I’ve been watching Kiki’s Delivery Service since the days of Blockbuster Video, when my brothers and I used to go pick it out on VHS as our Friday night movie. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, this Studio Ghibli film is based on the book Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono. In the film, we meet 13-year-old witch Kiki, who sets off with her talking cat to live in a new town for a year. After coming across a charming seaside village, Kiki puts down roots above a bakeshop and starts a flying delivery service. As she meets new friends and catches tentative feelings for a boy obsessed with airplanes, she begins to learn more about who she is as a person.
Kiki’s Delivery Service has always held a soft spot in my heart. This past winter though, I found myself rewatching Kiki’s more than I ever have before, with From Up On Poppy Hill and Whisper of the Heart as close seconds. While this may be related to my brother sharing his HBO account with me, I think it also has to do with how comforting I find the movie.
In a Psychology Today article, Jennifer Fayard (2021) discusses why people gravitate towards rewatching something familiar. She writes, “There is also some evidence that when we are stressed and overloaded, watching TV can be restorative. Specifically, research indicates that watching familiar TV shows has been shown to restore our feelings of self-control after a period of exertion, and also that we tend to prefer familiar shows when we feel depleted.” Feeling depleted really hits home for me after both the long winter we’ve just gotten through and the pandemic years we’ve been facing. Rewatching Kiki’s Delivery Service has brought me immeasurable comfort over the past couple months as I sink into the familiar, cozy world of Kiki and her adventures in her seaside city. Comfort from familiarity can also be applied to rereading books, something this Rioter writes about too.
After all of my rewatching, I’ve come to realize Kiki’s Delivery Service is one of my favorite movies. There’s so much to be said for it, from the coming-of-age themes, slice of life, found family, sweet setting, relatable feelings of self-doubt and introspection, and first love, all interwoven with magic. Oh, and let’s not forget all of the plentiful baked goods. If you’re like me, and craving the comforting charm of Kiki’s, you may find a new favorite read with these books like Kiki’s Delivery Service below.
Books Like Kiki’s Delivery Service
Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe
This is just about the coziest book I’ve ever read, and it helped inspire me to write this post. “It has such Kiki’s Delivery Service vibes,” I thought, “I need more like this!” In this sweet middle grade read by Julie Abe, we meet Eva Evergreen, who’s a witch just a month shy of her 13th birthday. Eva’s ready to earn her ranking of Novice Witch, but first she must do good in a new town for one month or risk losing her magic forever! The only catch is, Eva has just a pinch of magic. Read this one for an endearing protagonist, cozy coastal settings, delicious food descriptions, found family, and cute animal sidekicks.
Witch Hat Atelier Vol 1. by Kamome Shirahama, Translated by Stephen Kohler
The gorgeous artwork that fills the pages of this sweet and magical manga by Kamome Shirahama is reminiscent of Studio Ghibli’s style. Just like Kiki, Coco’s greatest dream is to become a witch. Coco, however, was not born with magic. After she meets the mysterious traveling magician Qifrey, Coco learns there may be hope for her to learn magic after all. She soon finds herself becoming Qifrey’s new apprentice.
Mooncakes written by Suzanne Walker and illustrated by Wendy Xu, with letters by Joamette Gil
Like Kiki’s Delivery Service, this heartfelt graphic novel stars a teen witch and explores themes of self-discovery, family, and love. While Kiki’s is set above a bakery, Mooncakes also provides a cozy setting in the form of a bookshop. Chinese American and Deaf witch, Nova Huang, divides her time between helping in her grandmothers’ magical bookstore and investigating supernatural incidents in town. When Nova comes across a white wolf in the woods, she finds it’s her old childhood crush, nonbinary werewolf Tam Lang, and as the two reconnect, sparks begin to fly.
Love, Sugar, Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano
The setting of Kiki’s Delivery Service above a bakeshop creates such a feeling of comfort within me whenever I watch it. This delightful middle grade fantasy by Anna Meriano promises both baking and magic too. In Rose Hill, Texas, Leonora Logroño discovers she’s descended from a line of witches of Mexican ancestry, who infuse their baking with mouthwatering magic. Eager to test out her own newfound gift, Leonora decides to try out her magic by helping her best friend, Caroline.
Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega
This enchanting new fantasy by Claribel A. Ortega follows tween witches trying to make new friends and find a sense of belonging, just like Kiki. Ortega also shared a heartfelt tweet recently about how they’re nonbinary and wanted to create a magical world where they felt they belonged. Twelve-year-old Seven Salazar can’t wait to join the most powerful coven with her best friend during the Black Moon Ceremony. Yet things don’t go as planned for Seven. On the night of the ceremony, she gets placed in a Spare coven with an impossible task awaiting her and her unlikely new allies.
The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa, Translated by Louise Heal Kawai
If you’re here for the talking cat (aren’t we all?), I’m right there with you. I love Jiji in Kiki’s Delivery Service; he makes for the most sassy yet loyal companion as Kiki embarks on her big adventure to a new city. This heartwarming book in translation by Sōsuke Natsukawa draws together a coming-of-age narrative with fantasy, plus a talking cat character. Bookish and introverted high schooler, Rintaro Natsuki, is on the verge of closing the bookshop he inherited from his late grandfather when a cat named Tiger appears and asks for his help saving unread and disregarded books.
The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner
Speaking of talking cats, let me introduce you to teen witch, Moth Hush, who finds her own talking cat companion too! When a group of 8th grade bullies try to ruin 13-year-old Moth’s Halloween, Moth uncovers surprising secrets about her family’s history in Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts. As she begins discovering new powers, Moth meets a talking cat, falls into a magical diary, and unlocks a witchy realm.
Himawari House by Harmony Becker
While this book does not contain magic (besides the *magic of friendship*), it gave me such strong Kiki’s Delivery Service vibes with its themes of coming-of-age, slice of life, starting afresh in a new city, self-discovery, friendship, and falling in love. After Japanese American, Nao, chooses to defer college for a year, she returns to Tokyo to reconnect with her heritage and attend a Japanese language school. Moving into a Himawari sharehouse with four other college-aged young adults, Nao begins forming relationships that will leave a lasting impact. This heartwarming graphic novel is written and illustrated by Harmony Becker, the illustrator of George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy. This is one of my favorite reads this year, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Let’s Fly, Jiji!
I hope these charming and feel-good books like Kiki’s Delivery Service bring you as much joy as rewatching Kiki’s has brought me. If you’re looking for more sweet books with similar vibes, you may want to check out the following lists below.