Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4 stars
Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
3.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Kiki's Delivery Service

Street Date:
November 18th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
January 29th, 2015
Movie Release Year:
1989
Studio:
Disney
Length:
103 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Studio Ghibli has given us some of the best animated films to ever grace the big screen. And I would even put those animated features in the running for some of the best films in any category. From 'Spirited Away', 'Princess Mononoke', 'The Wind Rises', and 'Howl's Moving Castle', Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki have brought us some very interesting characters, excellent story lines, and some of the best 2D animation we've ever seen.

It seems like all of these films are timeless and have a lasting effect, which is probably why all of these movies continue to be shown at special screenings across the country. One of the first films from Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki was called 'Kiki's Delivery Service'. It premiered in Japan way back in 1989, but didn't make it to the USA until 1998, when Disney bought the rights and dubbed the film into English with some A-list actors. No matter which version you watch, 'Kiki's Delivery Service' actually delivers a charming and simple story with excellent characters that will stick you for years to come. This is an excellent coming of age story, particularly for teenage girls. While Miyazaki might have told a very simple story with not a whole lot of action, like we've seen in his other films, he definitely hit the nail on the head with almost every emotion Kiki goes through as she is becoming a woman.

The film centers on Kiki, a thirteen-year old girl who goes on a year's quest to become a woman by herself. But she's no ordinary girl. She is in fact a witch, broom and all. KiKi must leave home to develop her witching skills and find out who she really is. She takes her pet cat Jiji. with whom she has regular conversations as they end up in a quaint little town that is as friendly as 'Stars Hollow' on 'Gilmore Girls'. To embrace and enhance her special skill, which is to fly gracefully and fast on a broom, she develops a delivery service with the help of the local bakers in town.

Even though, she's a witch, and she has a few magical powers, Kiki is still a young teenage girl, and is struggling to talk to boys, particularly Tombo, and is trying to make friends. Three of her customers tend to give her life lessons, as they are three different women in different stages of their lives. One of them is an artist named Ursula, who coaches Kiki to learn from her fears and mistakes. This especially comes in to play when Kiki loses her ability to fly and talk with her cat Jiji. But over time and with a little confidence in herself, Kiki might just be the woman she set out to be. And that's the general gist of 'Kiki's Delivery Service'.

I'm sure if this story was in someone else's hands, this teenage witch story would have had monsters, boiling pots of poison, and gothic settings everywhere. But that's not the case here with Miyazaki's opus. There's not much at stake here really, other than Kiki going through adolescence, or healing from a cold, or trying to make new friends. It really is a breath of fresh air to see a story told like this with these simple view points.

And the cast including Kirsten Dunst as Kiki and the late great Phil Hartman as Jiji the cat, along with Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Matthew Lawrence, and Debbie Reynolds all do a great job with their fun and emotional range they bring to the voices here. 'Kiki's Delivery Service' is a very endearing film with a lovable character who seems ordinary, but it so much more. This is one of those films you'll want to add to your collection, no matter what age you are.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Kiki's Delivery Service' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. After 26-years, this excellent animated film still looks impressive. Disney has knocked it out of the park with this video presentation, with cleaning the image up while still staying true to Hayao Miyazaki's original concept art and animation style. This means that Disney did not put this 2D animated feature into the digital car wash. It still keeps its filmic roots.

The animation has a warm and soft vibe to it, as do all Miyazaki's films do. The hand drawn animation looks impressive still with the line art looking amazing and clear. Every detail in the brush strokes and point show up flawlessly here. The colors stand out nicely, but are not overly bright or bold, but rather still the warm hue. Black levels are consistent and inky. There are some minor scratches and debris that pop up, but it's rare. Other than that, this video presentation looks fantastic.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD 2.0 stereo mix in both English and Japanese. There is also a French Dolby Digital 2.0 option if you so desire. Both the English and Japanese track are great. It's just a preference of which track you prefer. The English voice acting has some pretty A-List actors, so the emotional range and voice overs do sound very good.But for some reason, my personal preference is always the original track, which is the Japanese one.

Sound effects and ambient noises are robust and full, especially during the heavier adventure and action sequences. The balancing and prioritization is top notch in these instances, because we are dealing the a 2.0 sound. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow. There were no instances of any pops, cracks, or hissing to speak of either. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is very wide here. No matter which option you choose here, you'll get a full and lively sound, leaving this audio presentation with top marks.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Introduction by John Lasseter (SD, 1 Min.) - Disney Exec. John Lasseter intros the film and tells us why we should be excited to see this.

Ursula's Painting (HD, 3 Mins.) - Here is the origin story of Ursula's painting.

Original Japanese Storyboards (HD, 103 Mins.) - You can watch the entire film with just the storyboards coming across screen with the original dialogue.

Original Japanese Trailers (HD, 8 Mins.) - A collection of trailer for the film.

Creating 'Kiki's Delivery Service' (HD, 2 Mins.) - Miyazaki himself discusses how he came aboard the project and some of his themes he displayed in the film.

Producer's Perspective: Collaborating with Miyazaki (HD, 2 Mins.) - Producer Toshio Suzuki discusses what it was like to work with the legendary Miyazaki on set.

Scoring Miyazaki (HD, 7 Mins.) - Composer Joe Hisaishi discusses his work on the film as well as other Miyazaki movies.

Behind the Microphone (SD, 5 Mins.) - One of the more entertaining extras here is with Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Matthew Lawrence, Phil Hartman discussing their work on the film.

The Locations of 'Kiki's Delivery Service' (HD, 29 Mins.) - This is an excerpt from the documentary, 'The Scenery in Ghibli', in which real life locations are discussed and shown that Miyazaki used in his animated films, particularly in this movie.

Kiki and Jiji (HD, 3 Mins.) - Both Miyazaki and Hisaishi discuss working together on the film as well as discuss the two main characters, and went into production.

Flying With Kiki and Beyond (HD, 3 Mins.) - The crew discuss how they made the broomstick flight look smooth and realistic as well as how this was Studio Ghibli's first big money maker.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives here.

Final Thoughts

'Kiki's Delivery Service' is a pleasant surprise for people who have not heard of the film. Studio Ghibli has come out into the mainstream as of recently, but this film was one of the first to make it big for the studio. It's a fun adventure with great characters and good message that is told beautifully and with grace. The video and audio presentations are both excellent and there are a ton of fun extras, all of which are worth checking out. This excellent animated feature comes highly recommended and is great for the whole family.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
  • French Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles/Captions

  • French, English

Supplements

  • Introduction by John Lasseter
  • Original Japanese Storyboards
  • Original Japanese Trailers
  • Behind the Microphone - English voice cast members Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo and Phil Hartman give voice to their on-screen characters
  • Creating Kiki's Delivery Service - Director Miyazaki discusses how he created the world of the movie
  • Kiki & Jiji - Producer Toshio Suzuki reveals how Director Miyazaki based the character of Kiki on Suzuki's teenage daughter
  • Flying with Kiki & Beyond - The director discusses how he approached Kiki flying
  • Producer's Perspective: Collaborating with Miyazaki - The producer talks about how he worked with the director through the years
  • The Locations of Kiki - The real world locations that influenced the look of the film are revealed
  • Scoring Miyazaki - Composer Joe Hisaishi talks about his approach in writing the music.

Exclusive HD Content

  • Ursula's Painting - A musical montage of Ursula's Painting. The painting was created by junior high school students and used by Director Miyazaki for the film.

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