Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery Service ★★★★½

When I was young I heard somewhere, probably from Siskel & Ebert, that the greatness of animation as an art form lies in its ability to take the audience to places, and show the audience things, that cannot be done with live action, and I had since adopted that as my general go-to appreciation for the genre. For the most part Miyazaki films have mirrored this understanding, despite their naturalistic tendencies in both form and theme.Kiki's Delivery Service, however, represents the first time I've encountered such an overwhelming challenge to this belief, as aside from flying witches on brooms (effectively realized in The Wizard Of Oz), and crashing dirigibles (likewise in 1975's The Hindenburg), there is nothing here that would necessitate animated cels to convey its story. Takashi Shimizu might agree. And yet it is still just as undeniably transportive as Miyazaki's other classics. Characters are so very real, and innocuous scenes of daily life so dynamically rendered that I don't think there was a time I was conscious of watching something animated. Couple that with the director's very tender and authentic way of dealing with emotions he can't possibly have first hand experience with, and Kiki's Delivery Service becomes not only a highlight in the director's storied filmography, but one of the most incandescent and richly engrossing animated films ever made.

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