I had a lot to do today and not much time to do it in. So I went out and picked up Kiki's Delivery Service and watched that instead.
Hayao Miyazaki's film is about a young witch, Kiki. When a witch is 13 years old, she must leave home to train on her own for a year, using her special skills to make her way. Kiki doesn't really have any special skills -- she can only fly. So she and her cat Jiji set up a package delivery service in a city by the sea.
I'd been waiting for this to be released on DVD so I could see it. I'd heard good things and I loved both Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. I wasn't disappointed with the story or the animation. The story is simple and gentle, with friendly characters who come into Kiki's life and want to help her. The obstacles to be overcome are from within as Kiki struggles for self-confidence.
The animation is beautiful. It's clean and colourful and the flying feels so realistic, I wanted to get a broomstick and give it a go myself.
I started to watch this with the Japanese soundtrack and subtitles, but I found the subtitles very hard to read. They're in a shaky yellow over the picture rather than in the unused black (this is letterboxed). Plus I was trying to eat my supper at the same time. So, I ended up putting on the English dub but leaving the subtitles on at the same time, which was pretty interesting.
I wasn't very impressed with the dub, actually. Phil Hartman voices Jiji (that's how long Disney has been sitting on this -- and it gave me a pang to hear him) and it didn't seem like a good fit. As well, I noticed that there were stretches where there was no subtitling at all, but some rather indifferent Jiji dialogue was inserted in the dub, presumably because we don't like to watch without somebody talking at us.
There were a few discrepancies between the dub and the subtitles that seemed odd as well. Next time I watch, I'll sit a little closer and leave the dub off.
One of the things I liked the most was how Kiki was a witch in the same way as Osono was a baker and Ursula was an artist. Not that different from you or me.
Only she could fly.