Kiki's Delivery Service
I'll start off this review by admitting I'm surprised that I didn't get around to watching Kiki's Delivery Service much sooner. Even after Disney released it on video, it still took me over six months to get my act together and rent it. And quite frankly, I have no idea why it took me so long to watch this Miyazaki masterpiece.
Anyone who had any doubts about Disney's handling of this movie needn't worry any longer. The English voice-acting was superbly done, as can only be expected of Disney. Now some purists may complain about the slightly modified script (Oh no! She's drinking hot chocolate instead of coffee!), or the fact that the music was changed, but Disney even did the unexpected and released a subtitled version, so I really think no one has anything to complain about.
At its core, Kiki's Delivery Service is a charming, magical, and delightful tale of a young girl (Kiki) setting out on her own, and discovering the challenges and triumphs of independent life. And for such a tale to succeed, the characters must exhibit believable and engaging qualities, which, of course, they do in earnest. Kiki is an utterly charming and cute little witch, who strives to prove to others that she is capable and dependable. And she aptly demonstrates her resolve, even in some very trying situations. No witch would be complete without a black cat, and Kiki is accompanied an obsidian feline named Jiji. Jiji's presence in this movie is obviously for comic relief, made even more blatant given that the late Phil Hartman played his role. I can't say I really cared much for Jiji, and found his sarcastic wit a bit tiring. There are numerous other cast members, ranging from good-natured people with whom Kiki become friends, and also a few less-than-pleasent individuals whom Kiki encounters, as well. The fact that there are a range of personalities present in the story gives it a believable and realistic edge (even given that Kiki spends most of her time flying around on her broom ^^).
Anyone who watches anime for the artistic side will be in absolute heaven here. The artwork is nothing short of spectacular, combined with some very fluid animation. Backgrounds are rendered with painstaking detail, and watching Kiki zoom around on her broom was very uplifting and exhilarating experience.
There isn't really much to complain about, but anyone who prefers Miyazaki's more epic tales like Nausicaa and Laputa may be somewhat disappointed, and possibly even bored by Kiki's slower pace. Kiki's focuses more on character development, rather than building an epic plot, and anyone expecting a dramatic finish on the scale of Nausicaa may end up being rather underwelmed.
The end result, though, is that Kiki's Delivery Service is a nice, simple, charming little tale about a girl witch and her cat. Anyone who wants something relaxing and enjoyable should definitely give it a look.
The Verdict: * * * * 1/2 (very good)
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