Let’s grow up.
Hayao Miyazaki’s coming of age story is a charming adventure where we follow young witch Kiki as she leaves home at age 13 for one year to complete her training as a witch. Only with her black cat Jiji as a companion, Kiki must find herself a new home in a new city. As she faces new challenges alone, she must find out what her passions and drives are if she wants to be a great witch.
The handmade animation provides color and whimsy throughout the story. Miyazaki’s films are always gorgeous, and this one is no exception. I particularly enjoyed the city itself. The cobblestone streets and deep brown bakeries make the city feel alive and timeless.
Kiki quickly realizes that simply being a witch isn’t enough to impress the townsfolk. However, her ability to fly does allow her to open a delivery service. She quickly becomes known throughout the city and makes several friends all while trying to dodge Tombo’s attempts to flirt with her.
As Kiki begins to mature, she must ask herself what drives her. Her path to self-discovery is helped along by her friends, and the whole story is very sweet. There are sadder moments, but the charm of the film carries through these moments quickly.
This is an excellent story to show how people grow and what it means to find yourself. The whole thing is just a charm fest. I’m not sure what a review 31 years later can add to the mountain of praise heaped on this film.
So, obviously, the thing we should do is nitpick it!
One thing that is odd to me about this story is that other than flying we don’t see Kiki develop any “witch” skills. I know this undermines her personal growth and all that, but it is odd that a lot of the magic present in Miyazaki’s work isn’t as present here. For all of the charm and wonder we see within the characters we don’t have any magical creatures. Jiji makes up for this absence in spades (and is voiced by the late great Phil Hartman).
I could see someone not liking that the film is saccharine sweet. The city itself is a romantic and lovely vision of what a community could be, but it is certainly not realistic. (It was also somewhat jarring to watch this right after Akira for this reason). However, for the intended audience I think removing the majority of social strife is probably wise.
Great, even my nitpicks end up being positive.
This is a lovely movie. For fans of Miyazaki, it is a must watch.