How Kiki’s Delivery Service helped my mental health

Main Image: Kiki’s Delivery Service/ Studio Ghibli 

I am currently trying to pretend that Halloween is not over. Although, I am very much excited for the Christmas drinks at Costa; I can never fully get into the Christmas spirit until the December ‘I need to buy presents now’ panic hits in. Therefore, I thought it would be better to look back and reflect on my Halloween costume, and why I chose that particular costume, rather than get myself into a funk.

If you know me at least moderately well, you’ll know I like to dress up. While I have not done more than a smattering of cosplays (because I build the expectations I have for a costume up too high in my head); I love cosplay. I love dressing up and becoming a character. Recently, anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I have been making my way through the Studio Ghibli canon, and one film really stood out to me the most, and if you haven’t guessed it already that film was Kiki’s Delivery Service.

For those of you who don’t know Kiki’s Delivery Service is about a young witch who has come of age, and decides to leave home for a year (a witch tradition) to decide what magic/ what kind of witch she wants to be.

The film then is about growing up, and transforming from one stage of your life to another. What the film also talks about (which I’m not the only one to notice) is depression. During the film (spoiler alert) Kiki loses her magical powers and doesn’t understand why. No matter what she does things are just not working like they used to.

Kiki

Image: Kiki’s Delivery Service/ Studio Ghibli 

She talks to her artist friend Ursula (who is totally cool and lives in a cottage in the woods that I would totally frequent minus the crows) who tells her that she went through the same thing with her art. One of the pieces of advice she gives is:

“Stop trying. Take long walks. Look at scenery. Doze off at noon. Don’t even think about flying. And then, pretty soon, you’ll be flying again.”

Which for me basically translates to take some time and look after you. Beating yourself up because you’ve lost inspiration or are going for a depressive episode is not going to help. All you can do is try to look after you.

Kiki and Ursula

Image: Kiki’s Delivery Service/ Studio Ghibli 

The film also discusses friendship for those who struggle at. In the film Kiki laments:

“I think something’s wrong with me. I make friends, then suddenly I can’t bear to be with any of them. Seems like that other me, the cheerful and honest one, went away somewhere.”

Kiki Mardy

Image: Kiki’s Delivery Service/ Studio Ghibli 

I love, love my friends but very often I get myself into a rut and I just don’t want to be anywhere near anyone. I’ve missed several events because of that (don’t even get me started on building up expectations for events) and so can truly relate.

So, you can see why Kiki definitely has a special place in my heart. I did however hesitate with the costume, because it was never made clear what ethnicity Kiki is. I think cosplaying a character if you are not the race of the character (i.e. if you are not a minority) should always be treated carefully and with respect. I personally don’t feel comfortable cosplaying a character of another ethnicity to me, usually because that character is a minority in film/ tv/ literature or whatever the medium is- it feels like I am taking the character away from someone.

In the end I decided to cosplay as Kiki because Kiki’s ethnicity was never absolutely defined. In Spirited Away for example the film is set in Japan, and the lead’s character’s name (Chihiro Ogino) and appearance is Japanese.

However, I think personally as long as you don’t try to match your skin tone to that character (i.e. blackface) I don’t have an issue. In an ideal world there would not be an issue at all but to ignore the aspect ethnicity plays in our society today would be wrong. I am not though a person of colour so really you shouldn’t be paying attention to what I say in this debate, but actually asking people affected.

Kiki, as a character though means a lot to me. Not only has she become someone I can relate to, but the film and its beauty inspired a new burst of creativity in me that I have not felt for so long. For that reason Kiki’s Delivery Service is always going to have a special place in my heart.

Kiki's Delivery Service

🍂April🍂

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This Belle ‘Beauty and the Beast’ cosplay is goals

[Image: Laura Beresford Photography]

So I don’t know about you but by now I am beyond hyped for the new Disney live action Beauty and the Beast; and seeing this amazing Belle cosplay from Cait of Cait and Chay is not helping calm me down!

Cait actually first starting cosplaying before she met the other half of her cosplaying duo, and her cosplaying journey actually began with her dad taking her to MCM London Comic Con for a day out when she was about 10 or 11 years old.

But, the first time seeing people in cosplay was not the instant falling in love experience you’d expect: “We actually found it weird! Oh the irony”.

Belle 2I don’t think she finds it weird anymore. [Image: Laura Beresford Photography]

However, as she grew “a bit older and got more into ‘nerdy’ stuff” she “used to go with friends”. The cosplaying part though didn’t come until college when Cait mentioned to her best friend “how it would be fun to go again but dressed as Team Magma from Pokémon”, as she’d “always wanted their uniform!”.

Her first ever cosplay though, like everyone’s first attempt at cosplay was not the standard she pushes herself to today, but still every bit as fun:

“We bought black dresses from H&M on our lunch break at college, and cut up two red hoodies to make the uniform. The sewing was terrible, the hoods didn’t stay up, and our props were tennis balls painted as Pokeballs”.

Belle 3Proof of how cosplay is all about hard work, determination and developing skills over time. [Image: Laura Beresford Photography]

 However, the whole experience was still “great” (as all cosplay no matter your skill level is good cosplay). So great in fact that when Cait and Chay started their relationship they decided to start cosplaying as a couple, as he, “insisted he wanted to be Flynn”. And despite originally having “no plans to make Rapunzel” she ended up getting “a bit carried away”.

13584908_1102080303168948_5573622830304961098_o[Image: Kevin Hennequin Photography]

KlyxmThis wig is basically identical to the film!  [Image: Gallagher Photography]

So let’s face it they are pretty much the cutest Rapunzel and Flynn cosplayers you’ve ever seen. So what was it that made Cait want to cosplay Belle as her next project?

 “At the time we’d recently met another couple that cosplayed Disney characters and we became good friends with them. Myself and the other girl (Tilfey Cosplay) are similar in height, Chay is quite athletic and Tilly’s (now ex) boyfriend was taller and a bit stockier. We chose to do a Frozen group for an upcoming con because of that, and that made us think of what other characters we suited. I’d always had my eye on Belle because she’s a brunette, like me, but I’d always hated her yellow dress. I figured that I could make it gold which is the colour I always wanted it to be anyway, so we ended up choosing Beauty and the Beast, with Chay as Adam, myself as Belle, Tilly’s boyfriend as Gaston and Tilly as one of the Bimbettes- it didn’t end up quite going to plan though in the end”.

Group shot[Image: Catberry Photography] Characters: Claudette, Laurette,  Paulette, Gaston and Belle. Cosplayers: SqueakehB (Claudette), Bon Schweetz Cosplay (Laurette) and Tilfey Cosplay (Paulette), Cait and Chay (Belle and Gaston).

What happened instead is that, “Tilly’s ex boyfriend ended up having to work that whole weekend”, so it “seemed weird that the Bimbettes would be hanging out with Belle and Adam and seemed more realistic that they would be following Gaston who’s following Belle”.

Chay didn’t mind though, as “he loves Gaston” and according to Cait has the “attitude and mannerisms to pull him off” but “in the best way”, of course!

Unsurprisingly, Cait is also definitely looking forward to the live action Beauty and the Beast:

“The latest trailer that came out made me a bit emotional. We get nostalgia really bad, it’s a curse! It’s the whole being reminded of being little. I think I also get a bit more emotional over things once I’ve cosplayed them. Chay of course is obsessed with the new Gaston design…”

I think now is a good time to say that being this awesome at cosplay and posing for stunning photographs does come up with its risks, especially when British weather gets involved in your shoot! As Cait said, it was “absolute freezing” during the Laura Beresford Belle shoot, “but it was worth it”.

Cold Cait[Image: Laura Beresford Photography]

Belle 4It was so totally worth it though. [Image: Laura Beresford Photography]

However, it helped that it was Laura taking the photographs, as they’ve known each other for a long time, and they stopped to “have a lot of fun which helped!”. Though “the best part was the few random passers by who stopped to take photos from a distance”.

Cait said that overall her favourite ever Disney couple is Flynn and Rapunzel, which is also the cosplay of theirs which has got the biggest response, as their “Instagram account was very small” until they “posted some quick WIP (Work in Progress) shots of the new wig I was making”. The image “got over 1k likes and to us that was insane!”.

She said that she would cosplay as Belle again however, but “probably not to London MCM again but I’ve always wanted to go to a Midlands expo, or perhaps a smaller London con”.

Their next convention Cait and Chay will be attending is MCM London Comic Con in May!

And their cosplay plans for the future are definitely numerous so prepared to be delighted!

“We’re currently working on Jolly Holiday Mary Poppins and Bert, and remaking our Rapunzel and Flynn Rider cosplays. After that, we’re planning on making Captain Amelia and Jim Hawkins from Treasure Planet and Elizabeth and Will from Pirates of the Caribbean. Chay wants to try his hand at making Doctor Strange, so when he’s doing that I’ll most likely make Jane from Tarzan”.

Be sure to check out their Instagram to keep up with their progress and get yourself inspired and ready to see Beauty and the Beast!

CaitBelle13[Image: Laura Beresford Photography]

CaitBelle6[Image: Laura Beresford Photography]

CaitBelle7SH[Image: Laura Beresford Photography]