Kiki’s Delivery Service is a Major Cat Movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki just after My Neighbour Totoro. Kiki is a 13-year-old trainee witch. It’s traditional for witches of that age to go it alone for a year, so Kiki leaves her parents’ village and flies off on a broom with her black cat Jiji. After much flying, and an interlude in a train, they come to Koriko, a bustling city by the sea, which is where Kiki decides to stay. A friendly baker allows her to live in an empty attic over the bakery, and encourages her to start a delivery service.
Jiji is a talking cat. In the original Japanese version the character is voiced by Rei Sakuma, whose voice doesn’t sound particularly female – just catlike; in the American dub distributed by Disney, she was voiced by the very masculine-sounding Phil Hartman. (I know many people love this version, so apologies to them, but I tried watching it once and didn’t get very far; maybe you have to be a fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch to enjoy it.)
SPOILERS AFTER THE PICTURE
There’s an amusing episode where Jiji has to pose as a stuffed toy, and while Kiki is growing and learning and meeting people, Jiji starts hanging out with a white cat a couple of rooftops away. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, they’re growing apart. The part of the film that completely demolished me is when Kiki doesn’t just lose her powers of flying, but finds herself unable to communicate with Jiji anymore.
Kiki learns to fly again, but the days of talking to Jiji are over. The idea of having a lovely talking cat, but then not being able to talk to it any more, is more than I can bear; even just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. I guess that means I don’t want to grow up.
Today’s cat is dedicated to Edith.
Other Cats of the Day from Studio Ghibli:
- Girl Power! (utsandiego.com)
- ‘Totoro, ‘Princess Mononoke’ returning to theaters for Ghibli series (herocomplex.latimes.com)
- Heroic Husky saves himself and his fellow four-legged pals (sott.net)