True story. One of my closest friends happens to share the same name as this film’s lead protagonist, Kiki. And that’s where the similarities end. First off, my friend is a 25-year-old man of Mexican descent currently studying child education who works in an after school program, not a 13-year-old Japanese girl learning to be a witch who has her own air-mail delivery service. My friend drives a car, not a broomstick. At the age of 13, my friend had a pet rabbit named Smokey who ate her babies. He never had a very non-cannibal natured black cat named Jiji. Also, my friend is a living human being, not a cartoon.
The best part about this movie is its lack of complexity. How refreshing it is to see lessons on confidence and learning to grow become fully realized without the hinderance of such commonly used antagonistic archetypes such as a “villain” or someone who is just plain mean. At just about every turn there was a potential opportunity to add a layer of conflict or drama, and yet, it never went there. Thank goodness.
It is only in the final act where a wrench – or in this case, an out-of-control dirigible – gets thrown into the plot. It doesn’t take a well-weathered cinema-goer to figure out how this one ends though. Up until this moment, the most stressful situation Kiki had to face was trying to get home in time to go to a party. In context with the rest of the movie up to this point, the suspense felt in this final sequence comes off as minimal, which is not at all a bad thing.
Once again, the animation is fantastic at every turn. With this being only my second Studio Ghibli animated feature, I think I’m beginning to enjoy watching director Hayao Miyazaki‘s rendering of wind more so than seeing actual wind.
While I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s screening of Castle in the Sky, I have to say, it’s going to be hard to top this one.