StudioCanal has been putting out Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki’s output on DVD and Blu-ray over the last couple of years. The latest titles to be released are Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), which he wrote the screenplay for, and Grave of The Fireflies (1988), which is not a Miyazaki film but was made by his company Studio Ghibli. Let’s start with Kiki’s Delivery Service, a sweet film about a young witch, the Kiki of the title, who goes off to a big city to find herself and runs an air courier service to support herself financially. The film has all of the Miyazaki trademarks (a visual sense of wonder, a slightly unusual female protagonist) and is heartwarming and feels very Japanese. The choice of a white witch as its central character works well and this is a film that can’t help but make you smile when you watch it…
Grave of The Fireflies is a very different beast indeed. It deals with a young boy and his sister, Setsuko and Seita, and how they try to survive during the Second World War in Japan without parents and without anywhere proper to live. They are forced to live in a cave when their home is destroyed and they become itinerants when they have no-one to support them. It is a very sad and moving film with a very downbeat conclusion and it has a very serious message about the impact of war on ordinary people.
Both films are worthy additions to the StudioCanal Blu-ray and DVD library.