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Anime / Kiki's Delivery Service

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I'm soaring
I'm alone and on my own
I'm soaring and I know my heart will lead me home.

"It's one of our oldest customs that when a witch turns thirteen she has to leave home for a year to begin her training."
Kiki's mother, Kokiri

Kiki's Delivery Service (Majo no Takkyubin / 魔女の宅急便) is a 1989 Hayao Miyazaki film from Studio Ghibli loosely based on an illustrated novel by Eiko Kadono.

Kiki (Minami Takayama) is a witch who has just recently turned 13, which means it's time for her to strike out on her own for a year of training. With nothing but her father's portable radio and her mother's broom, she heads "south towards the ocean" with her talking black cat Jiji (Rei Sakuma). She soon finds a sprawling seaside town called Koriko that does not yet have a resident witch of their own. Upon trying to establish herself, however, she is quickly lost in the sights and wonders the big city has to offer. As she tries to cope with city life, it becomes clear that her witch powers still need some fine-tuning.

Kiki soon meets Osono (Keiko Toda), a local baker, after helping her return a pacifier to a young mother. Osono houses Kiki and, impressed by her abilities, asks her to make a delivery for one of her customers. Soon, Kiki establishes a successful delivery service in the attic of the bakery. As time goes on and her business expands, she continues to refine her magical skills and befriends Tombo (Kappei Yamaguchi), a young boy from a local aviation enthusiasts' club, and Ursula (Takayama), a painter who lives alone in a cabin near the woods. Despite the magical nature of the protagonist, the plot largely revolves around the trials and tribulations of normal adolescence.

The setting of Kiki's Delivery Service is intentionally ill-defined, a Europe where World War II apparently never happened that was inspired by Napoli, Lisbon, Stockholm and Paris. It's a very laid-back and beautiful Slice of Life work that deftly combines light elements of fantasy with real themes of growing up and finding your place in the world — all while managing to have an exciting, action-packed climax at the end. It also depicts more people laughing out of sheer delight than any other film of recent memory.

Around 1998, Disney took a shot at localizing the film nearly 9 years after the movie first came out. They produced a dub with some celebrity voices, featuring Kirsten Dunst in the title role, and also included additional pieces of music (mostly piano solos, as provided by Paul Chihara). The opening and ending theme songs — two iconic Japanese pop songs from the 1960s — were also replaced with more "American pop"-style songs by Sydney Forest. This was also notably Phil Hartman's final original role before his passing, playing the role of Jiji; the dub was dedicated to his memory. Disney's release of the film sold over a million copies on VHS and a later bilingual DVD was met with similar success, cementing the film's popularity in the U.S. A 2010 re-release of the film undid most of these changes, including the ad-libbed Phil Hartman dialog (in particular, a controversial line added to the end of the film).

Another little-known fact is the alternate dub produced by Carl Macek and commissioned by Japan Airlines for in-flight entertainment. Unlike Macek's similar dub of Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro the Streamline Pictures version was never licensed for official release in the North American market.

A live-action film adaptation of the novel was released in 2014, with actress Fuka Koshiba making her film debut as the title character.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Tickle Torture: Kiki sleeps in a pile of hay on a train freight car above some cows. The next morning, the cows start eating the hay and Kiki's bare foot falls through. The cows start licking her foot, causing her to wake up screaming and laughing before pulling her foot back.
  • Actor Allusion: In Disney's English dub. Once again, Kath Soucie and Jeff Bennett play the parents of a precocious child who happens to be the main character.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the original book, Tombo first appears in chapter 5. In the film, he shows up during the scene when Kiki first comes to the city.
  • All There in the Manual: Some things from the book—like why there are bells in the trees around Kiki's house—are never explained in the film.note 
  • All Witches Have Cats: It's implied that every witch has a cat as a mentor, at least during training. Kiki's personal cat, Jiji, is the usual black variety. Senior Witch is shown to have a black cat as well.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Downplayed with Kiki, who's briefly mesmerized by a pair of red dress shoes that are on display in a department store window.
    Kiki: Aren't they pretty, Jiji?
  • The Alleged Car: Tombo and his friends ride around in an old jalopy. At one point, the license tag falls off while the car is idling on the street.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The original release of the Disney dub uses "Soaring" and "I'm Gonna Fly" by Sydney Forest for the opening and ending themes (though the 2010 recut reverts to the original Japanese songs).
  • Ambiguous Time Period: At the beginning of the movie, one of Kiki's friends mentions discos, so it would seem the movie takes place in the 1970s or later, but most of the technology we see looks like it's from the 1950s or earlier. The Disney dub omits this reference, but adds in very 1990s techno music during the scene with Madame's granddaughter, muddying things even further. Also not helping are the dresses Kiki's friends from her hometown wear, which wouldn't look out of place in the Victorian era.
  • Animal Jingoism: Subverted. At first, Jiji is scared of the elderly dog Jeff, but Jeff recognizes that Jiji isn't a toy and helps him escape once Kiki arrives with the actual item, causing Jiji to come around to him.
  • Animal Talk: Jiji can talk to Kiki, but also to other cats, birds, and presumably dogs.
  • Artistic License – Biology: In a few scenes, Jiji is shown sweating profusely. Although cats do have sweat glands, they're mostly in the pads on their feet.
  • Author Appeal: Flying sequences, precipitous heights, the beautiful but thoroughly anachronistic Handley Page biplane airliner. Definitely Miyazaki.
  • Babies Ever After: The ending of the film shows that Osono and her husband finally had their baby. And Jiji and Lily (a.k.a. "Miss Snooty Cat") have kittens. The sole black kitten even joins Jiji and Kiki on the broom (while wearing a safety line!), implying that the kitten will become a witch's cat as well.
  • Bathos: Despite being a shocking and tragic event, the dirigible spiraling out of control is initially presented in a comedic light, with Bertha excitedly watching on as if it's an action movie. The tone becomes more serious once it's revealed that Tombo is dangling from the end of it, but there are moments of comedic relief even then, such as Kiki taking a janitor's broom without permission.
  • Be Yourself: The central message of the film.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A particularly spectacular shot at the climactic event shows Kiki flying to the rescue in a blur, superhero-style.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Most of the background radio broadcasts are in English even in the Japanese version of the film, though listening closely it becomes apparent that none of them are relevant to the story.
  • Blush Sticker: Kiki has them throughout the film.
  • Bookends: The story begins and ends with a scene in Kiki's parents' kitchen, and her mother making a potion in a test tube that turns black in a puff of smoke due to her being distracted by news of Kiki.
  • Borrowed Without Permission: During the climax, Kiki — in a pinch and without her regular broom — asks a street sweeper to borrow his push broom. He's about to refuse, but she grabs it without hearing his answer. Later on, he's seen bragging that Kiki used his broom, and he evidently lets her keep it, as she's seen using it for the rest of the film.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Kiki's frustrated "I'll chop you to bits" got turned into "be a good broom."
    • TV airings often omit Jiji's jocular speculation that Kiki will model naked for a painting.
    • Due to Western audiences generally believing it inappropriate for children to drink coffee, the two dubs alter references to "coffee" to "hot cocoa".
  • Bumbling Dad: Kiki's father is a lovable version.
  • Captain Crash: Kiki's piloting leaves something to be desired when she first leaves home (see Cute Clumsy Girl). By the end of the film, she's become an expert flyer.
  • Captain Obvious: Some of the extra lines in the original version of Disney's dub simply have the characters point out what they're looking at. Lampshaded by Jiji, who gives a snarky response to several of Kiki's comments on the city when they first arrive.
    Kiki: Jiji, look at all the cars!
    Jiji: Yes, lots and lots of cars.
  • Carload of Cool Kids: One of Tombo's friends, an older boy in a hat, drives one. He appears twice with various of Tombo's friends in tow.
    • When Kiki first arrives in her new town, she encounters a rowdy group of kids filling a convertible. It is so full that there are kids on the rear deck, and hanging off the back. This is the first time she meets Tombo.
    • Later on, while Kiki and Tombo are together, Tombo is asked to come along with a smaller group of kids in the same convertible. Much to Kiki's chagrin, Madame's snobbish granddaughter is also in the car. The kids in the car are not outwardly mean, but they do gossip about Kiki, and her self-consciousness makes her feel like she's a Third Wheel. She leaves to preserve her dignity.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Jiji tends to be snippy, sniffy, sardonic, dubious and tactless.
  • Cats Hate Water: Especially getting caught in the rain.
  • Chekhov's News: There's a running news item involving a dirigible. At the climax, it runs into trouble and Kiki must rescue Tombo, who's desperately hanging from a rope on it.
  • Clean Dub Name: In European Spanish, the titular character's name is changed to Nicky — both in the book and the movie — due to "kiki" being a slang term for sexual intercourse, rendering it inappropriate for a children's movie.note  The name of the story itself is consequently changed to Nicky, La Aprendiz de Bruja ("Nicky, the Apprentice Witch").
  • Coming of Age Story: The entire plot of the film, mirrored in Kiki's daily life and especially her struggle to regain her powers after she loses them.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The toy Maki delivers to her sister happens to be a black cat that looks exactly like Jiji, allowing him to take its place when Kiki loses it.
  • Country Mouse: Kiki is from a small town in the country and part of her character growth is adapting to and finding her place in a large city.
  • Creator Cameo: Miyazaki himself appears as an extra in the crowd near the end of the film, in the scene where the man who lent Kiki his broom points her out on TV. Because he's in the extreme top right corner, full-frame cropped releases have him chopped out.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Koriko, the main setting of the film, is a coastal city that clearly takes influence from several European cities but doesn't appear to be any one in particular. A lot of the architecture is based on real locations in Sweden (specifically Stockholm and Visby), but the signage uses an eclectic mixture of languages in a Foreign-Looking Font that resembles blackletter. Aside from that, Osono's bakery is based upon a real bakery in Tasmania; all of the vehicles are LHD, which is the standard in Sweden; there's a San Francisco-style cable car system; and the names of the inhabitants are a mix between Japanese and European.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Kiki, when it comes to flying.
  • Cute Witch: Witches don't come much cuter than Kiki.
  • Daddy's Girl: Kiki, although she also takes after her mother.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jiji. Kiki can occasionally shoot back, too.
  • Death Glare: When Kiki first meets Tombo and finds him annoying. Later on, she and he become good friends.
  • Diegetic Switch: The opening credits are underscored with a pop song that is kicked off by Jiji switching the radio on while Kiki rides her broom. As the credits finish, we switch to a diegetic version of that song playing on Kiki's radio.
  • Digital Destruction: The methods of undoing the Disney dub's Filling the Silence and music changes for the 2010 home video release left the remaining dialogue sounding as if the VAs recorded their lines by speaking into an electric fan. This is most likely a side effect of isolating the vocals from the background music; for some reason, the issue wasn't addressed until GKIDS got their hands on it.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Tombo is a geeky kid who keeps trying to become friends with Kiki, even as she angrily brushes him off. Part of it is because she thinks he's being rude by pointing out her being a witch, when in reality he admires her a lot and is just really bad at showing it. She eventually warms up to him, as she realizes he's genuinely nice and interested in her ability to fly (which she never thought of as anything special).
  • Don't Think, Feel: The advice Ursula gives Kiki, which allows her to regain her powers and save the day at the end.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Or in Kiki's case, flies like crazy. (She gets better.)
  • Dubtitle:
    • Before Disney came into the picture, there was a Streamline dub produced by Carl Macek for use on Japan Airlines. When Disney started localizing the movie for wide release, Ghibli actually gave them a copy of the script from the Streamline dub, and they used it unaltered for their subtitled release. A strange case where the dubtitles are from a completely different dub.
    • The redone GKIDS sub retranslates most of the script, though it takes occasional lines from the Disney dub. A noticeable example is that the sub still doesn't mention the name of Kiki's first customer (Maki), which is spoken aloud in the Japanese audio but omitted from both of the dubs.
  • Dub Personality Change: Thanks to Phil Hartman's improv and delivery, Jiji is much more talkative and snarky in Disney's English dub compared to his original Japanese portrayal, where he was more quiet and cautious.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This was Disney's first English dub of a Ghibli film and it noticeably takes a lot more liberties with the film compared to their later dubs, such as adding new voice lines for scenes that were originally silent, changing a decent chunk of the film's music, including the opening and ending themes to new themes composed by Sydney Forest, amongst other changes. While there are many fans who don't mind and even prefer the changes made to the film, it can be a bit jarring to see the amount of liberties taken with this film in hindsight, considering Disney's later Ghibli dubs stayed largely faithful to the original Japanese releases with very few changes made. However, Disney would later reverse a lot of these changes for their 2010 re-release of the film in an attempt to be more faithful to the original Japanese release.
  • Fantastic Racism: Completely absent in the movie, but in the book there was a lot of enmity towards witches in the past, though in the present the attitude is considerably more positive (although her mother still reminds Kiki to be very careful how she behaves, so there seem to be still some resentment left).
  • Filling the Silence: Occasionally in the dubs, with additional music tracks and Jiji's ad-libbed lines. A lot of it was removed in the 2010 recut.
  • Fireman's Safety Net: At the big climatic rescue, the attending firefighters rush one under Kiki and Tombo so the kids can land safely.
  • Flying Broomstick: Kiki, being a witch, is able to fly on a broom. Since it's the only witch-related talent she has, she decides to start a delivery service via her broomstick. It isn't the broomstick itself that's magical; the witch's power gives it the ability, so any broom works. However, it's implied that the witch's choice of broom can affect her flying, which is the reason why Kiki's mother sends her off with her own broom rather than one Kiki made herself, and why Kiki has trouble controlling the janitor's broom she borrows. If a witch loses confidence in herself, she could lose her magic and thus the ability to fly.
  • Flying Postman: Kiki is a variant of this trope, as she's not a postman, but a witch in training who starts up a delivery service where she delivers various items via her Flying Broomstick.
  • Foreign-Looking Font: All of the signage in Koriko is in a Germanic-looking font that resembles blackletter, complete with tons of umlauts. The actual text is written in a number of languages, including German, French, Swedish, and a weird made-up language. The city is a melting pot of different cultures, but it's mostly based on Stockholm, Sweden, which does not have any history of blackletter use to speak of.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Several involving the dirigible that plays a central role in the climax. When Kiki calls the bakery from a public phone booth, the television plays a broadcast that mentions that it had already crashed in a storm before and has now been repaired. In the Disney dub, this is reinforced as the originally-generic radio broadcasts were rewritten to focus specifically on the dirigible.
    • The weather throughout the movie is... temperamental, to say the least. Every clear night forecast ends up being wrong, with Kiki being caught twice in unexpected rainfall, both times with big consequences for the plot. The sky is noticeably overcast when Kiki arrives at Madame's mansion for the first time, and sure enough, it rains once she leaves. There's also seemingly random gusts of wind, like when the geese warn Jiji during the first delivery. This foreshadows that the dirigible will be caught in unexpected turbulence.
  • Free-Range Children: Amongst witches, it's customary to entirely leave home and move to a new city at the age of 13. Many of the townspeople express surprise at this, although in a less extreme example they still often let their preteen kids roam around town unaccompanied. No harm ultimately comes of any of this.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • All the double-decker buses in the film belong to the Ghibli Bus Company.
    • Similarly, the box of pancake batter on Kiki's table says "Jiburi no Hot Keki" (i.e. "Ghibli Pancakes").
    • The cat mug that Kiki buys early in the movie reappears in the much later scene where she realizes she can't understand Jiji anymore.
  • Friendless Background: A downplayed example. Since Kiki grew up in a small insular town, she's had few friends her age (four show up to see her off) and she's forced to leave them behind. Her closest companion is Jiji, who acts more of a mentor. Part of her growth is learning how to interact with other children.
  • Hate Sink: In contrast to Madame, her granddaughter is portrayed as being a rude and unsympathetic Ungrateful Bitch who is upset that her grandmother made her a herring pie, which she hates, and never shows any appreciation nor thanks to Kiki, nor does she let her in from the rain. Jiji was certainly not impressed by her poor behavior.
    Jiji: I cannot believe they're related. (blows raspberry)
  • The Hecate Sisters: While building a new life in her chosen hometown, Kiki befriends and learns from a young artist, a mother-to-be, and an elderly lady.
  • Heroic Bystander: At the climax, when Tombo is hanging precariously from the dirigible as it flies uncontrollably at the clock tower, an old man opens a door in the clock face. Ignoring Tombo's cries for him to save himself, the old man tries to save Tombo by extending a mop for him to grab.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Or broom, since Kiki didn't have one handy. She politely asks a bystander in a janitor's uniform to lend her his broom, promising to give it back later. She then takes it without waiting to hear his reply (which, in the dub, is actually a no). Later, when a news report shows her saving a falling boy using this broom, he proudly boasts to everyone else in earshot that it was his broom. Apparently, he decided to let her keep it since she can be seen flying on it in the epilogue.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Kiki says this when Ursula wants her to model for a painting. Ursula convinces her that it's not true, and Kiki agrees to do it.
  • "I Know What We Can Do" Cut: Kiki has dropped the stuffed cat she needs to deliver in a nearby forest, and the angry crows living in the forest won't let her come back for it. She needs a way to buy time, so she tells Jiji "there's only one thing we can do..." Cut to Jiji in the stuffed cat's place, much to his displeasure.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Tombo embarrasses Kiki by pointing out "you can tell she's a witch because she always wears that dark dress," which Kiki gets angry about because she's self-conscious about her appearance.
  • Kishōtenketsu: The film is one of most famous examples of this formula: in its first act, Kiki, Tombo, and the city of Koriko are introduced; in the second, we learn more about Kiki's hard-working nature and Tombo's aeronautical aspirations; the twist is Tombo's flying machine accident followed by Kiki suddenly losing her powers; and the conclusion sees Kiki regain her flying powers and rescue Tombo.
  • Laugh Herself Sick: Kiki has a major giggle-fit after she and Tombo crash on Tombo's flying bike, but are overall unharmed.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Zigzagged.
    • Certain details are omitted in cases where they aren't essential to the story. For example, several characters go unnamed simply because it's not terribly important to learn their names, and the specifics of how witch magic works are only ever hinted at in passing mentions rather than being outright explained.
    • On the other hand, the film has a dedication to detailing the minutia, covering things which don't matter from a narrative standpoint but add realism to the story's setting; for example, Kiki waking up and needing to use the restroom, or gathering firewood to help start the fire in an oven. It's this attention to detail that gives the film its distinctive pacing and tone.
  • Leg Focus: Invoked. When Kiki and Ursula catch a ride with an older man, he says he mistook Ursula for a boy based on her outfit. She protests that boys don't have legs like hers, and lifts one up to prove her point.
  • Letterbox: Disney released two widescreen VHSes of this movie (one in 1998 with Japanese audio and English dubtitles, and one in 2003 with English audio), even though they rarely released widescreen videotapes of their own movies.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Justified. Witches may wear only black once they start their training.
  • Lying on a Hillside: The film opens with a scene where Kiki is lying on the grass outside.
  • Magic Skirt: Completely averted; Kiki's bloomers are often visible when she's riding her broom and her dress is flapping about in the wind. It's a non-issue since Kiki has multiple scenes where she's not in her dress, anyway.
  • Market-Based Title: From Majo no Takkyubin (Witch's Delivery Service) in Japanese to Kiki's Delivery Service in English.
  • Melting-Pot Nomenclature: Characters named Ursula and Bertha live in the same city as ones named Osono and Fukuo. Koriko itself is something of a melting pot of different cultures, primarily European, so it makes sense that the people in it would have equally diverse names.
  • Motorcycle on the Coast Road: A propeller-powered bicycle, actually.
  • Muggle–Mage Romance: Due to the nature of witches in this setting, these are inevitable. Kiki's parents are a witch and an ordinary salaryman.
  • Mundane Fantastic: People in the town Kiki arrives at know that witches exist, as does almost everyone in the setting. It's been so long since any were seen in town that there are still a lot of double-takes and pointing, but they get over it pretty quickly. When Kiki is confronted by a policeman as a result of her nearly causing a traffic accident, he merely equates her reckless low flying with jaywalking.
  • Mundane Utility: The basis of Kiki's entire business plan. At one point she remarks to Tombo that she's never even been on a bicycle.
  • Nerd Glasses: Okino (Kiki's father) and Tombo.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Jiji, Kiki's sarcastic black cat.
  • No Antagonist: The film has no active antagonist — the source of conflict is Kiki's inner struggles with growing up.
  • No Name Given:
    • Strangely, Ursula is never named in either the original Japanese version or the Streamline dub. Only the Disney dub actually mentions her name, and even then, it's only said once (by the truck driver she and Kiki hitchhike with).
    • A number of other notable characters are only named in either the script, credits or other supplementary material, such as Kiki's parents (Okino and Kokiri) and Osono's husband (Fukuo). Others aren't even named at all, like the senior witch who Kiki meets during her journey to the city, the policeman who confronts her once she arrives, and both Madame and her granddaughter.
    • Kiki's first customer, the lady who sends the stuffed cat to her sister, isn't named in either of the English dubs. In the Japanese version, her name is mentioned in passing by her sister — it's Maki.
  • Older Than They Look: Jiji is pretty spry and young-looking, but according to the book, he's the same age as Kiki, making him 13 years old- quite an advanced age for a cat!
  • Plucky Girl: Kiki's a poster child for this trope. She's a Miyazaki heroine, after all.
  • Potty Emergency: At one minor point, this serves as Kiki's alarm clock.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The book is episodic with each chapter recounting a separate adventure for Kiki. Ghibli compiled an entirely new plot for the movie by plucking details from here and there throughout the book and reassembling them into a new story. For example, in the book Kiki doesn't meet Tombo until after her rescue flight on the borrowed broom, and the person she rescues is a drowning child at the beach, and the entire arc about Kiki losing her powers due to a lack of confidence (which is half the movie) wasn't in the book at all.
    • A minor example regarding Kiki's design. Artwork from the original book shows Kiki with long, flowing hair. Miyazaki gave her a bob cut for the film adaptation, because long hair would be more difficult to animate flowing in the wind. Her original haircut is referenced on the sign outside the bakery.
  • Psychosomatic Superpower Outage: The crux of the film's conflict revolves around Kiki losing her witch powers. If she can't fly her broom, what's she to do? When she confides in Ursula about this issue, she's told that the problem is probably similar to an artist's block, and will probably go away at some point if she just doesn't worry about it for a while.
  • The Quiet One: Osono's husband, Fukuo. He isn't silent, as he often grunts or whistles, but he only has one line, where he briefly notes the blimp outside.
  • Real-Place Background: The animators visited several old cities in Europe to gather inspiration for the town in the movie, most notably Stockholm and Visby, Sweden. As a result, not only landmarks but also specific storefronts and street signs from these cities are visible in the finished movie. Kiki's bakery was based on a specific bakery in Ross, Tasmania, which has now become a tourist attraction for fans.
  • Reclusive Artist: Subverted in an In-Universe example with Ursula. Despite living in a cabin in the woods as The Hermit, she's quite friendly and later visits Kiki in town.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Whether or not Kiki decides to return to her home town or spend the rest of her life in Koriko is open to interpretationnote . She states to Jiji that she has decided not to leave, but it could simply mean that she isn't giving up.
  • Rule of Three: An added line from the '98 English release, when Kiki almost crashes her broom into a train:
    Jiji: All right, first: don't panic! Second: don't panic! And third: did I mention not to PANIC?!
  • Scenery Porn: Wouldn't be Miyazaki without it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: At the hotel, the man behind the desk asks Kiki for identification after the latter says she is a witch. Kiki leaves immediately after.
  • Shipper on Deck: Osono nudges Kiki to get to know Tombo a little better. Kiki doesn't appreciate it when she figures things out.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The TV announcer shouts "Oh, the humanity!" during the dirigible crash in both dubs, a reference to the Hindenburg disaster.
    • At one point, an animal that looks like Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro can be seen on TV.
    • Similarly, Kiki's shelf in her room holds a dollhouse with images of Mei and Little Totoro on it.
    • The police officer who scolds Kiki for flying in the middle of the street is subtle, referencing Miyazaki's work on Lupin III by having Lupin's face and build.
  • Shrinking Violet: Kiki, when she believes that Tombo's friends don't like her. (It's also attributed to one of the girls' snobbish attitude toward her grandmother.) Later on, she grows out of it.
  • Signature Headgear: Kiki is well known for her huge, red hair bow, which she's rarely seen without. It's modeled on her depiction in illustrations from the original book the movie is based on, which were in turn modeled on fashion illustrations from the early 20th century. The red bow is so well-associated with Kiki that in the end credits of the film, a little girl is seen dressed up just like her, bow included.
  • Slice of Life: Both the movie and the novel, especially the latter, focus on mundane events in Kiki's life as she adjusts to living in Koriko.
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • Maki is Kiki's first customer, and while she only has a speaking role in a single scene, she has a big impact due to the delivery taking up a significant part of the second act and directly leading to Kiki's first encounter with Ursula. She also has minor appearances in a few other scenes, most notably one that establishes her as the owner of Lily, Jiji's eventual girlfriend.
    • Madame's granddaughter is notable for being the Rich Bitch and snooty Foil to her grandmother. She's such a brat that she inspires Kiki's bad mood, which mixes with a long and miserable flight home to result in her missing out on Tombo's party, being sick the next day, and her reappearance during Kiki's outing with Tombo the day after that sours her so badly that Kiki ends up losing her powers.
  • Spell My Name with an S:
    • Madame's maid has her name rendered differently depending on the version you're watching — it's Barsa in most versions, and Bertha in the GKIDS sub.
    • The setting of the film is alternately written in English as Corico or Koriko, though official English material usually goes with Koriko.
    • The kid who receives the stuffed cat has his name written on-screen as Ketto, but the Disney version refers to him as Ket. The GKIDS sub sticks with Ketto.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Tombo comes across this way to Kiki initially, so she avoids him as much as possible. She later realizes that she has misjudged him and becomes his friend.
  • Standard Snippet: An excerpt from "In the Hall of the Mountain King" plays during the bird chase in the Disney dub.
  • Storefront Television Display: After Kiki saves Tombo from a blimp accident, we cut to the town crowd watching the live news broadcast in front of an appliance store, as a janitor brags to the crowd that she was using his broom.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Witchcraft appears to be inherited through the maternal line, and while it's normal for each town or city to have a resident witch, it's not universal. People in Koriko are surprised to see Kiki when she arrives, but more because she's a kid running around on her own rather than because she's a witch.
  • Sweet Baker: Osono fits the standard female baker archetype, being friendly, caring and motherly. Her husband Fukuo also displays some of the standard male baker characteristics as strong, skillful and hard-working, and although friendly is also far more stoic.
  • Tactful Translation: In the Disney dub, when Kiki asks Jiji what the birds are saying about her after nearly crashing into their nest, combined with You Do Not Want To Know.
  • Take a Third Option: When Kiki arrives at Madame's house and her casserole isn't ready because her oven doesn't work. She offers to just pay Kiki for her trouble, but Kiki has the idea of using the woodstove to bake it, and delivers it on time.
  • Take My Hand!: When Kiki rescues Tombo from the Zeppelin, combined with Catch a Falling Star.
  • Talking Animal: Jiji is a talking cat, though it seems that only Kiki can hear his thoughts.
  • Thirteenth Birthday Milestone: When witches turn 13, they leave home to start a year of training to establish themselves and hone their craft.
  • Thunder = Downpour: After Kiki's meeting with the snobby older witch on her broom, we hear thunder rolling and rain immediately sets in.
  • Title Drop: The sign outside the bakery that's put up to advertise Kiki's delivery service. A not-quite example occurs earlier on, when Osono initially suggests the name "Kiki's Flying Delivery Service".
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The American trailer showed the climax of the movie wherein Kiki saves Tombo after getting her powers back. But it's a Slice of Life, so is it really a spoiler?
  • Train Escape: Kiki gets caught in a thunderstorm on her first night away from home, but manages to escape it by hiding in a train freight car.
  • Tsundere: Kiki is type B. She only seems to lapse into Tsuntsun mode when Tombo is pestering her, yet when he invites her to a party, she instantly wants to go. Jiji lampshades this mood swing. ("I thought you didn't like him!")
  • Ungrateful Bitch: After all the trouble Kiki went through to get Madame's dish to her granddaughter, namely spending a long time helping bake it and then flying in the rain, she is rather unconcerned with the fact that Kiki is sopping wet and is not the least bit happy to receive one of her grandmother's pies. Worse, once the delivery is made, she closes the door without so much as offering Kiki a chance to dry off. Suitably, Jiji is incredulous at this lack of consideration. The granddaughter reappears later on and recognizes Kiki — she and her friends talk about her in a positive tone, though their gossiping frustrates Kiki enough for her to storm off.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Downplayed — Kiki stuffs things beneath the top of her dress, but she wears a loose-fitting camisole top underneath, so it's more likely that her dress has pockets on the inside.
  • We Need a Distraction: Tombo rescuing Kiki from the traffic cop.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The ending credits show what happened with Tombo's aviator's club, Jiji and Lily, etc. in the immediate aftermath of the film. The final image is of Kiki's parents reading a letter from her.
  • Witch Classic: Kiki is a witch-in-training. She doesn't wear the pointed hat but does wear a black dress, rides on a broomstick and has a black cat whom she can speak to through magic. Her mother does magic with potions but other witches do things like fortune telling. Witches go on a journey to live alone for a year as part of their training, and leaving on a full moon is considered the best night.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: As Kiki swoops into the main setting.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: In the Disney dub, when Kiki and Jiji are being attacked by a murder of crows:
    Jiji: They're calling you an egg stealer and you don't wanna know what else!


Video Example(s):


Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki gives Osono's husband one of these after seeing the sign he made for her flying delivery service.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheGlomp

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