Kiki's Delivery Service
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Sunao Katabuchi(original position)

Produced by Hayao Miyazaki

Toru Hara

Written by Nobuyuki Isshiki(original script)

Hayao Miyazaki Based on the book by Eiko Kadono

Starring Minami Takayama

Rei Sakuma Kappei Yamaguchi

Music by Joe Hisaishi
Cinematography Shigeo Sugimura
Editing by Takeshi Seyama
Studio Studio Ghibli
Distributed by Toei Company (Japan)

Buena Vista Pictures (North America)

Release date(s) July 29, 1989
Running time 88 Mins
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget ¥ 800,000,000 (estimated)

$ 6,927,244.46

Gross revenue Japanese yen ¥2,170,000,000 (estimated) United States dollar $18,172,849.38

Kiki's Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便, Majo no Takkyūbin, translated "Witch's Delivery Service") is a 1989 Japanese animated fantasy film produced, written, and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and the fifth Studio Ghibli anime film. It was the fourth theatrically released film from the studio, and was also the second feature film that Miyazaki directed but did not originally write himself. The film won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1989. Kiki's Delivery Service is based on Eiko Kadono's novel of the same name, which is the first in a series originally published by Fukuinkan Shoten in 1985. The film adaptation includes only some of the episodes in the book; it ends at the end of summer while the book covers an entire calendar year. The movie depicts the gulf that exists between independence and reliance in the hopes and spirit of ordinary Japanese teenage girls.

It was the first Studio Ghibli movie released under the Disney/Studio Ghibli partnership; Disney recorded an English dub in 1997, which theatrical premiered in the United States at the Seattle International Film Festival May 23, 1998. It was released on home video in the U.S. on September 1, 1998.


Kiki is a 13-year-old witch-in-training, living in a small rural village where her mother is the resident herbalist. The film opens at the time traditional for Kiki to leave her home to spend a year alone in a new town to establish herself as a full witch. Kiki therefore flies off on her mother's broom with her closest companion, Jiji, a sassy black cat. At her departure from life, she has fun controlling her newly inherited broomstick, and ricochets off of the pine trees in her front yard.

Soon after leaving, Kiki asks Jiji to turn on the radio. He flips to a lively pop song and the beginning credits roll. After the credits and song finish, Kiki and Jiji meet another witch in training. After giving some advice about inner skills, the newcomer flies down to the town where she lives. Seconds after she leaves, Kiki and Jiji are caught in a thunderstorm, from which they take overnight refuge in a train - specifically, in a cattle transport wagon. The next morning, Kiki and Jiji leave to find a place to settle in.

Kiki settles in the beautiful seaside European city of Koriko, and, after initially finding it difficult to adjust to the city's pace of life, finds friends and a new home with a baker named Osono and her husband.  Because the only skill she feels she possesses is flying, Kiki decides to start a delivery service that takes advantage of her ability to fly. Kiki experiences several setbacks, such as slow business, misplaced merchandise, rude customers, and illness. She also must contend with her loneliness, worries, and homesickness. Having caught the eye of Tombo, a local boy about her age who has an interest in aviation and in Kiki herself, she at first rebuffs him, though she slowly begins to warm up to him. Jiji simultaneously courts a local cat named Lily, who had earlier snubbed him.

Because of slowly growing insecurity that finally comes to a head, Kiki's powers diminish and ultimately disappear, to her great shame. She also learns that, because of her loss of powers, Jiji has lost the ability to speak to her. Kiki learns about overcoming such obstacles with the help of a newfound friend, a young artist named Ursula, who gives Kiki advice regarding inspiration that she needs in order to regain her magical abilities.  Ursula also provides Kiki with much needed encouragement about being herself and trusting her instincts.  Ursula paints a canvas in which Kiki is the central figure and, in which, she is flying free.

In a moment of deadly crisis, Tombo is accidentally lifted into the air when some strong summer winds blow the dirigible into town. When she is his only hope of rescue, Kiki finds the inspiration to regain her flying ability. Improvising with a street-sweeper's push broom, Kiki manages to rescue Tombo with considerable difficulty. At that adventure's conclusion, Jiji rejoins her. Suddenly famous, she sends home a simple, modest letter to her parents, saying that she is becoming used to her new home and that things are working out well for her.

The story continues through the end titles, as she flies a high-guard formation with Tombo as he flies his human-powered aircraft in a flight sequence obviously inspired by the Gossamer Albatross. Later, she is on the street of her town and notices a little girl walking past, because the little girl has her hair and clothing styled like Kiki's and is even carrying a small deck broom like the one Kiki flew to save Tombo - an indication of her having become a local celebrity. Jiji and Lily are also shown, with several kittens in tow.

Home Video releasesEdit

The first official English dub of Kiki's Delivery Service was produced by Carl Macek of Streamline Pictures at the request of Tokuma Shoten for Japan Airlines' international flights. Kiki was portrayed by voice actress Lisa Michelson. This dub is only available in the Ghibli Laserdisc Box Set. Clips from this dub are available for download from

Kirsten Dunst voiced Kiki in the 1998 English dub. The English dub was also Phil Hartman's last voice-acting performance (as Jiji) before his death. There is a tribute to Phil Hartman after the Japanese credits and Kiki's letter to home, dedicating the film to his memory. The dub received mixed reviews—although it was mostly showered with praise, other critics and fans jumped on it for its minor alterations. Despite this, the dub has proven popular, selling over one million copies on video.

In Spain, Kiki was re-christened "Nicky", and the film re-titled "Nicky la aprendiz de bruja" (Nicky the Apprentice Witch), because in Castilian Spanish, the phonetically similar quiqui carries unintentional adult connotations.

Differences between versionsEdit

Both the original Streamline dub and the later Disney dub contained minor changes to the film. The original VHS and DVD releases of the film based on the Disney dub included occasional additions and embellishments to the musical score overlaying some of the previously silent sequences. The extra pieces of music (provided by Paul Chihara) ranged from soft piano music to a string-plucked rendition of Edvard Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. In addition, the original opening and ending theme songs were replaced. The new songs, "Soaring" and "I'm Gonna Fly", were written and performed by Sydney Forest. The original Japanese opening theme is "Rouge no Dengon" (ルージュの伝言 Rūju no Dengon?, "Message of Rouge"), and the ending theme is "Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta nara" (やさしさに包まれたなら?, "Wrapped in Kindness"), both performed by Yumi Matsutoya (credited as Yumi Arai). The 2010 DVD re-release and the Blu-Ray release of the Disney dub reverted to the original Japanese soundtrack, removing all of the extra music and using the original Japanese songs again.

While Jiji is voiced by a woman in the Japanese dub in spite of being a male cat, both the Streamline and Disney dubs opted for male actors. Phil Hartman, the actor for the Disney dub, also ad-libbed a number of extra jokes that were not present in the Japanese script, in particular in scenes where Jiji was originally silent. This extended to the only plot change of the Disney dub, in which Jiji speaks to Kiki again just before the end of the film, revealing that he can speak to Kiki again. This runs runs counter to the original story, as Miyazaki has said that Jiji is the immature side of Kiki, and this implies that Kiki, by the end of the original Japanese version, has matured beyond talking to her cat. Later releases removed much of the ad-libbing during silent scenes and dropped the line indicating Jiji could speak again. The Streamline dub did not include the ad-libbing or extra line in the ending. The 2010 DVD release and Blu-Ray release of the Disney dub have most of the ad-libbed lines from Jiji and others deleted, restoring the film and making it closer to the Japanese version.

More minor changes include Kiki drinking hot chocolate instead of coffee and referring to "cute boys" instead of to "the disco". At another point, when Ursula and Kiki hitchhike a ride home, the Disney dub adds a line from Ursula claiming she knows the driver (likely to address "Stranger Danger" concerns of the time period.)

The English subtitled script used for all Disney releases is also inaccurate, a mixture of subbing and "dubtitling". It is based on the original Streamline dub, and has resulted in several additions from that dub to migrate into the script regardless of whether they are present or not (such as Herbert Morrison's "Oh the humanity!" line during the blimp sequence). This came about because Tokuma gave Disney the script for the original dub, thinking it was an accurate translation, leaving this as the script that Disney worked on and largely used unaltered.

In Spain, Kiki is renamed "Nicky" due to "Kiki" sounding very similar to the Castillian Spanish word "quiqui" commonly used in the slang expression "echar un quiqui", which means "to have intercourse". Consequently, the Castillian Spanish release used a new title, Nicky la aprendiz de bruja (Nicky the Apprentice Witch).

Music VideosEdit

Lots of music videos have appeared in this film, or at least two of them. "I'm Gonna Fly" from Sydney Forest and "Soaring".

Characters and castsEdit

  • Kiki is a 13-year-old apprentice witch, who leaves her home village to spend a year on her own, as is tradition in order to train to become a full-fledged witch. She has no visible magical abilities other than those of communicating with her cat and broom flying (at which she is still a novice). She is excitable, innocent, and may turn eager and shy. Some of the earlier concept drawings of Kiki closely resembled the original longer hair illustrations by Akiko Hayashi. It was eventually decided to cut her hair short to ease the animators' workload. She serves, of course, as the protagonist of the film. She is voiced by Minami Takayama in Japanese, Lisa Michelson in the Streamline dub and Kirsten Dunst in the Disney dub.
  • Jiji is Kiki's black cat. Jiji and Kiki are able to talk to each other. He is very cautious, especially in comparison to her innocent eagerness, and possesses a somewhat sarcastic wit. He is the deuteragonist of the film. Jiji was voiced by a female actor, Rei Sakuma, in Japanese, and was voiced by male actors in the English language dubs - in the Streamline dub, Kerrigan Mahan and in the Disney dub, Phil Hartman. This was Hartman's last film role before his death.
  • Tombo Kopoli (or Kopori) is a 13-year-old boy in Koriko, the city where Kiki settles. He is obsessed with aviation, is a member of a club building a human-powered aircraft, and is at first intrigued only by Kiki's ability to fly. He later becomes her friend; it is obvious that he is in awe of her. It is not clear to an English-speaker whether "Kopoli" is intended as a given name or family name. He is the tritagonist of the film. "Tombo", according to the novel, is a nickname, being Japanese for "dragonfly". He was voiced by Kappei Yamaguchi in Japanese, Eddie Frierson in the Streamline dub and Matthew Lawrence in the Disney dub.
  • Osono is the proprietress of a small bakery in Koriko. She is heavily pregnant throughout the film and can be seen feeding her baby in the end credits. She is the first person in Koriko to treat Kiki with kindness and respect. She also acts like a mother to Kiki. It is under Osono that Kiki first works as a messenger. She is voiced by Keiko Toda in Japanese, Alexandra Kenworthy in the Streamline dub and by Tress MacNeille in the Disney dub.
  • Fukuo is Osono's husband and baker; he is tall, strongly built, and almost entirely silent. Kiki is intimidated by him at first, but warms up to him after he makes a gift for her: an advertising wreath for her delivery service. He has only two lines in the film, and is voiced by Kouichi Yamadera in Japanese, Greg Snegoff in the Streamline dub and Brad Garrett in the Disney dub.
  • Ursula is an artist in her late teens, who lives during summer in a one-room cabin in a wooded area outside of Koriko. She takes an "older-sister" role to Kiki, explaining Kiki's temporary inability to fly in terms of "artist's block", and telling her that giftsincluding the ability to paint, to be a witch, or to bake breadmust be used, not rejected. She is voiced by Minami Takayama in Japanese, Edie Mirman in the Streamline dub and Janeane Garofalo in the Disney dub.
  • Oku-sama ("Madame" in the English version) is one of Kiki's customers. She is elderly and aristocratic, but warmhearted and kindly, and hobbled with arthritis. She is voiced by Haruko Kato in Japanese, Melanie McQueen in the Streamline dub and Debbie Reynolds in the Disney dub.
  • Bertha ("Barsa" in the English version) is Oku-sama's housekeeper and friend. Her name is often rendered as "Bassa", an alternative spelling of "bāsa", the Japanese pronunciation of "Bertha". Bertha was voiced by Hiroko Seki in Japanese, Edie Mirman in the Streamline dub and Edie McClurg in the Disney dub.
  • Okino is Kiki's father; according to Miyazaki he is a professor of folklore.He has no magic lineage, but met Kiki's mother when they were both young, when she came to his town on her traditional witch-training year. According to character designer Katsuya Kondo, he based Okino's appearance on actors David McCallum and Akira Terao. Okino is voiced by Kouichi Miura in Japanese, John Dantona in the Streamline dub, and Jeff Bennett in the Disney dub.
  • Kokiri – Kiki's lovely mother, a witch and town herbalist. She worries that Kiki is not equipped to spend a year on her own. The success of Kokiri's potions appears to be dependent on her concentration; interruptions inevitably cause them to instantly spoil. Kokiri is voiced by Mieko Nobuzawa in Japanese, Barbara Goodson in the Streamline dub and Kath Soucie in the Disney dub.
  • Senior Witch – is a 14 year old witch who is provisioned in fortune telling and she also tells fortunes of love. She is voiced by Wendee Lee in the Streamline dub and by Debi Derryberry in the Disney dub.


  • 29 July 1989 Movie theater
  • Christmas 1989 Original VHS release
  • Winter 1990 Streamline dub in theaters from Tri-Star Pictures
  • 1995 American VHS release
  • 1998 Disney dub
  • 2002 Newer VHS release
  • 2005 American DVD release
  • 2009 Newer DVD release
  • 18 November 2014 DVD release by Disney
  • 18 March 2015 DVD release by Japan (alongside with When Marnie Was There)


  • Kiki's Delivery Service also a live-action film directed by Takashi Shimizu
  • The artist who performed the vocal songs in this movie, Yumi Arai, also performed the theme song for The Wind Rises, Hikōki Gumo, making her to date the only artist to perform vocal themes on two Studio Ghibli movies.

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