Hi there! This is Mokugyo, a MANGA.TOKYO otaku writer who absolutely loves manga and anime. I have said that so many times that you probably know it by heart. What you don’t know about me, however, is that I used to work at a video rental shop. There isn’t a single Japanese rental video shops that doesn’t have the Studio Ghibli movies. Hayao Miyazaki is especially popular, and most of his movies are rented during the summer and winter holidays. They’re always popular.
Today, I want to talk about one of Miyazaki’s works, Kiki’s Delivery Service. I’ve gathered some very intriguing trivia that will make you enjoy the movie even more.
What is ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’?
Kiki’s Delivery Service is an anime movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was released in Japan in 1989. It is based on a Japanese children’s book of the same name by Eiko Kadono where a 13 year-old girl named Kiki who has witch’s blood starts her new life in a new town all alone. Using her witch’s skill to fly in the sky with a broom, Kiki starts a delivery service. Through the story, Kiki grows up splendidly. It’s a fresh and youthful fantasy.
1. ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ was Ghibli’s First Big Hit
As we said, Kiki’s Delivery Service was released in Japan in 1989 and was created with a budget of 800 million yen. In the Japanese movie industry, any revenue over ¥2 billion gross is considered a hit, and this movie grossed ¥3.6 billion. These days Miyazaki is world-famous, but he wasn’t a household name until this particular work. Until ‘Kiki’, Miyazaki’s box office numbers were ¥1.48 billion for Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and ¥1.16 billion for Castle in the Sky. My Neighbor Totoro simultaneously screened with Grave of the Fireflies, and they made ¥1.17 billion together. From around the time My Neighbor Totoro released in 1988, Miyazaki’s name became more popular, and he finally had a smash hit with Kiki’s Delivery Service. By the way, the number one box office record within Japan is ¥30.4 billion for Spirited Away, directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 2001. Although the smash-hit movie Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) recently became the highest-grossing Japanese movie of all-time in the worldwide box office, Spirited Away still holds the number 1 spot within Japan. Nothing has beaten this Academy Award-winning record yet.
2. In the Original Japanese Dub, the Same Person Voices Kiki and Ursula
In the original Japanese dub, the voice actor Minami Takayama played both the protagonist, Kiki and the painter girl Ursula. Originally, Minami Takayama was chosen to play Ursula. However, there were no suitable candidates for Kiki’s voice, so she ended up playing two characters. She used the two different voices so well that it’s difficult to tell them apart even when you know they are played by the same person.
By the way, the voice actor Kappei Yamaguchi played Kiki’s boyfriend, Tombo. You may have heard of the world-famous anime Detective Conan about a genius high-school detective named Shinichi Kudou who is transformed into an elementary student and solves crimes under the alias Conan. Minami Takayama plays the protagonist, Conan, and Kappei Yamaguchi plays Shinichi Kudou. Surprisingly, the two people who played the protagonists in Kiki’s Delivery Service share the same character in Detective Conan.
3. The Town by the Sea is Modelled After Stockholm
Koriko, the city where Kiki lives, is modelled after the Swedish cities Stockholm and Visby. There are also references to Ireland, France, and the United States (San Francisco). Certainly, the shape of the roofs and windows of the city make you think of Europe.
As the story begins, pay attention to the scene when Kiki comes to the town. A bus with STUDIO GHIBLI written on it passes behind Kiki. It’s just for a moment, so look carefully. There are people who swear by references like that and believe that they are the spice that makes movies like these worth to be called ‘classics.’
At the end of the story, a man with glasses appears on-screen. He is modelled after Director Hayao Miyazaki! He is in the scene in which many people are watching TV as Kiki heads for the airship to rescue Tombo. A man says the scrubbing brush Kiki rides is the one he gave to her. In the right corner of this scene, there’s Director Hayao Miyazaki himself in his younger days. Miyazaki rarely added his figure in his movies. This was also in the pamphlet at the time of theatrical release.
The original creator, Eiko Kadono, was insistent that a ringing bell was attached to a tree when Kiki sets off at the beginning of the story. The bell is proof that Kiki was practicing flying. This casual scene is actually very important.
7. Kiki’s Delivery Service was Also Made Into a Live-Action Movie and a Stage Show
Kiki’s Delivery Service has been made into a Japanese live-action movie in 2013. Many people were confused as to why Japan was the setting of the movie, since Miyazaki’s anime created a lasting impression that was hard to rub off. However, the original story is a children’s book that does take place in Japan. Therefore to be exact, the novel has been made into a live-action movie.
Incidentally, Kiki’s Delivery Service was also made into a musical in 1993, 1995, and 1996. Yukio Ninagawa, who is highly respected worldwide, was in charge of directing. The popular Japanese idol group, V6, appeared in the musical.
In addition, in December 2016, a stage show of the anime version was performed at the Southwark Playhouse in the UK. As the UK is a country famous for its musicals, a play version of Princess Mononoke has also been performed there.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is one of the most popular Studio Ghibli titles. The flying scenes are amazing, mainly because Director Hayao Miyazaki has a strong admiration for the sky and he is also a fighter plane otaku. If you haven’t seen Kiki’s Delivery Service yet, maybe it’s time to put it in your watching list.