Kiki’s Delivery Service (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

March 1, 2010 by  

A magnificent Studio Ghibli film with gorgeous animation and painted backgrounds and a heartwarming story.   Definitely a Hayao Miyazaki classic, this special edition of “Kiki’s Delivery Service” features plenty of special features and is definitely worth owning! A magnificent DVD release!

Image courtesy of © 1989 Eiko Kadono-Nibariki-GN.  © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Kiki’s Delivery Service

DURATION: 105 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescren (1:85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions, English Dolby Digital Sound, Japanese and French Language Tracks, Subtitles: English and French

COMPANY: Studio Ghibli/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment


Release Date: March 2, 2010

Originally Created by Eiko Kadono

Written and Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Music by Joe Hisaishi

Character Design: Katsuya Kondo

Art Director: Hiroshi Ohno

Animation Director: Katsuya Kondo, Shinji Otsuka, Yoshifumi Kondo

Director of Photography: Juro Sugmiura

Producer: Hayao Miyazaki, Toru Hara

Anime Production by Studio Ghibli

Featuring the following voice talent:

Minami Takayama/Kirsten Dunst as Kiki

Kappei Yamaguchi/Matthew Lawrence as Tombo

Minami Takayama/Janeane Garofalo as Ursula

Rei Sakuma/Phil Hartman as Jiji

Discover Kiki’s Delivery Service: Special Edition, a fantastic coming-of-age tale full of magic, adventure and self-discovery from the sensational imagination of Academy-Award®-winning* director Hayao Miyazaki. And now you can explore even more of Kiki’s amazing world through never-before-seen bonus features—exclusively in this 2-Disc Special Edition DVD! Kiki is an enterprising young girl who must follow tradition to become a full-fledged witch. Venturing out with only her black cat, Jiji, Kiki flies off for the adventure of a lifetime. Landing in a far-off city, she sets up a high-flying delivery service and begins a wonderful experience of independence and responsibility as she finds her place in the world.  Bring home Kiki’s Delivery Service: Special Edition for your family’s DVD library and share Kiki’s high-flying adventure again and again!

In 1989, Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli began work on their fifth film (their fourth theatrical film) titled “Majo no Takkuybin” (translates to “Witch’s Delivery Service” but known as “Kiki’s Delivery Service”) directed by Hayao Miyazaki and is an adaptation of a 1985 novel by Eiko Kadono.  The film was a winner of the Animage Anime Grand Prix that same year and nearly a decade later, the film was the first Studio Ghibli film released by Disney (on VHS) back in 1998 and on DVD in 2003.

With the release of Miyazaki’s latest film “Ponyo”, Disney is re-releasing DVD’s of the “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, “Castle in the Sky” and “My Neighbor Totoro” but this time in a special edition format in 2010 which includes more content.

“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a coming of age animated film in which Kiki (voiced by Minami Takayama/Kirsten Dunst) is a 13-year-old witch-in-training.  She has come to the age where she must live in a new town by herself and try to establish herself as a full-fledged witch.  So, Kiki leaves her home along with her mother’s broom and Jiji (a talking black cat, voiced by Rei Takuma/Phil Hartman).

But Kiki is not too familiar with the broom and she has her share of troubles trying to control it during flight.  As she and Jiji try to overcome some challenges due to her lack of experience of controlling the broom, she manages to settle in the city of Koriko and is immediately taken in by a very pregnant baker named Osono (voiced by Keiko Toda/Tress MacNeille) into the family’s home but in return, Kiki must work by delivering baked goods to customers.

As Kiki tries to get accustomed to learning how to fly on her broom, the biggest test that she faces is learning how to deal with a variety of customers.  Some that are good and some who are downright rude.  But also must deal with lost merchandise and even when there are times that business is slow.  But she also deals with her own insecurities of whether or not she can become a full-fledged witch and not having her family there with her.  Meanwhile, she meets Tombo (voiced by Kappei Yamaguchi/Matthew Lawrence), a boy who is also 13-years-old and interested in flying.  At first the two don’t get along but eventually they become friends.

But one day, Kiki’s witch power starts to diminish and literally loses her power.  Her cat Jiji also is unable to talk and now Kiki has become a normal girl.  Now Kiki is very insecure about herself until she becomes friends with a young artist named Ursula (voiced by Minami Takayama/Janeane Garofalo) who becomes a mentor to Kiki and helps inspire her.

Will Kiki regain her witch powers and become a full-fledged witch?


“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is presented in widescreen (1:85:1) – enhanced for 16×9 televisions. Similar to “My Neighbor Totoro”, Studio Ghibli continues its beautifully painted scenery with detail galore.  With Miyazaki inspired with a variety of cities and mishmashing European and Japanese architecture, Studio Ghibli was able to create this beautiful city with so much detail when it comes to the bricks that make up a building.  The plants and flowers that cover certain buildings.  There is a lot of detail and for the animation, capturing that feeling of flight when Kiki rides her broom through the air.  Absolutely well-done animation for a film back in 1989.

As for the audio, audio is presented in remastered English Dolby Digital Surround Sound and comes with English, Japanese and French language tracks.  Dialogue is clear and understandable for each of the soundtracks. The sound of the wind and the leaves rustling can be heard quite clearly.  I preferred to have my home theater receiver’s audio set at stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundscape but for the most part, dialogue and Joe Hisaishi’s beautiful musical score can be heard clearly through the front and center channels.

For those who watch the Japanese soundtrack will love the pairing of “Ranma 1/2” voice actress Minami Takayama (Kiki and Ursula) and Kappei Yamaguchi (Tombo), interesting enough that “Ranma 1/2” voice actress Noriko Hidaka was also the lead in Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro”.  For the English dub, Kirsten Dunst did a very good job as the voice of Kiki and Phil Hartman as Jiji, one of his final acting roles before his death in 1998.

Subtitles are in English and French.


“Kiki’s Delivery Service” comes with the following special features on a second DVD disc. Included are:

  • An Introduction by John Lasseter – Intro by PIXAR’s John Lasseter (note: This intro. is on disc one).
  • Original Japanese Storyboards – Watch the entire film but this time with the video showcasing the original storyboards.
  • Creating Kiki’s Delivery Service – (2:26) Hayao Miyazaki talks about the creation of “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and how he ended up being the director and the cities that inspired the creation of the village.
  • Kiki & Jiji – (3:28)Producer Toshio Suzuki talks about Miyazaki before the making of “Kiki’s Delivery Service” while Miyazaki talked about his inspiration for the character of Kiki.
  • Flying with Kiki & Beyond – (2:50) Miyazaki talks about the challenges of creating the animation for the flying sequences and trying to make the scenes look natural.
  • Producer’s Perspective: Collaborating with Miyazaki – (1:48) Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki talks about working with Miyazaki.
  • The Locations of Kiki – (28:34) An excerpt from a Japanese documentary on the scenery of “Kiki’s Delivery Service”
  • Scoring Miyazaki – (7:17) A featurette about Joe Hisaishi’s scoring Miyazaki films and more.
  • Original Japanese Trailers – The original Japanese theatrical trailers for “Kiki’s Delivery Service”.
  • Behind the Microphone – (5:00) Featuring the English dub voice talents talking about their role, their appreciation for Miyazaki and his films. Also, behind-the-scenes of the talent recording their voices.
  • Ponyo – Creating Ponyo – (3:56) Hayao Miyazaki talks about the creation of “Ponyo” and wanting to create a film for young children.
  • My Neighbor Totoro: Creating My Neighbor Totoro – (2:57) Hayao Miyazaki discussing the creation of “”My Neighbor Totoro”.
  • Castle in the Sky: Character Sketches – (2:37) Miyazaki talks about the characters of “Castle in the Sky” and discussing how his audiences are loyal to his films over time.
  • Enter the Lands – Visit the land featuring various small animated Studio Ghibli characters (from all films). Click on a character from that film (note: only “Ponyo”, “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “Castle in the Sky” are available) to get a Q&A or a small video info. of that film and its characters.


Also, included is a postcard featuring Kiki flying high in the air (similar to the image used for the cover).

Similar to “My Neighbor Totoro”, I first watched “Kiki’s Delivery Service” back in 1993 during a Japanese animation club screening at a local mall.  Granted, the film was in Japanese but during that time, many people would gather and watch a lot of animation in Japanese but for Miyazaki films, they were absolutely magical and just beautiful to look at. I can easily remember not knowing too much of what was being said but you can easily understand the storyline.

Here we are over 15-years-later when I first watched the film and even now, I still find “Kiki’s Delivery Service” to be a very magical and beautiful film.  The coming of age storyline of Kiki trying to get her life as a witch started in a bigger city and dealing with life challenges and personal insecurities is the main theme of this film and a theme that everyone can relate to.

Although, the film is not exact to Eiko Kadono’s original novel and at one point she was very unhappy with the direction of how the film was going, fortunately Hayao Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki was able to convince her of why he included these personal obstacles in the film (it’s important to note that the novel was written episodically and the film covers just a few episodes).

I am aware of the DVD’s reception back in 1998 when Disney originally dubbed the film.  Bare in mind that anime fans were not as easily encouraging towards English dubbing of their favorite Japanese animation during that that time period, compared to today.  There are slight differences in dialogue between the Japanese and its English counterpart in that Jiji in the Japanese version featured a female voice actress and also with certain dialogue which Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki did approve.

Overall, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a Studio Ghibli classic that is such a lovely and magical tale.  Featuring gorgeous animation and painted backgrounds, the storyline is heartwarming and captivating.  If you are wanting to catch up on Hayao Miyazaki films, definitely give “Kiki’s Delivery Service” a try.  It’s definitely recommended!

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