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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