Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) — PICK

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) — PICK

Two of Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki’s most memorable high-flying heroines return to Blu-ray from Shout! Factory. Among the gentlest, most family-friendly of his tales, Kiki’s Delivery Service is a loosely structured coming-of-age story with a delightful cast of characters and a rambling storyline full of charming incident and irresistible imagery.

Viewers wary of Harry Potter may be concerned that Kiki (dubbed in English by Kirsten Dunst) is a broomstick-flying young witch in training, an anime counterpart to Wendy the Good Little Witch.

Yet with its celebration of such virtues as courtesy, service, hard work, respect for elders, responsibility, maturity, modesty and gratitude, Kiki couldn’t be more different from the menace and grotesquerie of Rowling’s tales.

For more complex, challenging fare, check out Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Miyazaki’s adaptation of his own post-apocalyptic manga (comic book) about a gifted young princess (Alison Lohman) of a peaceful kingdom in a blighted world afflicted by an invasive toxic jungle and dangerous giant insects.

The politics are impenetrable and the ecological theme is a little heavy-handed, but the ambitious world-building and visions of wonder are well worth it.


CAVEAT SPECTATOR: Kiki: Fantasy depiction of magic. Fine family viewing. Nausicaä: Sometimes intense action violence; sci-fi/fantasy menace and frightening images. Might be intense for sensitive youngsters.