Kiki's Delivery Service
Directed by Hiyao Miyazaki
A Film by Studio Ghibli
Hiyao Miyazaki is a director of animated movies, and he lives in Japan. However, calling his movies Anime threatens to miscategorize them, since his forte is not the graphically dense science ficiton of his peers. His deceptively simply-drawn characters, consistent use of young girl protagonists, and intrinsic rather than affected use of humor make his movies a category apart from those of modern Anime.
But more than that, Miyazaki's movies are masterful stories. His characters are moving through a world they only partially understand, and we are taken with them every step of the way. While all of Miyazaki's movies are worthwhile (see full list below), Kiki's Delivery Service is the standout.
Kiki is a thirteen-year-old witch in the mythical pseudo-Europe where many of Miyazaki's films are set. Witches in this world must leave home at that age, to find their own way in the world. Sadly leaving her family, Kiki hops on her broom and flies off for an adventure.
Miyazaki loves flight, and Kiki's Delivery Service gave him a perfect opportunity to explore it. Without a crude motor or wings, witches aloft can enjoy flight at their own pace. The movie's sequences of Kiki in mid-sky enchant the audience with their pacific splendor, the rustle of robes, and conversation with fellow witchly travelers.
Upon arriving in a city, apparently in the mid-1930s, Kiki attempts to see how she can get by. Eventually, with the help of a friendly couple at a bakery, she decides to deliver packages via broom, a logical melding of skills (the Japanese title of the film, Majo no Takkyubin, literally means "Witch's Delivery Service."). Along the way, she makes a few mistakes, fascinates the neighborhood flight geek, a big-eyed boy named Tombo, and learns what it means to be on her own.
One of the things that truly sets Kiki's Delivery Service apart from other movies is that there is no antagonist; Kiki struggles to find her place in the world, not to overcome any other person. The fact that there's plenty of challenge and interest in watching that struggle is what makes this my favorite of Miyazaki's cinematic achievements.
Below is a list of the movie-length works directed by Hiyao Miyazaki; all of them are fantastic films. See this website for more information.