I continue my trek through the films of the greatest director the world has ever known!
Screenplay By: Hayao Miyazaki
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki
Please scroll down and look very quickly at the tags I associated with this review, go ahead, I’ll wait… Did you you look them over? Good, you should have noticed the drama tag attached to Majo No Takkyûbin, and I’d like to take some time to explain exactly what type of drama you will find in Majo No Takkyûbin. This isn’t a typical movie by any means, you won’t find a real external threat in the first two-thirds of the movie, there are no bad guys, there isn’t a single character you root against. The easiest comparison is to another Hayao Miyazaki master work, Tonari No Totoro. In similar fashion to that film, Majo No Takkyûbin is about settling in with Kiki and the characters that surround her. Too often films about growing up feel the need to create villains and drama as far as the eye can see. Miyazaki goes the other route, he creates a cast of characters that are all deeply likable, and until the very end he avoids external drama. But, even during the climax the dirigible is never viewed as a real threat, the drama still isn’t external. The drama comes into play in the internal machination’s of Kiki’s inability to fly and whether she will be able to overcome whatever is suppressing her powers. Majo No Takkyûbin isn’t about drama, it is about falling into the lives of these characters and enjoying every moment of your time with them.
Because of its lack of Hollywood style drama Majo No Takkyûbin moves at a slow pace, but a pace that suits its story. Since Majo No Takkyûbin is about the journey with the characters it morphs the viewer into a sort of leaf on the wind. We are slowly blown throughout the scenes and happenings, taking in all that the eye can see in a leisurely fashion. When this realization dawns it’s more than likely that Majo No Takkyûbin will lose a good number of viewers who don’t have the patience for leisurely storytelling. Those who stick around are treated to a wonderful world, full of moments of joy, laughter and happiness. Man or woman, there is a little bit of Kiki’s journey in all of us, because we have all faced the internal perils of maturity in our lives and therefore we should all be able to relate to the themes and messages of the movie.
One area that never gets enough credit in the works of Miyazaki is the scoring capabilities of Joe Hisaishi. It’s understandable that when working on a film with the names Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Yoshifumi Kondo attached that any other names would be overshadowed. But, as I have gone through Miyazaki’s work the scoring of Hisaishi has continually stood out as some of the best scoring in the movie business, and Majo No Takkyûbin is no different. Scoring can be difficult, it can’t take over the action on screen, but it can’t be relegated to the background by the action. Somehow Hisaishi always finds a way so that his score makes the highest of highs even higher and the lowest of lows even lower. Hisaishi’s music alone was more than enough to make Kiki’s forays into flight an exhilarating experience every time.
It seems like a given by this point that the animation in a Miyazaki film will be a delight for the eye, but I feel the need to touch on the animation found in Majo No Takkyûbin anyway. I long ago came to the conclusion that while Miyazaki’s animation is wonderfully detailed and evocative, he is easily at his best when his characters are in motion. But, he is even better when his characters are in motion as well as in flight. The way the wind whips through Kiki’s hair, the background shots of the cities, how Kiki bounces from building to building or tree to tree, but most importantly the look of sheer joy on Kiki’s face as she takes flight qualify as some of the best animation ever put to screen. Miyazaki always creates detailed animation, but when his characters are in motion you can sense the joy that is on his face at the drawing table.
I am admittedly a Hayao Miyazaki fanatic, I have never denied that. He is my favorite director of all time, but I also view him as the best director of all-time. With each movie of his I find new things to love and respect, and that goes for the fifteenth viewing just as much as the first. Where else can you find a cat as irascible and downright funny yet as wonderfully animated as Jiji? Only coming from the mind and pencil of a master like Miyazaki, and Majo No Takkyûbin is yet another master work to add to his catalog full of nothing but master works.