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Kiki’s Delivery Service

It’s been quite a summer for me. I hit a milestone birthday, got promoted at my part-time job and am now down to 1 (ONE!) full-time job, and just this past weekend: moved into my husband’s and mine first house.

My body still aches from moving – I’m not as young as I used to be 😉 Not being able to go to the gym for over a year couldn’t have helped either. So this morning instead of unpacking more I had a feeling I needed to watch a Ghibli movie. Howl’s Moving Castle is my favorite, but – it didn’t seem right. Kiki was calling my name for some reason. So I curled up on the couch and clicked “Play.”

Kiki is a witch who has been waiting for the perfect night to leave home. As is tradition, 13-year-old witches leave their homes for a year to begin their training. On a clear midnight under a full moon, Kiki and her black cat Jiji take off on her mother’s broom and are drawn to a city on the southern coast near the sea. While searching for a place to live, they witness a baker attempting to give back a pacifier one of her customers dropped. Kiki offers to deliver it on her broomstick, and the rest, as they say, is history. The baker, Osono, gives Kiki her attic room and use of her phone for Kiki’s new flying delivery service in exchange for occasional help around the bakery. As time goes on, Kiki and Jiji gain customers, make deliveries, and find friends in aviation enthusiast Tombo and painter Ursula. After a delivery gone wrong, Kiki becomes depressed and slowly begins to lose her powers: flight and talking to Jiji. Will she be able to recover them and resume deliveries?

I see why I was drawn to this movie: it was just what I needed. Kiki is finding her independence and becoming self-reliant, but she also needs help occasionally from her loved ones. When she starts to lose her powers, she needs to look inside herself and find her inspiration again. After her introspective period, she doesn’t go back to exactly how she was before. She still can’t talk to Jiji, but she adjusts and accepts it. In her letter to her parents, she admits that while she’s having a great time and finding her way, she still gets homesick. By the end of the movie, she has grown through her “artist’s block” (as it were) and learned to be vulnerable and ask for and accept help when needed and offered – while still maintaining her independence.

The animation – oh, the animation! – is just lovely. It has a painterly feel to it. There are multiple points throughout the movie where there is just a pause. A pause to take in the scenery, or the character standing still. These points taking place in Kiki’s attic room reminded me of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings, most of which he composed and worked on in his attic room in Delft. While the characters’ movements and expressions are buttery-smooth, the big draw of these films for me are the scenery and attention to detail of everyday life. You can smell the bread and pastries in Osono’s bakery. You can feel and smell the wind coming off the sunlit sea. I was astounded by the sound direction: the pattering of Jiji’s feet on a wood floor, Tombo’s voice being distorted through the propeller on his invention. The thing that makes Ghibli movies so successful and immersive is this high attention to detail.

Immersed I was, so immersed that I’m fully awake, fixed my tea, and am rolling up my sleeves (well, I would if I weren’t wearing a tank top) to get cracking on unpacking before my second first day at work tomorrow. Just like Kiki, I have found my inspiration and am ecstatic to be starting many new chapters of my life all at the same time.

Kathleen

Miyazaki, Hayao. Kiki’s Delivery Service. Original Japanese release 1989; English dub released 1997.

Karoshi-Con 2016 (aka My Journey to Geekdom)

Karoshi-Con

The clues were all there when I was younger: my love of the ElfQuest comics, reading The Magic of Xanth fantasy book series, idolizing Luke Skywalker and my not so secret obsession with Star Trek TNG. But I wasn’t a geek, was I? I was in a sorority for God’s sake!

But the lovely part of getting older is becoming more comfortable with yourself. Why hide my passions? I had worked in Youth Services at my library for a few years when I was approached to take over the teen department. I had already started a teen volunteer program that was  successful and I was the staff member that the teens spoke to when they came into the library. So I got to combine my love of crafts, reading, Star Wars & Star Trek into an awesome new job!

All of this led me into attending my first anime-con at NIU. The ironic thing is that I attended NIU, but as this is the sixth year having Karoshi-Con, it was not around when I was a student. To be truthful, had it been running when I was a student there, I would not have gone. But now I’m enlightened! A local friend, who is a kindred soul to me (WB!), suggested we go together with our kids.

I was impressed with the dedication of the students running this small convention. It had free admission, but hosted several panels including one led by a well regarded voice actor, Lucas Schuneman, who works in the anime and comics business. There were game rooms for board and card game enthusiasts, and a video game room with tournaments for Tekken 5, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Brothers. Popular anime series were showing in the viewing room, and there was a Cosplay contest. Speaking of Cosplay, some of the costumes were fantastic! I was pleasantly surprised to see no overlap of costumes. Everyone’s outfits were unique, and there are so many characters out there in the anime world to choose from, enabling variety.

The Vendor Hall had a good selection of booths to stop at. Many artists were there selling wares that revolved around the anime world from paintings,  plush toys, to costume accessories. My two favorite booths were The Gaming Goat from DeKalb and Comic Wreck. I stopped to chat with TGG’s owner Philip Henrikson, and when it came up in conversation that I was a Teen Librarian he generously donated the game Codenames to my library to be used at our Teen Lounge or our new monthly Role Playing game event. His store hosts tournament nights regularly and is a popular location for gamers in this area. Building community is important, and he just scored a dedicated customer for my future gaming purchases! I also enjoyed the booth Comic Wreck that was selling posters of popular comics, movies and TV series (hello, Star Trek!) in addition to selling many Manga series.

When I enthusiastically told my library director about attending, she said the library could pay my admission for a future Comic-Con (I’m much more into comics than anime) like C2E2, I actually squealed aloud. My path to Geekdom lies ahead, but…I must admit, there are limits. You will never see me in a costume (unless Wil Wheaton asks me personally to do so)!

-Nancy

 

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