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Kiki's Delivery Service

Warning: This article may contain spoilers Kiki's Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便 Majo no Takkyūbin) is an animated fantasy movie written, produced and directed by Hayao Mizyazaki of Studio Ghibli. It was released in 1989. Miyazaki based the film on the novel with the same name. The movie was released in the United States in 1998, distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

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The story

Kiki is a young and insecure witch living in a small village. Her mother, also a witch, is a herbalist as her witch specialty. As a part of the training to become a witch, she has to leave the house at 13 and move to a city without a witch. The witch has to stay there for three years to complete her training. Every witch has a specialty, but Kiki didn't learn anything except flying on a broom. Kiki decides to leave on a full moon, together with her black cat, Jiji. Kiki is able to talk to her cat.

She made her own broom, but Kiki's mother thinks it is too small so she gives her broom to Kiki. It is an old broom, but according to Kiki's mother it's been through a lot. So she takes her mother's broom, her father's radio (she loves the radio) and leaves on a quest.

When Kiki leaves to find a city, she sees another witch. After a short talk the witch goes to her city, and it suddenly starts to rain. Kiki has to find shelter, so she hides in a railroad car with hay in it. When she wakes up it stopped raining, and Kiki and Jiji return to the quest to find a city. They see a big city near the ocean, called Koriko, and they decide to see if there is a witch in Koriko. When they find out there is no witch, they claim the city.

When she flies through the street, she almost causes a car accident, and a police man chases her. She is saved by a boy of roughly the same age, who distracts the cop. When the boy finds Kiki later, he introduces himself as Tombo and wants to talk to Kiki, but Kiki just thanks him, says its rude to talk to a girl without knowing her name and leaves without any further talk. She doesn't enjoy her stay so far, but decides to find a hotel room.

When she is denied for being without any parents or identification, she walks through the city, thinking about leaving the city. She is near the Gütiokipänja Bakery, and a customer leaves without her baby's teat, Osono, the bakers owner who is also pregnant, wants to return it to her, but she is too far away. Kiki offers to return it on her broom, and is back very quickly. Osono offers Kiki shelter in an empty room in the bakery, if she helps Osono and her husband Fukuo in the bakery. Kiki gladly accepts.

Kiki cleans the dusty room, and Jiji asks if she wants to find another city, but she refuses. They go to bed. The next day Kiki decided to set up a delivery service, since all she can do is fly. Osono fully supports the idea, and offers her permanent stay in the room, as well as breakfast, in return for help at times.

Kiki now decides to do some grocery shopping. She buys a food, tableware a map and some other stuff. It is very expensive for her, so she realizes she needs some customers quick. With some help from Osono, Kiki gets her first customer who wants Kiki to deliver a cat doll, which looks exactly like Jiji, to family just outside the city. Kiki gladly accepts but didn't have any prices for the delivery yet, so the customer offers a large sum of money.

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Kiki immediately leaves for the assignment. When she leaves the ground, Tombo sees her and asks Osono if she knows her.

Kiki decides to fly very high to avoid any interaction with the police. She is really happy, and flies really good. They see some geese and decide to fly with them for a while. The geese talk to Jiji and tell them to fly higher because a big wind is coming. Kiki doesn't quite understand it and raises altitude too late. She gets struck in the wind gust and her package falls. She reaches it just in time, but lands in a tree, right next to a raven's nest. The raven thinks she wants to steal her eggs, and she attacks Kiki and Jiji. They flee, but Jiji notices that the kitten doll fell out the package. They try to find it in the woods but a big group of raven go after them. They can't go in just yet, but if they wait they will be too late with delivering it. They have to think of something.

Kiki suggests that Jiji, who looks just like the doll, goes in the package and once Kiki recovers the doll, she will switch them. Jiji refuses at first, but has no choice so he has to accept. Kiki delivers the package with Jiji in it, and immediately sets off to the woods. Jiji is left in the house, together with a big dog. Jiji is afraid of dogs (since he is a cat), so he is scared to death.

Kiki walks through the woods, looking for the doll. She sees a wooden house with the cat doll in the window. Bingo! She shouts to see if anybody is home, and hears somebody on the roof. When she looks on the roof she sees a female painter painting raven. The painter, named Ursula, orders Kiki to wait for a while and then asks her what she wants. Kiki tells about the doll and she decides to give it back. However, Kiki notices that the head is almost ripped off, so Ursula offers to fix it. She makes a deal with Kiki, if she cleans the house she will fix it.

When the doll is fixed, Kiki can go to Jiji, even though the house isn't completely clean. Kiki and Ursula became friends in the meantime, and Ursula tells Kiki to visit her again soon. Kiki rushes to Jiji, and when she is there the dog walks out the house with Jiji in his mouth. It turns out that the dog wanted to help Jiji, and he offers to return the doll to the house. It all turned out alright. When she returns to the bakery, she sees a custom made bread in the window, with her and Jiji on a broom. Fukuo made it for Kiki and she is extremely happy.

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The next day it is a very slow day, and Kiki is waiting for customers. Right at that moment Tombo walks in. Kiki doesn't want to talk to him, but she has to since he is a paying customer. He orders a cookie and also invites her to a formal party from his “Flight Club”. Right before she can answer a customer walks in with a package to be delivered. Tombo leaves and tells her to decide by six. Once she handled the other customer she runs to Osono and asks what to do about the party. She thinks her dress isn't formal, but Osono assures it's perfect. She then leaves for the delivery. She also got a phone call for another delivery, she has to pick it up at a big house first. Once she delivers the first package, she goes to the other house, where she was expected to be at 4:30. She is right on time, but the package, a cake, isn't ready yet. This is because the modern oven was broken.

The old lady, who is baking the cake, offers her money anyway, but Kiki won't accept it. She offers to use the old oven, but the old lady says it will take too long. Kiki insists anyway, and says she will help. It is a struggle to get it too work. First Kiki has to gather wood, then light it and wait for it to burn. This takes a long time, so she offers to do other chores, like changing a light bulb. She says she will have enough time if she can leave a quarter to six, so she can deliver the package and be in time for Tombo's party. However, at 05:40 the old lady tells Kiki the clock is 10 minutes slow. She has to hurry, so she grabs the cake out of the oven and rushes to the old lady's granddaughter, where she has to deliver the cake. Just as she goes outside it starts to rain very hard. When Kiki arrives at the granddaughters house she is soaked. Meanwhile, Tombo goes to the bakery to wait for Kiki.

As Kiki rings the granddaughters door, the granddaughter turns out to be very conceited, and it very unhappy with the cake. She does not like her grandmother's cakes. Kiki is shocked, and her confidence hit an all time low. She slowly flies home, and Jiji asks about the party. Kiki doesn't answer. As they reach the bakery, Jiji sees Tombo walking away, but Kiki doesn't seem to care. Osono asks Kiki if she is going to the party, but Kiki says she can't go when her clothes are all wet. Kiki seems to have a bad fever and she instantly goes to bed.

The next morning Osono checks on Kiki and finds out she is sic, so she makes her some milk gruel. Osono tells that Tombo came by the store and asked if Kiki was okay, he also asked if he could come by another time, but Osono told her to not do this, since Kiki wouldn't want that. The next day Kiki is all better and is making breakfast. In the meantime, Jiji sees another cat and instantly falls in love.

Osono has a small delivery for Kiki, but it is on walking distance. When Kiki calls Jiji for work, Jiji pops up with his new found love, who is called Lily. Kiki says Jiji doesn't have to come with her this time. While Kiki is searching for the right house, she walks by the sea. While looking at the sea Tombo sees Kiki. It turns out the delivery was for Tombo. Kiki knows that Osono set the meeting up. Tombo says he wants to show Kiki something. He opens his garage and a bike with a big propeller shows up. It turns out Tombo and his flight club want to make it into a working airplane. After showing the bike, Tombo offers to take Kiki to the big airship which landed on the beach. Kiki hadn't heard of it, but wants to come. This is also the first time she is on a bike.

When they are going downhill, they almost hit a car, but Tombo manages to jump over it with his bike. When they are in the air, with the propeller at full speed, they are actually flying. Tombo is amazed by this, but his amazement doesn't last long. Another car passes by and they have to jump / fly of the ledge. While they are going down, the propeller lets loose and they fall down. They seem to be all right after the big fall. Kiki thinks all of this is hilarious.

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After that they watch the sea and the airship. When they are sitting on the beach, a group of Tombo's friends drive by, and say they are allowed to visit the airship from the inside. Tombo asks Kiki to come too, but when Kiki sees that the old lady's granddaughter is in the group of friends she gets very angry and isn't very confident about the whole situation, so she refuses Tombo's offer and goes home.

At this point, everything seems to be going very bad. The radio is completely in English (instead of Japanese, so she can't understand it), she is feeling down and Jiji doesn't talk Japanese anymore. All he does is meow. Jiji also wants to be with Lily instead of Kiki, and he doesn't show up for dinner on time anymore. When Kiki asks Jiji to be on time for dinner and talk like a human, he just meows at her. At this point she knows something is wrong. She thinks she might have lost her powers, so she takes her broom and tries to fly. After a few failed attempts in her room, she thinks she should try it outside. She runs of a hill , jumps up in the air… and falls down. When she gets up she notices her mother's broom is destroyed! Right now she doesn't even have a broom anymore! It seems all her magic is close to gone. When she is telling Osono the airship flies by, with Tombo inside waving to Kiki. Tombo calls Kiki to tell about the flight in the airship but Kiki doesn't want to hear it, so she asks him to never call her again and hangs up. After she hung up Tombo even invites her to go on a flight with him, but she didn't hear it!

Right at this time Ursula comes by the bakery and greets Kiki. Ursula was going to stock up on supplies and decided to meet with Kiki. When she tells Ursula that she lost her magic, she invites her to go to her place for a night. Jiji would rather be with Lily, so he doesn't come with them. Once they arrive at the house Kiki sees a huge painting and she is astounded by it. Ursula asks Kiki to be a model for the painting. Ursula tells Kiki that she sometimes has problems with painting. Sometimes her paintings don't look good, but she keeps trying and trying. She also takes breaks from time to time, and then all of a sudden the urge to draw comes back. This makes Kiki wonder if she will ever have the urge to fly again.

After the sleepover Kiki calls the bakery to tell she is coming back. Osono tells her that the old lady wants to see her again, so she stops by there before she goes to the bakery. The old lady is watching television with her clerk Bertha. The airship is on live television, it's repaired and ready for takeoff. The old lady has a gift for Kiki. When she opens it a cake with her and Jiji on a broom. Kiki loves the cake.

Then something terrible happens on the television. The airship seems to crash because of a huge wind. People try to stop it from going in the air, by handing on to a rope attached to the airship. At the end everybody lets go except one little boy, Tombo. The airship goes in the air with Tombo hanging on it. Kiki has to save Tombo, so she leaves the house and runs towards the airship.

Kiki sees a cleaner with a broom, and asks if she can borrow the groom. She tries to fly and she succeeds! She is up in the air and ready to save Tombo. She is, however, flying very clumsy, bumping into every house. When she is flying towards the airship it crashes into a great bell tower, and Tombo is almost falling down. Kiki is getting very close and ready to save him, the broom however isn't helping. Kiki is making salto's and doing all kind of weird stuff on the broom, and Tombo falls down. Kiki flies down and just catches Tombo's hand. They are both save! They land on a landing platform and everybody cheers for them. Jiji jumps on Kiki's shoulder, but is still meowing instead of talking.

Right at this moment, Osono's baby is coming. This is the official end of the movie. The ending credits show some nice extra's to the movie. It show Tombo into a fully built air bike, Kiki flying on the broom she saved Tombo with, Osono and Fukuo with their baby, Kiki talking to some of the girls from Tombo's club and Jiji and Lily even have a family! Kiki's delivery service is still going strong. After the ending credits Kiki's parents receive a letter from her where she says everything is fine and she finally has some self-confidence.

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Additional information about the story

- Kiki's magic powers seem to be boosted when she has a lot of self-confidence. That's why she could fly very good after her first couple of jobs, but she nearly lost all her powers when her self-confidence plummeted.

- Kiki doesn't seem to be able to talk to Jiji at the end of the movie. Even though it's not explained in the movie, the book where the movie is based on states that they both grew up. Jiji was the childish side of Kiki, and she wasn't a child anymore after the movie. She still has a good relationship with Jiji, but they also have different relationships besides that. Kiki with Tombo, Urusula, etc. and Jiji with Lily and his family.

- Ursula's painting was painted by the students at a special school for challenged children. It is titled “The Ship Flying over the Rainbow”. Miyazaki added Kiki's face to it.

- In the English version of the movie there is an extra line added at the end of the movie. Jiji jumps on Kiki's shoulder and says “Kiki, can you hear me?”. This line is not in the original movie, but seems to be added to show that Kiki did indeed regain all her magic powers.


Movies | Studio Ghibli


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