004/2019 – Kiki’s Delivery Service
(Hayao Miyazaki/1989/Japan/105 mins)
There is never a wrong time to say, “Animation films, especially the ones made by Studio Ghibli, are never meant just for children”. There is a retrospective quality to the stories which director Hayao Miyazaki tells through his cinema. We recall all the nice and not-so-nice feelings of adolescence we forgot somewhere along the way to our adulthood. Kiki’s Delivery Service is another such gem of a film reminding us of the awkwardness of growing up, making friends, feeling accepted, and exploring our independence. Kiki’s story is something all of us have been through during our teenage years to emerge wiser and stronger.
Kiki is a 13-year old with special powers looking forward to spending life away from her parents as a “trainee witch” of sorts. As she moves to a city along the coast, she experiences the ups and downs of life meeting new people, discovering her strengths, and appreciating her uniqueness. It is a world where witches and regular mortals co-exist and World War II never happened. It is Miyazaki’s way of telling us where we could have been if we didn’t fall prey to ideas of societal divisions and succumbed to violence; profound words from someone who has seen the devastating effects of war up close.
However, contrasts between urban and rural lifestyles, and traditional and modern values are shown to be in minor conflict, keeping the story very real and identifiable, rather than fairy-tale like. Kiki’s parents know she has to leave home, but they try to delay her departure for as long as possible. Kiki wants to dress up in fancy clothes like the other girls, but she continues to wear a black dress to honour the tradition of witch training. Her at once wanting a social life as well as shunning any contact with new people is something all introverts will understand. Such a fascinating watch it is, all the action tempered with moments of quiet reflection.
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