Photos - Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery Service feels like to me like a companion piece to My Neighbor Totoro. I'm not entirely sure why this is. Most likely this is because both movies are about personal development, of discovery and exploration of a wider world. The fantasy elements - Catbus and the Totoros, flying brooms - are not the main dish, but a flavorful accessory. These are essentially Italian Neorealist films at their core.

Kiki's first steps into adolescence and adulthood, with all that entails, are honest, compelling, genuine. You can relate to her struggles, as her parental bonds are broken, as she reforges her own identity, as she begins to step away from childhood. In this sense, I guess the "magic" in the film is the magic of youth, or at least that creative inspiration that springs from youth. I really love that line that Miyazaki wrote about creativity being a form of "magic." This isn't the stale fairy tale cliche, but an actual idea you can experience in the real world.

Oh, and I really love that shot of the small girl dressed like Kiki. Nice touch.

This is a really terrific movie, marred somewhat by sloppy American dubs that try to take over the movie (both the Disney and Carl Masek dubs are over-intrusive). The color palette's emphasis on reds and purples results in a washed-out look on DVD, but I'm sure it will look far better on Blu-Ray. The illustrations in the official art book are magnificent, and there's an expressionist zeal that's missing from our old DVDs and videotapes.


asuka said...

have you watched the macek dub? do you have access to it? can you direct eager readers to it on the web somewhere?
i'd give one of my remaining teeth...

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

I saw the "Macek dub" of Kiki several years ago at the Oak Street Theater. It was certainly better than the Disney dub (which, like Castle in the Sky, was far too intrusive), but it still wasn't the best. These are still anime dubs that feel fit to rewrite the script, changing lines or even plot points, and adding in unnecessary dialog during any quite moments. It's based on the assumption that audiences must be distracted every second (to quote Pauline Kael).

Thankfully, dubbed soundtracks have improved considerably over time, but this is still very much an issue.

I don't know if any VHS copy of Kiki with the Macek dub exists, but it's certainly worth a look. Perhaps Ebay would have something.

asuka said...

well, this is very vexing - no sign of any easily available copies in VHS or DVD format of the original english dub on the web at all.

someone somewhere must have the old japanese laser disc, but they don't seem to be selling pirated DVD copies of it anywhere i can find...

i believe everything you say about the dubtrack being intrusive, but still. if a dub exists which many people regard as quite charming it's a shame it's not easier to find.

(little children need dubs and i'm quite a fan of the old totoro dub for this audience, despite its easy-to-identify flaws.)

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