiki's cynical, caustic, wisecracking black cat Jiji.
That bit of background, of course, introduces an incongruous bit of tragedy, since Hartman was shot and killed last May by his wife, who then committed suicide, according to police.
Still Hartman's charming, comic, vocal performance in this delightful family makes a pleasant addition to his pop culture legacy.
The film follows Kiki's quest when she leaves home, as every witch must on her 13th birthday, to find a town of her own to protect and serve. She adopts a busy seaside city, which at first, considers her mainly a hazard to traffic.
Kiki finds refuge with a cheerful couple at their midtown bakery, and begins her airborne delivery service by taking bread and cakes to their customers on her broom.
As her story unfolds, she has to face not only angry birds and rainstorms, but her fading of powers and a life-and-death emergency high above her city.
The characters, voices and story are all good, but it is the incredible detail, fluid action and incredible depth of the animation that make this film stand out.
The depth of the film's visual field is astounding. When the camera looks down on Kiki as she flies above the landscape, it's hard not to feel a touch of vertigo. You could fall forever into the three-dimensional imagery.
"Kiki" is just one of dozens of films in the Wine Country Film Festival, which continues through next Sunday in Napa Valley and then resumes Aug. 5 in the Sonoma Valley. For tickets, phone 546-BASS.
Write to Dan Taylor at The Press Democrat, P.O. Box 910, Santa Rosa, 95402. Fax: 546-1209. E-mail: DTaylorArt@aol.com
PHOTO: b&w by WALT DISNEY ENTERPRISES; Caption: ` Kiki ' s Delivery Service ' plays at 1 p.m. Saturday at Napa's Uptown Cinemas.
9). The Plain Dealer Cleveland, OH
August 21, 1998
`WALT DISNEY OF JAPAN' DELIVERS WITH ANIMATED `KIKI'
PLAIN DEALER FILM CRITIC
You don't often get a chance to take your children to the Cleveland Cinematheque - unless, of course, your children are fluent in a Slavic language or old enough to vote. But this weekend, you can enjoy one of Cleveland's great arts institutions without enlisting the services of a baby sitter. Take the kids to see "Kiki ' s Delivery Service ," and, as a bonus, you can show them that the world of animation and imagination extends well beyond the gates to Disney, not to mention the coasts of America.
The charming "Kiki" comes from the animation studio of Hayao Miyazaki, the director/producer of "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Laputa." Miyazaki, known as the Walt Disney of Japan, turns out lush, lyrical, child-friendly animated features that are the flip side to the more familiar adult Japanimation, which comes saturated in sex and violence.
Oddly, though, "Kiki" has little to identify it as Japanese, beyond a few Japanese characters on signs and in the credits. It takes place in a vaguely European country, where the Western-looking Kiki (voiced in the dubbed American version by Kirsten Dunst), a 13- year-old witch, is ready to begin her witch training.
Among these good, helpful witches, it is tradition for young witches to leave home at 13, settle in a distant city on their own, and develop their magic skills. So Kiki flies off (somewhat shakily) on her broomstick with her sarcastic black cat, Jiji (voice of the late Phil Hartman), looking for a city by the sea.
She finds it soon enough, though the process of finding a place for herself in that city takes quite a bit longer. She's lonely, she feels freakish and different in her black witch's dress, and she wonders how she'll ever fit in. What can she do to help people? Where will she find people who accept her for who she is? What makes Kiki special?
Kiki's problems are ones to which all children can relate, though Miyazaki tells the story in such an entertaining and engaging way, children won't feel they're being morally educated. Especially enchanting are the scenes of flying, which is where Kiki finds both her value and her true friendships.
While in description " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " sounds like a movie whose storybook sweetness makes it attractive only to the very young, a special test audience of media-savvy kids between the ages of 8 and 12 absolutely loved it. Two of those kids were already big fans of Miyazaki's work, having rented "My Neighbor Totoro" on many occasions, and gave "Kiki" the highest praise: It is, they said, even better than "Totoro."
How many kids do you know who can compare foreign films while they're still in elementary school? So take your budding little cinephile to the Cinematheque Saturday (at 7:30 p.m.) or Sunday (at 2 p.m.), and teach them that there's a whole world of movies beyond the mall.
PHOTO : NO CREDIT The Japanese animated feature " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " tells the tale of a kind-hearted, 13-year-old aspiring witch.
10). The Harrisburg Patriot
August 28, 1998
Disney, Miyazaki team up // Delightful 'Kiki's' first in venture
Sure, summer's almost over. So now the good family films are coming from Disney.
The company's video division, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, seems to have been cleaning out the vaults this season. But in a two-week period the re-release of `Lady and the Tramp,` a genuine animated classic, and the video debut of ` Kiki ' s Delivery Service ` are planned.
Kiki may be a new title to you. It certainly was to me. But this charming animated feature from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki is as delightful as it is surprising.
` Kiki ' s Delivery Service ,` which will be in video stores Tuesday, is the first release in Disney's international animation celebration.
Miyazaki's film retains its dazzling visual style and subtle, sophisticated use of color. It gains a new English-language soundtrack featuring some familiar voices.
Kirsten Dunst, the star of `Small Soldiers,` provides the voice of Kiki, an apprentice witch who sets off with her broom and her black cat Jiji to make her own way in the world.
Since flying is her one marketable skill, she sets up a delivery service when she's not working for a motherly baker who befriends the young girl.
Her other ally is Tombo (Matthew Lawrence), a young man who admires the new arrival in town but can't quite attract her attention.
Phil Hartman, Debbie Reynolds and Janeane Garofalo are among the others who lend their voices to the project.
This is the rare animated feature to wed a strong story to a distinctive style. Disney is also scheduled to release the Miyazaki film `Castle in the Sky` on video next year. His latest film, `Princess Mononoke,` will be released to theaters by Disney division Miramax next year.
Some sad examples of `family entertainment` come to home video every year. This attempt to introduce American audiences to the work of a celebrated artist is one of Disney's most welcome ventures.
The film will be found at the usual outlets beginning Tuesday. Suggested pride is $19.99 but discounters should have it at a price that's an even better bargain.
11). The Atlanta Journal; The Atlanta Constitution
September 3, 1998
WEEKEND AT HOME THE LATEST IN MUSIC AND VIDEOS On Video ALSO IN STORES THIS WEEK
" Kiki ' s Delivery Service " (G) --- Dubbed in English and released for video by Disney, this animated 1989 Japanese film from director Hayao Miyazaki (the upcoming "Princess Mononoke") is a visually opulent girl-power fable for preteens. Kiki is a young witch living in the countryside with her witch mom and human dad. Now 13, it's Kiki's duty to hop on her broomstick and fly off to an unknown city to train as a neophyte sorceress for a year. (This is a strange plot-starter, not to mention the fact that witches in this movie wear eggplant-colored shifts and bows in their hair and wish to be helpful, not scary.) Alone in a beautiful town with her talking black cat, Jiji, Kiki finds work as an airborne delivery girl and makes a bunch of friends. In its 103-minute running time, there's not much tension or conflict. But some of the animation --- particularly the elaborate backgrounds --- are breathtaking. Priced to buy: $19.99. Grade: B+
12). The Sacramento Bee
September 4, 1998
`KIKI' A CHARMING VIDEO IMPORT FROM DISNEY
Bee Movie Critic
The Disney company has been feverishly courting Hayao Miyazaki, Japan's reigning king of anime, for five years now and, with the release of " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " ("Majo No Takkyubin") on video this week, you can see why.
This enchanting animation about a young witch named Kiki who leaves her unnamed home with her black cat Jiji to do her interning in a unnamed foreign country is a delightful blend of eccentric, sophisticated storytelling and singular anime techniques. The film has a woozy, fanciful feel, set in some vague European city in a time that could be the '50s, '70s or the '90s, or all three.
The only modification Disney exercised was to bring in some A-list talent to expertly overdub the film --among them Kirsten Dunst as Kiki and the late Phil Hartman, who reportedly improvised the voice of Jiji. In one charming bit, Jiji spots a look-alike toy cat and observes, "It's me!"
According to its deal with the filmmaker, the studio retained the Japanese credits and its very European music score and is releasing the film uncut and without the Disney logo on it. "Kiki" runs a generous 103 minutes, unusual for an animation. It whets one's appetite for the nine other Miyazaki features that Disney plans to release, and the good news is that the company is mulling a decision to give "Kiki" a well-deserved theatrical run. Next year, it will release theatrically Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke" via its subsidiary Miramax, with a vocal cast including Claire Danes, Minnie Driver and Gillian Anderson.
Kiki ' s Delivery Service * * * * (* = Poor ** = Fair *** = Good **** = Excellent)
Vocal cast: Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo and Debbie Reynolds. Writer-director: Hayao Miyazaki. U.S. adapters: John Semper and Jack Fletcher. Distributor: Walt Disney. Running time: 103 minutes.
On Buena Vista Home Video; $19.95
13). Tulsa World
September 11, 1998
Kiki makes a delivery
Reclusive Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has been called the Walt Disney of Japan. It's fitting, then, that the folks at Disney have been trying for half a decade to bring the acclaimed artist's works here. The first to arrive, via videotape, is " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " (Buena Vista, 1998; rated G; 1 hour, 43 minutes; Dolby SurroundSound; $19.99). The Disney people couldn't have picked a better film to start with.
" Kiki ' s Delivery Service " is a stunningly drawn and extremely charming tale of a 13-year-old witch (a good witch, naturally; there are no bad ones in this tale) who follows tradition when she turns 13 by setting out on her own to learn and perfect her craft. Accompanied only by her talkative black cat, Gigi, Kiki heads for a big city where she learns valuable lessons about life and friendship. Instead of picking unknowns to voice Miyazaki's charming characters, Disney enlisted teen-age actress Kirsten Dunst to give voice to Kiki. Phil Hartman, in one of his last performances, is perfect as the acerbic Gigi. Also lending their voices to the film are Janeane Garofalo, Matthew Lawrence and Debbie Reynolds. All of this comes together beautifully and helps to make " Kiki ' s Delivery Service " a wonderful film that adults as well as children can enjoy.
Other Miyazaki works are being adapted by Disney for U.S. audiences. I can't wait.
14). The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
September 15, 1998
Video Review Kiki ' s Delivery Service
Starring: Voices of Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Matthew Lawrence, Debbie Reynolds and Janeane Garafalo.
Plot: This video tells the story of 13-year-old Kiki, who must leave her hometown for a year of training to become a witch. She flies off on her broomstick with her black cat, Jiji, and lands at an oceanside community where she creates a delivery service for a bakery.
Kiki learns that it takes hard work to find happiness and fulfillment. Charming Kiki is also refreshingly polite.
Why watch it: This animated video was made in Japan, and the characters are voiced by English-speaking celebrities. The credits are in Japanese.
The characters are friendly, realistic and interesting. The animation is top quality, with fine detail.
Kiki is a helpful witch, not the evil, spell-casting type. Some parents might object to the witch theme and the idea of such a young girl leaving home. Also, Kiki and a girlfriend are shown hitchhiking, something that can be dangerous.
Rating : G
Cost : $19.99
Reviewer's 1-10 rating : 8
15). Chicago Tribune
Sept. 17, 1998
"Feature by 'Japan's Walt Disney ' Arrives in the U.S."
Disney delivers on its promise to bring beloved, family-oriented Japanese animation to American audiences with the release of "Kiki's Delivery Service."
This bewitching tale of a young enchantress' search for her identity comes from "Japan's Walt Disney," famed animator Hayao Miyazaki. In 1996, Miyazaki's studio and Disney's home video division forged an agreement to release nine of the master animator's works. A high-flying comedy-adventure, "Kiki's Delivery Service" (Buena Vista Home Entertainment, $20) is the first to land.
Japan's top film of 1989, "Kiki's Delivery Service" has been dubbed with American celebrity voices, (For purists, a subtitled version is due later this year.) Kirsten Dunst ("Small Soldiers") plays Kiki, a 13-year old witch-in-training. For her apprentaceship, Kiki must leave home and find a town where she can practice her benevolent magic. She and her wisecracking pet cat Jiji (the late Phil Hartman) settle in a small European seaside city, where a kindly baker and his wife take in the charming pair.
Kiki decides to start a delivery service using her magic broom for transportation. Along the way she makes friends with a hip artist, Ursula (a
refreshingly girlish Jeanene Garafalo), a wise grandmother (Debbie Reynolds) and a teenage dreamer, Tombo ("Brotherly Love's" Matthew Lawrence), who admires Kiki and her flying powers.
Many view "Kiki's Delivery Service" as a prime example of Miyazaki's celebrated artistry. Elaborate and colorful backgrounds burst with so many details and crackle with so much movement that they give the pretty film a live-action feel in many places. Watch for the scene, for example, where newcomer Kiki shops for provisions at the local market. Each shelf is filled with the tiniest of tiny groceries. (Miyazaki and his roughly 50 animators reportedly take two to three years to complete a feature and work on only one project at a time.)
Yet the entirely hand-drawn movie has a distinctly Japanese aura, which makes it look, somehow, plain as well as fancy. Kiki and her friends move in an almost slow-motion. And, as often happens in Japanimation, they are drawn as cookie-cutter Anglos with enormous round eyes and cute noses.
"Kiki's Delivery Service" not only has style, but substance as well. How lovely to see a full-length animated feature that doesn't focus on the battle between good and evil. Excluding a few bratty characters, everyone the sweet witch encounters is kindhearted and giving. Kiki doesn't have to fight a nasty villain to find where she belongs. Instead, with a little push from her friends, the independent and introspective teen learns how to "trust her spirit" and "find her inspiration."
Although the film eschews villains and handsome princes, it should engage young American viewers of both sexes. Kiki, played with energy and enthusiasm by Dunst, is no priss. Thus, she finds herself in exciting adventures--from fending off angry crows that mistake her for a nest robber to rescuing Tombo from a dirigible accident. Hartman, as Kiki's sarcastic sidekick, gets in several zingers that adults and kids will enjoy. Listening to a cute kitty talk in Hartman's nasal drone is a delight.
Only one minor complaint comes to mid. In a few cases, Miyazaki painstakingly develops characters, then drops them.
Still, "Kiki's Delivery Service" should leave viewers wanting more from Miyazaki. Fortunately, his "Princess Mononoke" is due in theaters next spring and another popular feature, "Castle in the Sky," is slated for home video release in 1999. Let's hope for a speedy delivery.
16). Los Angeles Times
September 17, 1998
LOOK AND LISTEN Animated 'Kiki's' a Lush Visual Treat
Kiki ' s Delivery Service . Buena Vista Home Entertainment. $19.99. Widely available. Move over, Disney. This sparkling new home video release, created by Japan's celebrated animation master Hayao Miyazaki, ranks right up there with Disney's own classics.
This gorgeous, full-length family feature is about the adventures of a little witch-in-training who must find a town in which to be of service, despite her erratic broom-flying skills.
Set in a make-believe contemporary world with a Euro-Asian flavor, its lushly detailed visual splendor, from panoramic vistas of forest, ocean and city to closely observed small details, is astonishing. The quirky story itself is imaginative, comic and uncloyingly filled with heart.
Adding to the must-see appeal of this Americanized version of the film is the celebrity cast that gives it voice: Kirsten Dunst as Kiki, Matthew Lawrence as her admirer Tombo, Debbie Reynolds as a kindly old lady, Janeane Garofalo as Kiki's strong and independent artist friend and especially, the late Phil Hartman as the wise-cracking cat Jiji.
If you're familiar with Miyazaki's work from an earlier American home video release, by the way, the irresistible animated fantasy "My Neighbor Totoro," which he made with collaborator Takahata Isao, you'll have some idea of what kind of treat is in store here.
17). Boston Herald
September 20, 1998
VIDEO; For growing girls, `Kiki's' delivers
Like "Mulan," Disney's video-only
" Kiki ' s Delivery Service " is a little antidote to
something that has long plagued the heroines of animated
features: No matter what the story, these young women usually
look and act as if they've just come from the mall.
While no "Mulan," the English-dubbed Japanese movie at least rejects the Barbie-doll sameness of Belle, Anastasia and the rest.
"Kiki's" also differs by offering a present-day setting. It was written and directed by veteran animator Hayao Miyazaki, and its mix of realism and
fantasy is an improvement over the goofy brand of fantasy in his "My Neighbor Totoro."
Kiki (voiced by Kirsten Dunst) is a 13-year-old modern-day witch who must leave her family for a year to develop her powers. That means flying her broom to a new city and working her magic there.
For Kiki, who travels with her trusty black cat (the late Phil Hartman), "working her magic" turns out to have more to do with growing up than mixing potions. After finding a witch-free city, she opens a delivery service there, and her main challenges become the responsibility of deadlines, meeting new friends and, in order to maintain her powers, developing self-confidence.
Such issues are generally well-handled, with pluses coming from Hartman (for once, the animal sidekick is funny) and the artist (Janeane Garofalo) who becomes a role model for Kiki.
On the downside are the subplot involving a boy (Matthew Lawrence) with a crush on Kiki and the relatively long 105-minute length. The second half is very hard to slog through.
For better or worse, "Kiki's" has the conventional look of Japanese animation, an odd blend of Asian and Western, with "Japanese" characters
having Western features and "Japanese" cities looking very European. For instance, Kiki's new town has cobblestone sidewalks, double-decker buses and old European roadsters.
"Kiki's" - partially bankrolled by Yamato Transport, Japan's equivalent of UPS - is the first of several Miyazaki movies Disney will release on tape.
18). Siskel and Ebert
Aired in the week of Septemer 13, 1998
Ebert:"Our next movie is the delightful and visually breathtaking, animated feature, 'Kiki's Delivery Service'. It's the work of-
[Start clip from opening of
"Kiki" with Kiki looking into sky listening to the
-" Hayao Miyazaki, whose cartoons have outgrossed Disney features in Japan and, whose entire output has been purchased by Disney for release in this country. I_love_Miyazaki's_work. I admire his visual grace and beauty, and I love the way he identifies with his young heroes and heriones who are more like ordinary kids then mythical superheroes. There is one thing not ordinary about Kiki, however, she is a young witch-in-training-
[Start clip from Kiki starting to leave her
town flying through the air.]
-"and when she reached her teenage years she sets off with her pet cat Jiji, to find a new town in which to practice witchcraft. The movie has been lovingly dubbed by Disney with an American cast including: Kirsten Dunst as Kiki and the late Phil Hartman as Jiji, her cat.
[Clip sound: Kiki:"Jiji, climb up and turn the radio. I don't think I can handle it. Can you do it?"
Jiji: "Oh, great! Now I'm suddenly the flight attendant." ]
[Start clip with Kiki agreeing to deliver the baby's pacifier.]
Ebert: "In the new twon Kiki gets a job as a delivery girl for a pregnant baker named Osono, an earth mother voiced by Tress McNeill.
[Clip sound: Osono: "Oh my goodness!"]
[Start clip with Tombo hanging on to rope with Kiki just hovering around him.]
Ebert: "Kiki makes a pal a young boy named Tombo, who goes on a dirigibil ride and gets in a lot of trouble.
[Clip sound: Tombo: "Kiki." Kiki: "Tombo!"]
Ebert: "The animation of Miyazaki is only now becoming fimliar in this country, but he is the equal, I think, of the Disney animators at their best. In the pipeline-
[End of clips.]
Ebert: -"is Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke which until 'Titanic' was the highest grossing movie in Japanese history. 'Kiki Delivery Service' is direct-to-video, it's in stores right now, and I loved it.
Siskel: "I enjoyed it very much too, Roger. It has a different visualstyle-"
Ebert: "Yes, it does."
Siskel: "-than the classic Disney animators and so that is one thing that catches your eye...but the story!...I mean Kiki is really almost on a converyorbelt through this story. And I was fascinated by someone who followed her raptly, never looked away, my three year old son."
Siskel: "Now that amazed me. He happens to like...his favorite things are monster truck rallies.
Siskel: "And that kind of stuff, he's a real boy. He likes this gentle story about a girl walkin' through... ya know...there are exciting sequences and they are well animated. But not a word from him, and this kid likes action. It's surprising, that there is a narrative here and the kids hook into it.
End of review.
End of show:
Siskel: "Two thumbs up for 'Kiki's Delivery Service'. A delightful animated feature new in video stores."
(Show transcript by John Lichtle, first posted to the Miyazaki Mailing List on Sept. 13, 1998.)
19). Dallas Morning News
October 26. 1998)
KIDS SHOULD GET A KICK OUT OF 'KIKI'
by Nancy Churnin
(picture of Kiki when she hands the note
from the woman with the baby toOsono)
The common theme in children's Halloween releases for this year is to take the fear out the holiday, making it more trick-and-treat than trick-or-treat.
In the animated world of "Kiki's Delivery Service", people are not particularly frightened or surprised by witches--they're just not all that impressed.
That is until Kiki, a young witch determined to make good, comes up with the idea of using her broomstick flying skills to start a delivery service --returning pacifiers to babies and baked goods to customers of the bakers whose upstairs room she rents.
Billed as No. 1 Japanese boxoffice hit, this creation by famed Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki ("My Neighbor Totoro") also explores a fertile new area for bringing fresh ideas to American audiences. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, better known as Disney, assembled a quality Hollywood cast, led by the appealing Kirsten Dunst as Kiki, and had them perform an English language script to Mr. Miyazaki's charmingly detailed drawings in which nature seems as alive as the characters.
True, the words are not in synch with the lip movements, but kids will hardly notice. Instead they'll be captivated by this quirky coming-of-age story in which witches are expected to leave home and find their own way at age 13. Kiki, a big, red bow glowing like a beacon of warmth in her dark hair, not only makes good but also makes friends, brushes up against snobbery, loses her powers and learns that they are within her all along.
The late Phil Hartman does a terrific deadpan turn as Kiki's skeptical black cat, Jiji. Debbie Reynolds brings gentle wisdom to her grandmother and Janeane Garofalo provides wry insight as her friend, who teaches Kiki to trust herself again.
This is a charming choice for Halloween--when witches can use all the de-demonizing they can get--and a winning coming-of-age tale for any time of the year. Look for more of Mr. Miyazaki's work next year. His "Castle in the Sky" is scheduled to debut on video, and Miramax plans to give his most recent film, "Princess Mononoke", a full theatrical release.
three our of four stars.
Anime Pick of the Month
The animated "kiki's Delivery Service" is a charming coming-of-age story about a young witch who sets out to find a town in need of her magical abilities. Accompanied by her black cat Jiji, she soon finds a niche in a bustling coastal town working for a bakery and delivering packages on her broom. But self-doubt and a heavy work load begin to fray Kiki;s bubbly optimism, and she'll soon lose her powers if she cant discover who she really is.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment-a subsidiary of Disney-weds Hayao Miyazaki's incredible animation and character-driven story with top-notch voice acting-resulting in one of the best-realized anime projects ever produced in the West. Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Debbie Reynolds and Matthew Lawrence (among others) deliver spot-on performances, giving each of their characters a natural dimension that leaves the world of artificial "cartoon" acting behind.
"Kiki" is throughly entertaining, from the charming characters and top- notch voice acting to the breathtaking animation and catchy score. It even has a message if you dig deep enoungh: Miyazaki once admitted that "Kiki" represents Japan's quest for identity in the booming 1980s. Buena Vista planes to release a subtitled version of "Kiki," but no release date has yet been set. The Mouse House is also thinking about releasing a DVD version, but hasn't made a commitment yet.
-BROOM, NO GLOOM Kiki delivers goodies, not
21). L.A. Times
December 3, 1998
Holiday Gift Guide, CHILDREN
Songs, Stories to Treasure
By LYNNE HEFFLEY, Times Staff Writer
**** "KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE," Buena Vista Home Entertainment ($19.99).
Astonishing in its visual splendor and delightfully entertaining, this magical family film about a little witch-in-training, from Japan's celebrated animator Hayao Miyazaki, is not to be missed.
**** "FAIRY TALE, A TRUE STORY,"
*** "THE LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE,"
*** "THE BORROWERS,"
*** "QUEST FOR CAMELOT,"
*** "BRAMBLY HEDGE: AUTUMN/WINTER,"
22). Entertainment Weekly
December 25, 1998
10 BEST VIDEOS
by Ty Burr
1. Kiki's Delivery Service
(Buena Vista, G)
In a year in which the animation breakthroughs on the big screen involved computers and bugs (no, not that kind), the video that gave me the purest home-viewing enjoyment was a cartoon about a sweet-faced adolescent witch. Made in 1989. Hand drawn. Animator Hayao Miyazaki ("My Neighbor Totoro") has been called "the Walt Disney of Japan," and, ironically, it's Walt Disney that is finally releasing his films in this country, with new, celeb-studded English-language tracks. Still, even as the characters speak in the familiar cadences of Janeane Garofalo, Debbie Reynolds, and the late Phil Hartman, Kiki remains a beguiling fever dream of childlike nostalgia. On one level, it's as archetypal as a Joseph Campbell myth: Thirteen-year-old Kiki (Kirsten Dunst) leaves her parents to find her place in the world, ultimately settling on a coastal city that Miyazaki envisions as a 1950s Europe where WWII never happened. In another sense, it's a deeply reassuring parable of belonging. And on the visual level, it's simply astounding, like one of Herge's Tintin landscapes unstuck in time, or a Little Nemo in Speed Racer Land. Next year Miyazaki's '97 hit "Princess Mononoke" will be released in U.S. theaters. For now, Kiki serves as a reminder in these antsy times that the best animated films are never about how the dots connect, but where they take you.
2. The Black Cauldron
(Walt Disney, PG)
What with "A Bug's Life" and "Kiki's Delivery Service," Disney had a pretty good year. So why'd the company dig up this pre-Michael Eisner stinker and put it on tape-as part of its "Masterpiece Collection" yet, a new low in self-promotion even for them? Shoddily animated, charmlessly written, too creepy for small fry, it's most notable for the sheer desperation with which it cribs from "Star Wars," "Gremlins," "Dungeons & Dragons" -- anything that seemed remotely hip in 1985.
Best of 1998 videos for kids
1. Lady and the Tramp
2. Kiki's Delivery Service:One of the year's most anticipated releases, this acclaimed Japanese fantasy enchants children and adults with its lush, imaginative animation and magical story. For all ages.
4. Blue's Clues: Arts & Crafts
5. The Parent Trap
6. The Princess Bride
9. Teletubbies: Dance with the Teletubbies
10. The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock
24). Contra Costa Times
December 25, 1998
If you missed them, catch them on tape
By Randy Myers
TIMES STAFF WRITER
WHAT I LIKE BEST about this video critic's gig is discovering films that didn't get the excessive hype of big-big-budget stinkers like "Godzilla." You know the type: the independent films that played a smattering of inconveniently located theaters or the surprisingly good movie that either was made for video or received such a shoddy theatrical release you most likely missed it.
For most of us, renting videos gave us the first opportunity to see some of the best films from not only '98, but '97 as well. So rather than just serve up the standard leftovers from big box office winners, I've created a Top 10 and Bottom 10 list of videos you probably didn't get a chance to see in theaters.
1. "The Sweet Hereafter"
2. "Eye of God"
3. "Kiki's Delivery Service": A young witch learns the ways of the broom in this animated import from director Hayao Miyazaki, who's been called the "Walt Disney of Japan." This ingeniously written and animated fable shows him wearing the title quite well.
4. "The Assignment"
5. "The Education of Little Tree"
6. "In the Company of Men"
8. "The Lion King II: Simba's Pride"
10. "Photographing Fairies"
25). Chicago Sun-Times
December 27, 1998
Roger Ebert's top 10 movies of
BY ROGER EBERT
The Chuck Jones Award
Named for the genius behind Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, this special prize is shared this year by five animated films that dramatized the ways in which feature-length cartoons are breaking away from the ``children and family'' category and growing up into full-bodied entertainments.
The winners, alphabetically:
* ``A Bug's Life,''
* ``Kiki's Delivery Service,''
by the Japanese animation genius Hayao Miyazaki, tells the story
of a young witch in training who goes to a new city, gets a job
and saves her friend from a dirigible crash. Miyazaki's ``My
Neighbor Totoro'' has found big audiences, and now Kiki is also a
video best seller.
* ``The Prince of Egypt''