Cultivating magic

Earlier this year, the Studio Ghibli catalogue was added to Netflix. It goes without saying that the films are absolute classics that reward re-watching, but I particularly admire Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Part of that’s down to the setting – a vaguely European coastal city that makes you want to step into each and every frame and take a wander. It’s also got plenty of endearing characters like Ursula, the cabin-dwelling painter, and Osono, the kindly baker.

But what strikes a chord with me is the small, sweet, soulful story about our hero finding her calling in the wide world.

I was curious about the source material, Eiko Kadono’s 1985 book. Bang on time, a splendid new Puffin edition came along – in a fresh translation by Emily Balistrieri, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton.

This part of the author’s introduction struck that same chord:

As I wrote and revised, wrote and revised, I discovered that I loved writing. As long as I created stories, I could live an exciting life with new discoveries every day. And I decided that, if nothing else, I would continue writing as long as I live. I’ll never forget the peace of mind I felt at that moment – I sensed the magic inside myself. I’ve come to believe that everyone has some type of magic inside them. If a person can find their magic and lovingly cultivate it, they’ll truly feel alive every day.

Eiko Kadono

That idea of finding something that you love doing and that will always nourish you is something that echoes powerfully through the book, and it became even more of a theme in Miyazaki’s film.

It’s a feeling I recognise now and am trying to hold onto.

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