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Kiki's Delivery Service (A Puffin Book)

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But while the novel of Howl’s Moving Castle was written by a beloved Welsh author, Kiki began her life in Japan, created and written by Eiko Kadono in 1985. While reading this scene I remember thinking, “You’d better not mess this up, Kiki! What if these two could have ended up together forever, living happily ever after, and you ruin all of that before it begins!” So invested was I in Kiki, Jiji, and their escapades.

The profound loneliness of Kiki’s Delivery Service - Polygon The profound loneliness of Kiki’s Delivery Service - Polygon

Hayao Miyazaki’s 1989 animated feature Kiki’s Delivery Service masterfully handles a lot of traditional topics around growing up and finding a path in the world. But it also touches on a facet of growing up that society tends to overlook: It’s a lonely process. Finding your way is lonely. Separating from a close family unit and making your way in a new place is lonely.I confess to not having read the original English translation (by Lynne E. Riggs) nor to having seen the film in around five or six years, but I’m glad for that. Kiki’s eyes got big and hopeful when she arrived at her new, massive city along the coast. When she first came, many people treated her a bit differently. They treated her as an other and were afraid to get to know her. Just when she was at her lowest and felt a bit hopeless about being on her own in this city, she came up with the idea to do odd tasks and deliver things to people on her broom because she is able to get around so efficiently.

Book Review: “Kiki’s Delivery Service” by Eiko Kadono Book Review: “Kiki’s Delivery Service” by Eiko Kadono

By the end of their movies, the characters have found connections with others, but because we know the depth of their original loneliness, these relationships take on more meaning. They aren’t superficial; they’re deep, necessary emotional connections fostered throughout the whole movie, and an answer to solitude. While it would be possible for this story to leave a sour taste — a witch, heavily judged and shunned, must prove to the locals that she is not, in fact, evil — instead the theme reads a little differently: local people learn from Kiki to be kind and accepting of others, especially those who are unusual. Sending characters off on solo journeys isn’t a particularly innovative storytelling choice, especially for coming-of-age films, which are often about learning self-reliance and independence. But Ghibli films linger on the lonely portions of these journeys. The heroes start out isolated from others, and their separation from the world persists throughout their films, lingering even when they do find company.And so, with a little help from a kindly baker and her husband, Kiki is able to set up a business: Kiki’s Delivery Service, where she primarily uses her broom and her power of flight to deliver and retrieve things for others. From here, she earns the trust of locals by helping them in any way that she can, and the tasks she undertakes become stranger, more hilarious, and more challenging as the book progresses. By thirteen, Kiki has at last decided to head out on her own to find a town. Not every town has a witch, but no town has more than one; and so, Kiki must find her own town. Her mother, after all, is the local witch in her town so now Kiki must become a small fish in a big pond.

Review: Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono | Books and Bao Review: Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono | Books and Bao

Growing up is not easy for a lot of people and being a teenager can be difficult. It is a time when children gain more responsibility and request more independence from their parents. This book perfectly captures this transitional time. It is hard for Kiki’s mother to send her off on her own to find her way as a witch even though she knows deep down its best for her daughter. Kiki is so excited to leave without really considering all the troubles she may run into on her own.Her approach to the situations she comes across are consistently surprising – sometimes mistakes are made; other times ingenious solutions are found. Studio Ghibli’s fourth feature-length film follows a young witch named Kiki who, per witch tradition, leaves home at age 13 to complete her training. Armed with her mother’s broom and her familiar, Jiji, Kiki lands in a new city full of new people and establishes herself as the resident witch. Coinciding with the release of the film in the West, an English translation of the novel hit shelves in 2003. Now, however, we have a fresh new translation for 2020 by Emily Balistrieri.

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