Better known as Kiki’s Delivery Service. First of all, I have to say that this is one of my least favourite Ghibli films, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like anything about it. I liked the setting, for instance. The city in general, and the bakery where Kiki lives in particular, feel much more natural and memorable than e.g. the world of Laputa (sans the castle in the sky itself). Part of this is, of course, due to the fact I live in a suburb of a European city that, in many respects, feels similar to the one in Kiki’s.
Perhaps surprisingly, though, the city is not the part of the setting that makes me feel most at home. To me, the part that is the surest sign that the design of the setting was inspired by Miyazaki’s trip to Sweden is the old forest where Ursula lives, complete with crows and magpies. And then there’s that one scene, of which I can unfortunately not find a picture, where you can see a lone birch standing in the yard of a house outside of the city. That image is, to me, quintessentially Northern European.
But, while I liked the setting, I found the characters… wanting. I loved the fact that the story was really all about Kiki and that, in the end, she was the one who had to find her resolve and get things done, but I disliked how Tombo had to be the trigger for almost every instance of character development for Kiki, because I felt like the story was restricted by the inclusion of a standard girl-meets-boy scenario. If anything, the part where Kiki takes a break and visits Ursula’s cabin shows just how well the character development worked even when Tombo was nowhere to be seen. At least, this is my opinion.