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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "Kiki's Delivery Service" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein

Kiki's Delivery Service

Studio: Walt Disney
Year: 1989
Rated: G
Film Length: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English

I sometimes have to stop and think about the fact
that I am a man nearing my 40th birthday and I am
finding myself spending way too much of my time
watching animated films. Though I am certain that
others in my age group would sort of look down on
what I do with my free time, I am certainly proud
of the fact that I have recently discovered two
terrific animated gems that have already left
lasting impressions in my mind.

Up until yesterday I had never watched a Japanese
animated film (better known as "anime"). After
just completing Miyazaki's Spirited Away
and Kiki's Delivery Service, I find myself
completely enchanted by these fanciful and entertaining
tales filled with beautiful imagery that is so
very uncommon in domestic animated releases.

Disney bought the rights to the Japanese animated
classic Kiki's Delivery Service and added
dubbing by American stars, including Kirsten Dunst,
Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo and Debbie Reynolds.
On April 15th a 2-disc presentation of the film will
be released to DVD.

Written, directed, and produced by Hayao Miyazaki,
this is the story of Kiki (Kirtsen Dunst), a spunky
girl who also happens to be a witch. By tradition,
upon reaching her 13th birthday, a witch must spend
a year out on her own. Her year away from home
is for the purpose of independent self-training as
she works on developing a single magical talent.
Along with her black cat, GiGi (Phil Hartman), Kiki
must settle down in a new city.

Kiki finds her way to a good sized town, and is taken
in by a kindly baker who offers her a room above the
bakery. In order to help pay for her boarding, she
sets up shop as a one-girl flying delivery service.
This sets her on all sorts of interesting adventures
and misadventures.

Filled with some of the most stunning animation I
have ever seen, this is a gorgeous film to look
at. I can't tell you how many times my jaw dropped
while looking at the film's lifelike backgrounds and
characters that look so real that you often forget
they are hand-drawn animated. I have never seen
as much detail in an animated film as I have here.
More importantly, the story seems to flow on its own
good merits with a strong female heroine and without
the introduction of any sort of villain or violence.

How is the transfer?

In a word, Stunning! There's nothing quite like
watching animated imagery, full of vibrant colors
that look as if they are ready to leap off the
screen. You'll marvel at the lush green fields
and deep blue waters that Kiki flies over. With
full color saturation and rich deep blacks, this
film takes on such wonderful texture. An absolutely
phenomenal video presentation.

Included on this DVD is the original stereo Japanese
track and a dubbed English language track in Dolby
Digital 5.1 stereo. I started listening to the
Japanese track in order to get a feel for the film's
original voice work. Audio came through with crisp
clarity and distinct stereo separation. I then
switched over to the film's 5.1 English dubbed track
and found it to be a more pleasurable listen -- not
for the fact that it was in English, but because of
the remixed 5.1 audio. Dialogue was firmly set in
the center channel with all the film's action
spread across the main front channels which
exhibited strong bass response and distinct stereo
separation. Though surround information was being
sent to the rear channels, most of it was drowned
out by the stronger front audio levels. Only
occasionally could I hear the sounds of city traffic
or rainstorm noise in the rear channels. What really
stands out the most in this audio mix is Joe
Hisaishi's musical score, rich with a variety of
musical styles and instruments. The sounds of a
piano and full orchestra come through with amazing
clarity, and often, extend themselves into the rear

Special Features

Kiki's Delivery Service has been released as
a deluxe 2-disc Special Edition. The film which
resides on Disc One contains both the original
stereo Japanese language track as well as an English
5.1 dubbed language track. A standard Spanish
language track is also included.

We are now on Disc One....

I love the enthusiasm of John Lasseter. This man
could sell you anything in a heartbeat. Before
the film begins, we are treated to a personal
introduction by the Pixar director. In it,
we get a little background information on the
film as well as its director, Hayao Miyazaki.

Behind the Microphone introduces us to the
voices behind the English dubbed feature, including
a very young Kirsten Dunst (Kiki), the much-missed
Phil Hartman (Gigi), Matthew Lawrence (Tombo), and
Janeane Garafolo (Ursula). Each talks a little about
their respective characters and how they dealt with
voicing an animated film. Split screens show you
the actors voicing in one window, while the film
plays in the other.
(length: approx. 4 minutes)

There are nearly 10 minutes of original Japanese
that show how the film was promoted
during its initial theatrical release. You can opt
to play these trailers with English subtitles.

Let's move on to Disc Two that contains one
additional bonus feature....

Yes, you heard right. This entire disc is devoted
to one single effort -- that is, retelling the entire
film using Original Japanese storyboards and
the original Japanese language or dubbed English
soundtrack. If you have the patience, you can watch
this film entirely told in storyboard form. Not
sure if this is worth the expense of an extra DVD
disc, but I noticed that some e-tailers are selling
this set at a $20 pricepoint, so I am not going to
sit here and complain about it.

Final Thoughts

Kiki's Delivery Service is an epic and extraordinary
tale that is not solely for children but people of
all ages. What more can you say about a beautifully
animated film filled with engaging characters and a
very well told story? You should go to your local
store and say you want to preorder your own copy.

Ranks up there with the best animated DVDs in your
collection. Don't hesitate to purchase this!

Release Date: April 15, 2003

All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality


Second Unit
Mar 25, 2001
Uh oh, Ron's turning into an anime geek. :)

Seriously, though, nice review. I'll be looking to pick up both this and Spirited Away.


Feb 16, 2003
Sounds like a great movie! I was intending to pick Spirited away up and was considering picking this up (but I was deterred by the fact that it may be a children's film). Ron, you should review "Castle in the Sky" and "Princess Monokoke" as well, both great anime films by Hayao Miyazaki.

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein
The review sort of uploaded funny so many of you
who read the review in its first 30 minutes of post
probably missed the review of the AUDIO portion of
the disc.

The review has been fixed and revised as of this post.


Senior HTF Member
Jun 30, 2002
Another great review. Glad to hear that you are getting into anime. I found an error in the review. It's right under the first row of pictures.
Written, directed, and produced by Hayao Miyazak,
You forgot the "I" at the end of Miyazaki. As I said in the Spirited Away thread, GO WATCH AKIRA!! :D

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein
Thanks for the error alert. Damn spellchecker
never catches those things.

I do have Akira, but alas, it still sits
in shrinkwrap. Honestly, I just don't have the '
time to watch the things I want to see.

Rob Lutter

Senior HTF Member
Nov 3, 2000
Ron, if you are interested in furthering your anime watching... check out HTF Anime Recommendations which is maintained by Mr. Tony-B. He has done a bang-up job of getting recommendations from us 'otaku' over in the Advanced thread ;)

Subbed or dubbed... anime is GREAT :D

George See

Second Unit
Jul 14, 2002
Under special features you call this movie spirited away, might want to fix it to avoid confusion. Aside from that great review as always, I was definently picking up spirited away on the 15th now i might just have to pick this one up too.

Ed St. Clair

Senior HTF Member
May 7, 2001
From a 40+:
Cartoons rule!
Animation, hand drawn & computer generated are great!
Anime is fantastic!


Dec 19, 2002
If I like Spirited away...I might have to give this one a chance too...you guys are gonna make me an anime geek too...I can feel it...:D

Aaron Cohen

Second Unit
Jul 25, 2002
Is Kiki's Delivery Service a 2-disc set? I was confused because at the beginning of special features it says "Spirited Away has been released as a deluxe two-disc special edition". This is the same wording that was used in the Spirited Away review so I was just making sure the names were just flip-flopped and that Kiki's is a two-disc set as well. I'm assuming it is. Just pointing this out. I also recommend Princess Mononoke. I loved it and am planning to buy both of these dvd's based on your recommendations!

Morgan Jolley

Senior HTF Member
Oct 16, 2000

Because of your schedule, I suggest sticking to just films and not getting wrapped up in TV series.

With that said, check out Ghost in the Shell (another anime, but more modern and futuristic).


Senior HTF Member
Feb 8, 2001
Real Name
I'm buying all three regardless, I"ve only seen Spirited Away in its entirety and bits and pieces of Kiki. I can't wait for my order to go through!!!

one quibble with the review though.

How is the transfer?

In a word, Stunning! There's nothing quite like
watching animated imagery... this
film takes on such wonderful texture. An absolutely
phenomenal video presentation.
That's wonderful, but unfortunately the screencaps look about as jaggy as the family guy ones. I know you can't do all your screencaps on all your reviews the way they used to be Ron, but perhaps we could one (the final screencap maybe?) capture that's uncompressed?

Jeff Kleist

Senior HTF Member
Dec 4, 1999

It does not look jaggy on the actual disc what-so-ever. Looks like Ron caught some non-progressive frames there.

It should be noted that one of the reasons why they do the full-disc storyboards is because of the popularity in Japan. Especially for the earlier films, Miyazaki himself drew all of them, and many he does in watercolor. They actually sell books which are nothing but the boards for his films

John Berggren

Senior HTF Member
Jun 17, 1999
I'm in the process of trying to find the best price for the 3 film set. If anyone has any leads, give me a heads up.

Brendan Brown

Stunt Coordinator
Jan 26, 2003
I think the jaggy nature of the pictures comes from 'nearest neighbor resizing' which wouldn't show up on live action stills, but certainly would for high-contrast animation.

Cary T

Feb 21, 2002
Kiki is my favorite Miyazaki movie and anime of all-time. Highly recommend picking up both Kiki and Laputa (Castle in the Sky) if you liked Spirited Away.

Michael St. Clair

Senior HTF Member
May 3, 1999
I really like storyboards. Having them all, synched to the soundtrack, is the best extra for an animated film I can imagine.

I've never understood why many people look down on storyboards as an extra.

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