1989-Kiki's Delivery ServiceReleased in Japanese cinemas on the 29th of July Kiki's Delivery Service is Miyazaki's second children's film and as Totoro is completely his own work, written and directed by the Anime genius.
The film follows the story of 13 year old witch Kiki and her black cat Jiji as they begin their witches training (which simply involves living away from home for a time) in the seaside town of Koriko. Kiki finds a job operating delivery service and settles in to life in the town. As she does, she begins contending with the day-to-day problems of adolescence.
Kiki, of course like most Miyazaki works features a female lead. the reason for this is that Miyazaki felt if he was to write about boys he would be too swayed by his own personal experiences of childhood or those from watching his son Goro. It differs from Totoro in that it has a clear and linear plot and thematically it doesn't dwell as much on the theme of child like imagination. Instead, it focuses on the journey between childhood and adolescence and how we deal with the problems put in front of us.
Trivia: Kiki also won the Animage Anime Grand Prix, in 1989. The town of Koriko is based on Visby in Sweden according to Miyazaki. Also, interestingly the voice of Jiji is a woman in the Japanese version but a man in the American dub. Many extra lines of dialogue for the cat were added in the English version also. Importantly in the English version Kiki regains the abillity to speak to her cat at the film's end. However, at the end of the original this does not happen. The film was the studio's first major success and the highest grossing film in Japan in 1989. Finally, upon its release in American cinemas some conservative Christian groups boycotted the film due to its themes of witchcraft.
Released in Japan on July 20th 1991 Only Yesterday is one of the studio's least known works as it lacks an English dub. This is unfortunate as people are missing out on a work of startlingly beautiful nostalgia directed by Isao Takahata.
Taeko is a 27 year old, single, office worker tired of life in Tokyo. She decides to take a break and heads to the countryside, to her sister's in-laws, where she helps out with the harvest. On her way, via train, she begins to reminisce about her childhood in Tokyo. The memories influence her thoughts as an adult as she ponders the hopes and dreams she had as a child.
Only Yesterday deals with maturity, asking such questions as how do we change as we grow? Is it possible for us to lose ourselves in the struggles of daily life? It asks the viewer to question themselves, to ask if adults always have the right idea. Do we have a responsibility to remain true to ourselves?
Only Yesterday is the only film in the list of Studio Ghibli theatrical releases not to be released on the United States, hence the lack of an English dub. Some speculate it is to due with public bath scenes and conversations about menstruation. However, if you are ever in the UK or Ireland I strongly urge you to invest in the subtitled release by optimum. What you will get is a brilliant insight into the honest workings of the human mind that few people can portray as skillfully as Isao Takahata.