Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Kiki's Delivery Service 2

Kiki's Delivery Service  (魔女の宅急便, 1985) by KADONO Eiko (角野 栄子) was a success in its own right before being made into a film by MIYAZAKI Hayao (宮崎 駿) in 1989. Doubtless the film provided an encouragement for Kadono to produce several sequels, the first of which was 魔女の宅急便 2: キキと新しい魔法 (Majo no takkyuubin 2: Kiki to atarashii mahou, Witch's Express Home Delivery Service 2: Kiki and her New Magic, 1993); but the first book was already written in a way that looked towards the possibility of a series. I've only read up to the second; but I suspect from what I've read that the series is a fantasy version of series like Anne of Green Gables or Little Women, which follow a girl from child to adult.

As in the first book, the story is made up of a series of short stories, each about something that Kiki delivers. In the first book, many of the episodes were less realistic than the film, involving fantastic absurdities. Some of the early episodes of the second book are in the same style (e. g. "Kiki delivers a hippo"); but as it proceeds, this aspect is cut back and there is more emphasis on character development. Curiously, much of this part of the story resembles additions that the film made to the first book: Kiki becomes less able to fly; although she can still talk to her cat Jiji, he is less keen to accompany her; she is jealous of a normal girl she sees with Tombo. Other aspects of the crisis of confidence in the book differ from the film and have more to do with her uncertainty about whether what she is doing is worthwhile, after one mission fails and another involves delivering something unwelcome to the recipient.

As her flying becomes less reliable, she takes to walking more, and borrows a pretty dress from a second hand clothes shop to feel like she is not a witch, just for a little while. She spends her savings on an ice at an expensive restaurant that overlooks the sea.
When she had finished eating Kiki propped her face with one hand and gazed at the sea.

Then, recalling how Mimi had looked as she smiled up at Tombo, she copied the smile, showing gleaming white teeth. But the only people to see were the restaurant waiters; and they were all just standing in a row like white pillars.
In the end, Kiki takes her unhappiness as the spur to look for a new direction and adds a different magic to her flying. Readers of the first book may remember that something like this decision was already at least suggested at the end of that. It's probably fair to say that both books take a leisurely pace with new developments; but it's not a book I read resenting the time spent on it.

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