Hayao Miyazaki may not be as good at realism as his good friend Isao Takahata, but for that he makes up with an excellent sense of storytelling. While Takahata’s movies often consist out of random sketches that don’t really have much to do with each other, Miyazaki creates wonderful coherent stories, that make full use of their airtime, and so far, Kiki’s Delivery-service is one of the best examples of this.
While the concept of a small witch who runs a delivery-service may sound boring, it’s everything but that. Kiki is probably one of the most likable characters that I’ve seen in a Ghibli-movie, and this movie makes sure we see all sides of her, whenever she’s happy, sad, cheerful, determined or down-hearted; she turns into a wonderful character. The themes range from the airplanes, which sort-of became Hayao’s signature, to independence and accepting the different sides of people. This is another gem that’s right for every age that ha the guts to admit to like cute characters.
One downside of this movie is basically the opposite of what you’d expect from a Takahata-movie: it’s too short. I feel like there’s so much more potential left in this story, even though the length is nearly two hours. There are many side-characters that could have easily gotten more development, and Hayao could easily have created more interesting jobs for Kiki to do.
The dialogue for this movie is great and life-like, though some of the plot-twists feel a bit forced. I’m especially referring to the climax, which got introduced in a Deus ex Machina-like way. Also, this being a Ghibli-movie and all, I don’t think I have to elaborate much on the graphics: they rock, especially for a movie that was produced in 1989, the same can be said for the soundtrack.
While I admit that Howl’s Moving Castle had its issues, and Nausicaa may have been a bit too preachy, the other movies from Miyazaki so far have been really excellent. While Kiki’s Delivery Service wasn’t as imaginative as Laputa or Spirited Away, it makes up with an addictive storytelling that really should be regarded as an example.