There is no doubt that Studio Ghibli creates timeless masterpieces. One of them, Kiki’s Delivery Service, was released 32 years ago this January. The movie, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, is still full of magic and hidden truths that we can discover over and again if we dive deeper into the animation’s narrative.
Kiki’s Delivery Service tells a story of a young witch, Kiki, who leaves her hometown and family to become an independent young adult and the best witch she can be. The girl has to find her community. She’s a highly-skilled, smart, and inventive young lady. After arriving in the port city, her qualities are quickly noticed by Osono, a warm-hearted woman who owns a local bakery. The character is the first one to welcome the girl with open arms. Once Kiki is settled in Osono’s home, she starts operating an air delivery service from the woman’s store. Working hard, Kiki’s distraction from reality is Ursula, a young artist whom Kiki meets by accident, and Tombo, a boy living in the same ocean town.
The film holds many life lessons for kids. By watching Kiki’s adventures, they can learn about independence, growth, and the value of hard work. As we grow up, however, we notice that Kiki’s Delivery Service can speak to adults as well. One of the most significant themes showcased in Studio Ghibli’s creation is the topic of tolerance.
From the moment Kiki enters the port city and slowly settles down, people look at her differently. After all, the girl is a 13-year-old witch, traveling on a broom without her parents. The town’s residents treat her as an outsider. When the character arrives in the charming ocean town, everybody stops and looks at her. Some with awe, some with confusion, and others with fear. While introducing herself to a crowd of people right after landing, they dismiss her with terror. This scene alone, just at the beginning of the film, says a lot. Although it’s more than 30 years later, we still observe people who fear what’s strange to them.
In the beginning, the only supporters of Kiki are Tombo, Ursula, and Osono. The latter takes on a rather motherly role. The young witch really looks up to her, learning everything she can from the woman. Throughout the film, Kiki is looking for her identity and skills. She isn’t entirely sure of herself; the only sure thing about her is her magic. Only after finding people who support her, Kiki finds herself and is truly happy. It easily relates to matters today. For me, it resonated on a personal level—I saw its relevance when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community. The topic of coming to know your true self is very crucial. Once you discover and accept yourself for who you are, you can be fully yourself—just as Kiki is at the end of the film.
The subject of tolerance is a very significant component of Kiki’s Delivery Service. First and foremost, it teaches the young viewers of its importance in today’s life. But it also reminds the adults of how important tolerance is in modern society. As a community member, I couldn’t help but relate to the narrative and, especially, Kiki’s character on a personal level. Throughout the first 30 minutes of the film, we can experience the witch’s struggle. Luckily, the residents quickly discover how smart and genuine the young witch is. By her impeccable manners and want to be helpful, Kiki gains the town’s trust.
The girl becomes a full-fledged resident of the port city. It further showcases how important acceptance is for a human to grow. The film’s last scene—when the witch saves Tombo—is especially telling. You can see the resident’s awe when Kiki catches the boy at the very last moment before he falls. They are shouting her name and cheering her on. The film’s narrative showcases how important it is to surround yourself with people who value your hard work and commitment. It highlights the fact that diversity between people is what makes the world more beautiful.
Along with the timeless topic of tolerance, there are other components that adults can relate to. One of them is the issue of burnout. Kiki loses touch with her magic. Soon after, she’s unable to fly and falls into depression. As adults, we often feel exactly like Kiki. When we run only on fumes, it’s only a matter of time until we crash. The main character reminds us that we need to take care of ourselves. The work is important; however, not more important than mental stability.
Kiki’s Delivery Service proves itself to be a timeless masterpiece. Even after more than 30 years, we can still find relevance in the film and easily connect it to our personal struggles or even society’s issues. The film provides moral lessons for children and adults. While the world is changing, Kiki’s adventures remain applicable, and the film’s magic still charms us.