Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Movie Review: Kiki's Delivery Service (2014)

Kiki's Delivery Service (Majo no takkyûbin) (2014) 
Being, D.N. Dream Partners, Edko Films, Kadokawa, Kinoshita Komuten, Kodama Printing, Nippon Television Network, Oricon, Studio3, Toei Company, Yomiuri Shimbun, Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation, Japan, China, 2014. 
Kiki's Delivery Service Majo no takkyûbin 2014

Based on the novel by Eiko Kadono (unfortunately the English translations are either sold out or cost an arm and leg). 

Thirteen year old witch-girl Kiki (Fûka Koshiba) must leave home and live one year among normal people. So Kiki and talking cat Jiji move into a small island village. She gets a temporary housing at Osono's (Machiko Ono) and Fukuo's (Hiroshi Yamamoto) bakery. Kiki starts a delivery service that has a bad start as the village kids and grumpy inventor boy Tombo (Ryōhei Hirota) only want to see the witch fly. Not until after doing a job for perky laundry shop owner Sumire (Yo Yoshida) the villagers become interested in the delivery service. Kiki meets also a singer Takara Kami (Yuri) who has lost her will to sing. 
Fûka Koshiba
Kiki and Jiji
Machiko Ono and HIroshi Yamamoto
Osono and Fukuo (at background)
Fûka Koshiba and Yo Yoshida
Sumire's laundry shop
Kiki delivers the packages and everything seems fine. When little hippo Maruko falls ill zookeeper Nazuru (Hirofumi Arai) blames the witch. Kiki gets depressed and loses her flying ability. But Kiki's friends still believe in Kiki and help her to regain her self-confidence.
Takara Kami
Studio Ghibli made a classic anime about the same story in 1989 with Hayao Miyazaki. It is quite unfair to compare the live action film with the anime as the both films have enough differences to make them frrl like different stories although the original source is the same. Even if it was an adaptation of the anime it would still be one of the better ones. The starting point and the structure of the story are the same but the struggles Kiki goes through have different reasons and many characters are different than in the anime. Most crucial difference is that in the anime version Kiki temporarily lost her powers due artist's block and regains them when he must save Tombo. In the live action film the reason is more dramatic as she loses her skills because people are cruel to her and unjustly accuse her for being an evil witch. It is a growing-up story where Kiki must remember what she wants to be and also learn that she can not please everyone. Although the main characters are older than the characters they are performing, the casting of Fûka Koshiba is well-made and she has got the character of Kiki right with right amount of spunkiness and optimism. Ryōhei Hirota as Tombo does not speak much but makes his character interesting through his gestures that slowly make him the friend of Kiki. The live action version is a nice and colourful children's movie, not as masterpiece as the anime version but generally pleasant and nice interpretation of Kadano's stories.
Ryōhei Hirota
The director of the film, Takashi Shimizu, is more known for being a horror director, Ju-On The Grudge- series being the most well known in the West. Although being out of character as a children movie director, there is nothing to complain. It is still hard to believe it is the work of director of "Ju-On" when you watch the bright-coloured and cute story.

Tadanobu Asano, known for many Japanese films such as Zatoichi (2003), Gohatto and  Lupin III (2014), appears as veterinarian Dr. Ishi.
Tadanobu Asano
Dr. Ishi


Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Rie Miyazawa, Machiko Ono, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Fûka Koshiba, Minako Kotobuki, Miho Kanazawa, Michitaka Tsutsui, Miki Hayashida, Ryohei Hirota, Misato Shimizu, LiLiCo, Yo Yoshida, Hirofumi Arai, Yuri, Kirato Wakayama, Suzuko Hara, Fukiko Hara 
Director: Takashi Shimizu 

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