Kiki’s Delivery Service OST Review

Album Title:Kiki’s Delivery Service Original Soundtrack
Anime Title:Kiki’s Delivery Service
Artist:Joe Hisaishi, Yumi Arai
Catalog Number:TKCA-72742
Release Type:Soundtrack
Release Date:August 10, 1989
Purchase at:CDJapan, Amazon

Kiki’s Delivery Service Original Soundtrack Plays Like a Story

Kiki’s Delivery Service takes a dose of witchcraft and pairs it with the mundaneness of an Amazon drone delivery service. Which is to say it’s a fantastic premise with the right amount of drama to make for a compelling watch. To accompany such a backdrop, composer Joe Hisaishi once again shows off his magical touch at blending the magical with the ordinary. With that, Hisaishi’s airy waltzes and soft, murmuring solos brings the story of a young witch to life in the Kiki’s Delivery Service OST.

Hisaishi’s strength as a composer lies in his ability to write a soundtrack that takes you through the story. The leitmotif provides the core for Kiki’s Delivery Service. We get that in the whimsical, down-to-earth “On a Clear Day…”. The quaint flute solo paints the movie’s pastoral atmosphere, then quickly grows to include a procession of exuberant instruments. The optimism is sustained further in “Departure’s” quiet, loving air that hints at the dab of trepidation for the road ahead.

On a Clear Day…

And with that, we’re off! “A Town With an Ocean View” evokes a bustling seaside village. I particularly love how much character Joe Hisaishi fuses into this track. The initial mixture of business and curiosity makes way for a mysterious, scurrying oboe. With a crescendo, the piece gets its joie de vivre through a string section that swoops in with a lively, pastoral dance to mirror Kiki’s enthusiasm.

A Town With an Ocean View

Kiki’s Character Growth Comes to Life Musically

From there, the routine of the day-to-day settles in. “Helping at the Bakery” has an irresistible energy that possesses a sense of purpose. The same can be said for “Starting a Job” which has a cheerful, earnest vibe of a girl figuring things out as they come up. In a sharp contrast to all the energy, “Jeff” ambles along to a lazy-sounding tuba in its depiction of an old dog napping in a warm corner until stirred by a warm breeze. All together, these pieces capture facets of the pleasant, unhurried pace of seaside life in its entirety, in a way that makes me smile as my mind floats on towards wondrous daydreams.

Jeff

But a new life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. After the excitement wears off, loneliness and the feeling of being out of place seep in. Joe Hisaishi’s music shifts to represent this aspect of growing up. “Heartbroken Kiki’s” poignant piano melody presents a sadness borne out of a search for one’s identity. Though the melancholia stands at the forefront, I love how the string melody conveys a yearning for a sense of happiness and purpose that seem elusive.

Heartbroken Kiki

The OST’s Conclusion is Uplifting

The drooping mood doesn’t last long, however. Inspiration comes through deep reflection. Hisaishi depicts this in “To Ursula’s Cabin”. It starts with a mellower version of the main theme, then cascades gently to wash away the stress and soothe the spirit. “Mysterious Painting” builds upon that with its subdued tone. I appreciate how it departs from the motifs that have come before to stand strong in its own right, providing a welcome change of pace.

Mysterious Painting

But then, it’s time to put character growth, introspection, and a resurgent ability to the test. In “Rough-Flying Airship Adventure” the urgency settles in with a dissonant line to set the listeners on edge. The scope then increases in “Old Man’s Deck Brush”, where the motif from “Town with an Ocean View” rears up, but in a more menacing tone. The trumpet sallies forth with fierce determination and the strings scurry along to amp up the urgency Kiki experiences. These two pieces are a lot more action-oriented than what’s come before, but it’s another bit of variety that keeps the album fresh.

Rough-Flying Airship Adventure

When the excitement hits its zenith, a measured sense of hope rides in on a deck brush. In “Rendezvous with a Deck Brush”, the calm, stately strings imbues the atmosphere with grace to match the increased self-confidence. Though short, it provides an assurance that no struggle is insurmountable.

Rendezvous with a Deck Brush

The Kiki’s Delivery Service OST wraps it up with “Rouge no Dengon” which has the type of 70s disco pop music. While I’m not as fond of its synthy goodness the first time through, it’s grown on me with its cheesiness. Of the vocal tracks, I much prefer the folksy “If Enveloped in Tenderness”. The guitar duet feeds right into my mellow sensibilities and the atmosphere of the soundtrack on the whole. Yumi Arai’s soft and sweet vocals adds a final soothing touch to what is a wonderful album.

If Enveloped in Tenderness

Rating: Excellent

zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

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