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This article is about the anime film. For Eiko Kadono's original novel, see Kiki's Delivery Service (novel).

Kiki's Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便 Majo no Takkyūbin?, translated "Witch's Delivery Service") is a 1989 Japanese animated fantasy film produced, written, and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was the fourth theatrically released Studio Ghibli film.

The film won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1989.[1] Kiki's Delivery Service is loosely based on Eiko Kadono's novel of the same name, which is the first in a series published by Fukuinkan Shoten in 1985.

According to Miyazaki the movie touches on the gulf that exists between independence and reliance in Japanese teenage girls.[2] Going far beyond coming of age themes, the work deals with the nature of creativity and talent, and the central difficulty every person faces in becoming themselves, whether through luck, hard work or confidence: the inner film explores the same questions as the later Whisper of the Heart.

It was the first Studio Ghibli movie released under the Disney/Studio Ghibli partnership; Disney recorded an English dub in 1997, which premiered theatrically in the United States at the Seattle International Film Festival[3] May 23, 1998. It was released on home video in the U.S. on September 1, 1998.[4]


Kiki is a 13-year-old witch-in-training, living in a village where her mother is the resident herbalist. It's traditional for witches to live for a year alone when they reach 13. In the opening of the story, Kiki takes off for the big city with her best friend, Jiji, a loquacious black cat.

File:Kiki's Delivery Service Screenshot 01 Kiki and Jiji flying by clocktower.jpg

Kiki and Jiji (sitting on Kiki's back) flying by the clock tower in Koriko just after arriving. It has been noted that the "vibrant" Stockholm-inspired city gives a sense of safety as well as independence.[5]

Kiki settles in Koriko, a beautiful city by the sea. After a hard start, mostly because of her own insecurity, Kiki finds friends and a place to stay. But she has only one witch's skill: her magnificently natural ability to fly; so in order to support herself, she begins a delivery service.

Kiki experiences setbacks, and she must contend with adolescent worries. She is pursued by Tombo, a local boy who's crazy about aviation and has developed a genuine respect for her flying power and a strong liking for Kiki as a girl in general. Kiki eventually warms up to him, but after an unpleasant encounter with Tombo's friends, some of whom she had met earlier under unfavorable circumstances, Kiki's powers to fly and speak with Jiji suddenly diminish and ultimately disappear, leaving Kiki devastated. However, one of her friends, a young painter named Ursula, invites her to stay in her forest cottage, where she analyzes Kiki's current crisis as some form of "artist's block." Since many things had not gone as hoped for, Kiki is experiencing a period of insecurity and loneliness, which resulted in the loss of her powers; but if she finds a new purpose, she will be able to reclaim what she has lost.

Heartened, Kiki returns to the city. While visiting one of her customers, she witnesses an accident in which Tombo is lifted into the air and blown away hanging from a dirigible. In her desperation to save him, Kiki pushes herself to regain her flying ability. Improvising with a street-sweeper's push broom, Kiki manages to reactivate her power and rescue Tombo.

The story continues through the end titles where we see that Kiki is now comfortably part of the life in Koriko as its own local celebrity. She flies in formation with Tombo on his human-powered aircraft. The film closes with Kiki sending a letter to her parents about gaining confidence through difficulties and that she has decided to make this city her new home.


Character Japanese English (Streamline) English (Disney)
Kiki Minami Takayama Lisa Michelson Kirsten Dunst
Jiji Rei Sakuma Kerrigan Mahan Phil Hartman
Osono Keiko Toda Alexandra Kenworthy Tress MacNeille
Ursula Minami Takayama Edie Mirman Janeane Garofalo
Tombo Kappei Yamaguchi Eddie Frierson Matthew Lawrence
The Baker Kōichi Yamadera Greg Snegoff Brad Garrett
Kokiri (Kiki's mother) Mieko Nobusawa Barbara Goodson Kath Soucie
Okino (Kiki's father) Kōichi Miura John Dantona Jeff Bennett
Madame Haruko Katō Melanie McQueen Debbie Reynolds
Bertha Hiroko Seki Edie Mirman Edie McClurg
Senior Witch Yūko Kobayashi Wendee Lee Debi Derryberry


The Kiki’s Delivery Service project started in spring of 1987,[6] when Group Fudosha asked the publishers of Eiko Kadono’s book if they could adapt it into a featured film directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata of Studio Ghibli. Due to the approval of Miyazaki’s film My Neighbor Totoro[7] and Takahata’s film Grave of the Fireflies for production, neither Miyazaki nor Takahata was available to take up the direction of the project at the moment.

File:Kiki's Delivery Service Screenshot 04 Osono and Kiki.jpg

Osono and Kiki serving customers at Guchokipanya Bakery. The name of the bakery was a joke by Eiko Kadono, making reference to Guchokipa, an alternate name for jankenpon, or Rock, Paper, Scissors.[8] In the English dub, the bakery is referred to as Good Baking Pan Bakery.

Miyazaki took up the role as producer of the film while the position of director was still unfilled.[9] During the start of the project and the nearing of Totoro's completion, members of Studio Ghibli were being recruited for senior staff for the Kiki’s Delivery Service project. The character design position was given to Katsuya Kondo, who was working with Miyazaki on Totoro. Hiroshi Ohno, who would later work on projects such as Jin-Roh, was hired as art director, partly because he was requested by Kazuo Oga, who was part of Miyazaki's Totoro team as well.

Although many positions had been filled, the project still lacked a director. Miyazaki, busy with Totoro, looked at many directors himself, but found none he thought fit to articulate the project. Ghibli hired an anonymous screenwriter, but Miyazaki was disappointed by the first draft, finding it dry and too divergent from his own vision of the film. Studio Ghibli rejected this draft of the screenplay after Miyazaki voiced his disapproval.[6]

Finally, when Totoro was finished and released, Miyazaki began to look more closely at Kiki’s Delivery Service. He started by writing a screenplay himself, and since Majo no Takkyūbin was based in a fictional country in northern Europe, he and the senior staff went to research landscapes and other elements of the setting. Their main stops were Stockholm and the Swedish island of Gotland.[10]

Where, and when, is "Koriko"?

Miyazaki has noted that the real town of Visby in Gotland is the main visual inspiration for the city[11]. Fictional Koriko is much larger than Visby. However in the real Visby you can clearly see the unusual tall medieval city walls, the center of the city raised on a hill, and of course the clocktower in the center. Generally the buildings and shops of Koriko have the look of Stockholm, or the old town of a Germanic city such as Munich. The scene in the climax of Kiki flying at street level, is very similar to the colonial-Victorian downtown of Adelaide or Melbourne.[12] The scenery is also somewhat like Edinburgh or Dundee, Scotland.

The film is set in an idealised trouble-free northern Europe of the early 60s - as with most Ghibli films, one of the glories of the film is the impossibly real and detailed scenery, in this case of the stunning city on the sea. The name of the city is not actually used in the movie, and it is often spelled "Coriko" in publications from Ghibli. The time setting for Kiki's Delivery Service was a subject for discussion among the movie's fans for some time: Kiki carries a transistor radio apparently of 1960s vintage, and some characters are seen watching black-and-white television sets, but the cars and some of the aircraft seem to be from an earlier period. Specifically, a plane resembling the Handley Page H.P.42 is seen during the opening credits, although all eight of the H.P.42 aircraft had been decommissioned or destroyed by 1941. The controversy was settled when Miyazaki said the story took place in the 1960s of an alternative universe in which both World Wars never took place.


Kiki and Jiji illustrated by Akiko Hayashi from Majo no Takkyūbin. For the film, Kiki's hair was cut short to make the workload easier for the animators.[13]

Upon their return to Japan, Miyazaki and the creative team worked on conceptual art and character designs. Miyazaki began significantly modifying the story, creating new ideas and changing existing ones.[12] Majo no Takkyūbin, the original children's book by Eiko Kadono that the movie was based on, is very different from Miyazaki's finished film. Kadono's novel is more episodic, consisting of small stories about various people and incidents Kiki encounters while making deliveries. Many of the more dramatic elements, such as Kiki losing her powers or the airship incident at the film's climax, were not present in the original story. Miyazaki made these changes to give the film more of a story, and make the film about the hardships that Kiki faces while growing up; he remarked, "As movies always create a more realistic feeling, Kiki will suffer stronger setbacks and loneliness than in the original".[2]

As a result, Kadono was unhappy with the changes that were made between the book and film, to the point that the project was in danger of being shelved at the screenplay stage. Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki, the producer of Ghibli, went to the author's home and invited her to the film's studio. After her visit to the studio, Kadono decided to let the project continue.[14] Miyazaki finished the rough draft of the screenplay on June 18, 1988, and then presented it on July 8, 1988. It was at this time that Miyazaki revealed that he had decided to direct the film, because he had influenced the project so much.[12]

The word takkyūbin (宅急便, literally home-fast-mail) in the Japanese title is a trademark of Yamato Transport, though it is used today as a synonym for takuhaibin (宅配便, literally home-delivery-mail). The company not only approved the use of its trademark — though its permission was not required under Japanese trademark laws[15] — but also enthusiastically sponsored the film, as the company uses a stylized depiction of a black mother cat carrying her kitten as its corporate logo.[16]

Kiki's Delivery Service was originally intended to be a 60-minute special, but expanded into a feature film running 102 minutes after Miyazaki completed storyboarding and scripting it.[17]


The first official English dub of Kiki's Delivery Service was produced by Carl Macek of Streamline Pictures at the request of Tokuma Shoten for Japan Airlines' international flights.[18] Kiki was portrayed by the late voice actress Lisa Michelson.[19] This dub is only available in the Ghibli Laserdisc Box Set.[20]

Kirsten Dunst voiced Kiki in the 1998 English dub. The English dub was also Phil Hartman's last voice-acting performance (as Jiji) before his death.[21] There is a tribute to Phil Hartman after the Japanese credits and Kiki's letter to home, dedicating the film to his memory. The dub received mixed reviews—although it was mostly showered with praise, other critics and fans jumped on it for its minor alterations. Despite this, the dub has proven popular, selling over one million copies on video.

In Spain, Kiki was re-christened "Nicky", and the film re-titled "Nicky la aprendiz de bruja" (Nicky the Apprentice Witch), because in Castilian Spanish, the phonetically similar quiqui is commonly used on a slang expression: echar un quiqui which means to have an intercourse".

A live-action movie version based on the original books has been set for a 2011 release.[22][23] The film itself has yet to appear on Blu-ray.

Differences between versions

Although the plot and much of the story were translated as exactly as possible, Disney's English dub of Kiki's Delivery Service contained some changes, which have been described as "pragmatic".[24]

An example occurs at the beginning of the movie as Kiki flies away from home. The parents and townsfolk strain to hear one final goodbye from Kiki. In fact, in the Japanese original, there is nothing, only silence. In the English version, we hear a final "Bye!" from Kiki in the distance.

There are a number of minor additions and embellishments to the musical score, and there are a number of lavish sound effects productions over sections which are silent in the Japanese original. For an example, compare the "wild geese" adventure in both versions. The extra pieces of music (provided by Paul Chihara) ranged from soft piano music to a string-plucked rendition of Edvard Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King.[25]

The original opening and ending theme songs were replaced by two new songs, "Soaring" and "I'm Gonna Fly", written and performed for the English movie by Sydney Forest.

The character of the cat Jiji changed slightly. In the Japanese version, Jiji is voiced by a female performer, while in the American version Jiji is performed by Saturday Night Live alumnus Phil Hartman, and also has more of a wisecracking demeanor. In Japanese culture, cats are usually depicted with feminine voices, whereas in American culture their voices are more gender-specific.[26] A number of Hartman's lines exist where Jiji simply says nothing in the original (for an example, compare the scene where Jiji approaches Lili along the top of the wall).

In the original Japanese script, Jiji loses his ability to communicate with Kiki permanently, but in the American version a line is added which implies she is once again able to understand him.[27] Miyazaki has said that Jiji is the immature side of Kiki,[28] and this implies that Kiki, by the end of the original Japanese version, has matured beyond talking to her cat.

More minor changes to appeal to the different teenage habits of the day include Kiki drinking hot chocolate instead of coffee and referring to "cute boys" instead of to "the disco".[29] All changes were approved by Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

The English subtitled script used for the original VHS subbed release and the later DVD release, is also not accurate, but can more accurately be described as a combination of dubbing and subtitle. It is based on the original Streamline dub, and has resulted in several additions from that dub to migrate into the script regardless of whether they are present or not (such as Herbert Morrison's "Oh the humanity!" line during the blimp sequence). This came about because Tokuma gave Disney the script for the original dub, thinking it was an accurate translation, leaving this as the script that Disney worked on.[30]

The English version of the film was dedicated in memory of Phil Hartman.

Third English version

Kiki's Delivery Service received a new Region 1 DVD on March 2, 2010, the same day Miyazaki's Ponyo became available on American home video.

This English audio production is something of a combination of the original Japanese version (which is fairly minimalist and has basic sound effects) and the 1998 Disney English audio production (which has lavish sound effects, some new incidental music, and three or four entirely new lines of dialog, particularly from Hartman).

In the 2010 version, some of the 1998 changes and additions remain and some are gone, reverting to the original audio production. The opening and closing songs from the English version have been changed to the original Japanese pop songs.

Notably, Hartman's final line which implied that Jiji could talk again by the end of the story has been removed.[31]


Kiki's Delivery Service opened on July 29, 1989 in Japanese theaters; the total box office receipts were ¥2,170,000,000[32] ($18,172,849.38), proving to be quite a financial success and the highest grossing film in Japan of 1989.[33] The Japanese DVD was the best selling anime DVD for June 2001.[34]

Upon the release of the English dub of Kiki's Delivery Service by Disney which theatrical premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 23, 1998. In September 1, 1998, it was released to VHS video, becoming the 8th-most-rented title at Blockbuster stores during the first week of its availability.[35] This video release also sold over a million copies.[36] A few weeks later, Disney released another VHS of the movie, this time with the original Japanese soundtrack and with both English and Japanese subtitles. A Laserdisc version of the English dub was also available at this time. The Region 1 DVD was released on April 15, 2003, alongside Spirited Away and Castle in the Sky. It was again reissued on Region 1 DVD in March 2010 along with My Neighbor Totoro and Castle in Sky as a tribute to the home release of Ponyo. The version of this 2010 release was slightly edited to match the original Japanese version.

The conservative Christian group Concerned Women for America boycotted Kiki’s Delivery Service screenings[37] and released a press release on May 28, 1998 titled “Disney Reverts to Witchcraft in Japanese Animation”.[38] Calling for a boycott of The Disney Company, the group said the company “is still not family friendly, but continues to have a darker agenda”.[39]

On September 4, 1998, Entertainment Weekly rated it as Video of the Year, and on September 12, 1998, it was the first video release to be reviewed as a normal film on Siskel and Ebert rather than on the "Video Pick of the Week" section.[35] Siskel and Ebert gave it “two thumbs up”[33][40] and Roger Ebert went on to rank it as one of the best animated films of 1998.[41]

Other reviews were very positive as well. On Rotten Tomatoes, Kiki’s Delivery Service scored 8.1 of rounded up scores, out of a total of twenty reviews.[42]

  • 44th Mainichi Film Competition
    • Best Animated Film
  • Kinema Junpo (Prestigious Japanese film magazine)
    • Best Japanese Film of the Year (Voted by Readers)
  • Japan Academy Award
    • Special Award
  • 7th Annual Golden Gross Award
    • Gold, Japanese Film
  • The Movie's Day
    • Special Achievement Award
  • The Erandole Award
    • Special Award
  • Japan Cinema Association Award
    • Best Film and Best Director
  • Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs (a government agency under the Ministry of Education)
    • Excellent Movie
  • 12th Annual Anime Grand Prix
    • Best Anime
  • Other awards
    • Tokyo Metropolitan Cultural Honor
    • 7th Annual Money Making Director's Award



In 1993, a musical version of the story was produced. Yukio Ninagawa wrote the script and Kensuke Yokouchi directed the show. The role of Kiki was originated by Youki Kudoh and the role of Tombo was originated by Akira Akasaka. Akasaka was replaced by Katsuyuki Mori (of SMAP fame) within the year. There was a cast recording produced by the original cast, and the show was revived in 1995 and 1996.[citation needed]

Notes and references

  1. [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Hayao MIYAZAKI Web. The Hopes and Spirit of Contemporary Japanese Girls By Hayao Miyazaki 1989. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  3. Robogeek's Report on Miyazaki and KiKi!!! by Robogeek May 28, 1998. Retrieved on 2007-01-04.
  4. English VHS Video release. Retrieved on 2007-03-25.
  5. Helen McCarthy Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation pub Stone Bridge Press (Berkeley, CA) 1999 ISBN 1 880656 41 8 pages 144 and 157
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Art of Kiki's Delivery Service: A Film by Hayao Miyazaki, "Part One: In the Beginning", Page 8. VIZ Media LLC; 1 edition (2006-05-09) ISBN 1421505932, ISBN 978-1421505930. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  7. My Neighbor Totoro Frequently Asked Questions. "I heard that it was double-featured with 'Grave of the Fireflies' in Japan. Is this true?" Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  8. Kiki's Delivery Service Frequently Asked Questions. "I heard that the name of the bakery was supposed to be a joke. Is it?" Retrieved on 2007-01-06.
  9. Kiki's Delivery Service Frequently Asked Questions. "I heard that Miyazaki was not supposed to direct 'Kiki'. Is it true?" Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  10. (French) La forêt des Oomus Kiki, la petite sorcière Koriko. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  11. Hayao Miyazaki. (3 February 2010) (in English and Japanese) (DVD). Creating Kiki's Delivery Service. Disney Presents Studio Ghibli.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The Art of Kiki's Delivery Service: A Film by Hayao Miyazaki, Part One, In The Beginning, Page 11. VIZ Media LLC; 1 edition (2006-05-09) ISBN 1421505932, ISBN 978-1421505930. Retrieved on 2007-01-02.
  13. The Art of Kiki's Delivery Service: A Film by Hayao Miyazaki, Part Two, Art Of Animated Film, Page 32. VIZ Media LLC; 1 edition (2006-05-09) ISBN 1421505932, ISBN 978-1421505930. Retrieved on 2007-04-22.
  14.'s FAQ on Kiki's Delivery Service Retrieved on 2007-04-21.
  15. Institute of Intellectual Property "Overview of Japanese Trademark Law by Dr. Shoen Ono." Retrieved on 2007-02-11.
  16. "IBM e-business: jStart Program: Case studies: Web services: Yamato Transport Group.". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12.  Retrieved on 2007-01-04.
  17. The Art of Kiki's Delivery Service: A Film by Hayao Miyazaki, Part One, In The Beginning, Page 12. VIZ Media LLC; 1 edition (2006-05-09) ISBN 1421505932, ISBN 978-1421505930. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  18. Kiki's Delivery Service News-Old
  19. Kiki's Delivery Service (movie) - Anime News Network
  20. FAQ // Kiki's Delivery Service //
  21. RevolutionSF Kiki's Delivery Service Reviewed by Kevin Pezzano April 27, 2003. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  22. Anime News Network Article New Kiki's Delivery Service from Disney, Retrieved on 2007-06-06
  23. IMDB In Development project, Retrieved on 2007-06-06
  24. A Comparative Analysis Of Requests in Majo no Takkyūbin and Kiki's Delivery Service
  25. Otaku World Reviews: Kiki's Delivery Service from Disney Reviewed by Jennifer Diane Reitz. Retrieved on 2007-01-02.
  26. Stomp Tokyo Video Reviews - Kiki's Delivery Service
  27. The Art of Kiki's Delivery Service: A Film by Hayao Miyazaki, Part Four, The Complete Script Of The Film by Hayao Miyazaki, Page 205. VIZ Media LLC; 1 edition (2006-05-09) ISBN 1421505932, ISBN 978-1421505930. "Central Park. Jiji weaves his way through the crowd. Cameras everywhere. Kiki amazed by the flood of camera flashes. Jiji skips into the frame, leaps onto her shoulder and meows over her shoulder. KIKI: Jiji! JIJI: Meow- Of course, his voice will never return. but it doesn't matter anymore... Kiki smiles and rubs her cheek against his." Retrieved on 2007-01-02.
  28. The Art of Kiki's Delivery Service: A Film by Hayao Miyazaki, Part Two, Art Of Animated Film, Page 45. VIZ Media LLC; 1 edition (2006-05-09) ISBN 1421505932, ISBN 978-1421505930. Retrieved on 2007-02-11.
  29. Original Japanese script at [2]. Line in Japan is "But there'll be a disco there, won't there?" This line is not present in the English dub. Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  30. Kiki's Delivery Service FAQ Q: Is there an English subtitled version of "Kiki"? Retrieved on 2007-03-04
  31. Review of 2010 DVD for Kiki's Delivery Service
  32. Online Ghibli Kiki's Delivery Service: Review/Synopsis by Doraneko Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Kiki's Delivery Service (Majo no Takkyubin) by Marc Hairston November, 1998.". Archived from the original on 2007-08-20.  Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  34. "Anime Radar: Anime Info for the Otaku Generation". Animerica (San Francisco, California: Viz Media) 9 (12): 18. 2001. ISSN 1067-0831. OCLC 27130932.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  35. 35.0 35.1 Kiki's Delivery Service on DVD from Criterion: A Pipe Dream? by Steve Brandon.[dead link]Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  36. Reviews & Articles Archive "Houchi Sinbun, September 29, 1998". Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  37. Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation by Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press, September 1, 1999, ISBN 1880656418, ISBN 978-1880656419, Page 143. Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  38. Majo no Takkyubin Kiki's Delivery Service News (Old) May 28, '98 Headline. Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  39. "Disney Reverts to Witchcraft in Japanese Animation" by Concerned Women for America archived on Internet Mutual Aid Society. Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  40. Reviews & Articles Archive Siskel and Ebert, September 13, 1998. "Siskel: "Two thumbs up for 'Kiki's Delivery Service'. A delightful animated feature new in video stores." Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  41. Reviews & Articles Archive Chicago Sun-Times, December 27, 1998 by Roger Ebert. Retrieved on 2007-01-03.
  42. Rotten Tomatoes Kiki's Delivery Service (1989). Retrieved on 2008-09-06.
  43. Credits // Kiki's Delivery Service //

External links

ar:كيكي لخدمة التوصيل cs:Doručovací služba slečny Kiki da:Kiki - den lille heks eo:Majo no takkyūbin (filmo) ko:마녀 배달부 키키 hr:Kikin servis za dostavljanje id:Kiki's Delivery Service it:Kiki consegne a domicilio he:שירות המשלוחים של קיקי ka:კუდიანის საფოსტო სერვისი la:Majo no Takkyūbin hu:Kiki – A boszorkányfutár ms:Kiki's Delivery Service nl:Kiki's Delivery Service pl:Podniebna poczta Kiki pt:Majo no takkyûbin ru:Ведьмина служба доставки simple:Kiki's Delivery Service fi:Kikin lähettipalvelu sv:Kikis expressbud tl:Kiki's Delivery Service th:แม่มดน้อยกิกิ uk:Відьмина служба доставки zh:魔女宅急便