魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 3

I think I understand it more now. Thank you!

So I think Kiki is getting ready in front of a mirror, excitedly. She’s turning towards the mirror, turning away, etc, checking herself out. It’s a big excitement.

So then this sentence happens, and I believe it’s saying something like “Not to be left out, Jiji is looking at the mirror from the side, and stretching and shrinking himself.” I’m interpreting this as the cat’s way of checking himself out. Literally I think it says, “Jiji also must not be defeated”, or it could mean be inferior to, but I think what they’re really saying is “not to be left out” or “not to be outdone”.


Page 34 (red book), Okino-san (the father) says:


ほんとうにまっくらな夜と、 it’s really a very dark night, and
まったく音のない truly without a sound
しずけさ stillness/quiet/serenity
が (topic particle)
なくなった disappeared/ran out
せい nature/character?
だ (copula — is?)
って quoting particle
いう人がいる there are people saying (or people who say)
の。 (explaining)

Once again I understand most of the parts, but can’t make much sense out of how it all goes together. Any ideas?

(I’m fairly stumped on the following sentence too, but don’t want to overwhelm the board with questions.)

I haven’t gotten here yet, but I can add a few thoughts…hopefully they are helpful.

So ____っていう noun can be used for “A noun called ____” Like you can say 水ていうレストランです, which would translate to “It’s a restaurant called “Mizu””. So I don’t think it’s that people are saying something, I think it’s describing a person or people.

Edit: Sounds like this was wrong! See the notes below. :relaxed:

I’m not very confident in, but I interpreted this dialogue as an explanation as to why certain types of magic are vanishing.


ほんとうにまっくらな夜と、 those very dark nights
まったく音のない truly without any sounds
しずけさ stillness/quiet/serenity
が (topic particle)
なくなった are gone now
せい fault
だ (copula — is?)
って quoting particle
いう人がいる there are people saying (or people who say)
の。 (explaining)

There are people saying that it is the fault of nights like that not existing anymore, that some magic has been lost. Next sentence explains that since there’s always some kind of sound outside, or some lights on, that is distracting and thus you can’t use magic well. Anyway, that’s how I interpreted it.


Like @matildar, I think if you translate せい as result or consequence (i.e. saying it is the fault of [the preceding part of the sentence]), it makes more sense.


Yes, that’s right. “Some people say that the reason (that magic is growing weaker) is that true darkness and quiet no longer exist.”


I just got through the part (page 39-40, red book) where Kiki says good-bye to her parents, and the villagers show up to wish her well.

My eyes got a little misty. It’s a very touching scene. :slight_smile:

OK, here’s one (page 44 red book) that has me stumped… it’s such a long string of helping verbs and modifiers that I’m not even sure where the words are. Describing the scenery…


OK, so something is floating in the sky/air and you can see it (見えます). I also get that it seems very light (軽やか). But what is all that stuff in the middle… and what exactly is floating in the air?

Just started on chapter 3 (I’m falling way behind :disappointed:) and I’m kind of lost on page 28 (blue book) when Kokiri is talking to Kiki. Here’s what I think I understood:

  • Kiki asks her mom to make the skirt shorter (while pulling on the skirt)
  • Mom asks why, saying it really suits her.
  • Kiki says it would be better (すてき-er) if she could see her legs a little more.
  • Mom says that way would be more elegant.
    • I don’t really understand the next part: 「おとなしく見えるほうがいいのよ」It would be better for her to appear more what? Docile? Obedient? All the meanings of おとなしい that I know seem odd here.
    • It’s also possible I’m understanding this backwards, so I’m not sure.
  • I didn’t understand the next sentence either.
  • Mom then changes the subject and says here’s your bento, putting it down and tapping Kiki on the shoulder.
  • Now’s the part I’m really confused by. Kiki had this really long dialog that I’m not really following.
    • Is she asking her mom to put in her 薬草 (but not rotting ones?) Into her bento? Jisho defined 薬草 as medicinal plants so I find that request odd. Can someone clear this up?
    • Then Kiki says this is an important meal (assuming you can translate たべる as meal in this context).
    • The next sentence I get the gist but why is it in the past tense? Is she being kind of dry and saying something like “well you’re my mom so I’m sure the bento you made for the day I leave was great”?
    • I don’t understand the next sentence other than the part about the medicinal plants going in the bread.
    • Then Kiki says something about not being able to do that (I assume make the medicinal plants, but maybe it’s something I missed from the previous sentence) which is unfortunate.

So I’m missing large portions of the dialog, especially at the end. Can someone help fill in the pieces for me?

You’re missing the first part of that line; I’ve added it back:

Including the previous few lines for context, I might make a rough translation as:

From time to time, light glittered between the dark mountains. Suddenly grey fields we also visible. But only occasionally as mountain followed mountain.
Kiki continued to fly on and on. The eastern sky began to slowly brighten. As she watched the light spread across the sky as if it was chasing the darkness away. As it did, the world began to change from grey and dark blue into a variety of colors. The low mountains were covered in the gentle green of spring and looked light enough to drift away into the sky. The rocky peaks gleamed as if wet. Kiki’s was overwhelmed by how just a single beam of sunlight could transform the world into such beauty.

低い山は春のやわらかい緑におおわれ: low mountains are covered in the gentle green of spring
空中に浮きあがろう (drift into the sky) と (see later) でも (“or something”, weakening the previous phrase and making it more about an impression than an actual belief that the mountains are going to cut loose and float) している (combined with the と earlier, this is ~とする, which means “look~” or “feel~”) ように (as if)
軽やかに見えます: appeared light


I think if you take out the でも it will be easier to understand.

浮きあがろうとしている --> trying to float, about to float up
Grammar: ~ようとする to try to, to be about to

XXXように軽やかに見えます --> looking light, like XXX
~ように見える to look like

I interpreted theでも as meaning ‘even’ i.e. the hills looked as if they might even float away


Kiki thinks a short skirt will be more stylish. Her mother counters that the long skirt is more elegant, and that it’s best for a witch to be more demure. There are plenty of people who will say all sorts of nasty things about witches even so.

“大人しい” gets translated in dictionaries as “obedient” or “docile”, but those words have a negative connotation in English that the Japanese word doesn’t usually carry. It describes someone who behaves properly, who does what they ought to, who doesn’t stand out in a bad way; all traits which are (usually) viewed as positives, especially for women, especially traditionally. (I presume there are plenty of contemporary Japanese punk women who take great pleasure in not being 大人しい, of course.) Kiki’s mother is basically telling her that witches have a bad rep to start with, so “sexy witch” is a bad costume choice.

I think the point that’s confusing you here is Kiki’s mother is the one talking, not Kiki. Kiki’s mother says that she’s put some herbs in the food that will keep it from spoiling for a little while. Her mother (Kiki’s grandmother) was really good at preservation; she could put a spell on the herbs that would keep the bread from ever spoiling or going stale. Alas, Kiki’s mom can’t do that.


Oh, I’ll have to reread that then knowing that it’s the mom talking.

I should really look up おとなしい in a monolingual dictionary.

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So I just reread the dialogue, and the way you explained it does make sense. What threw me off was the use of あたし. I don’t recall the mom using any first person pronoun up to this point (I suppose in dialog she probably usually refers to herself as かあさん if anything at all). I get that she has to use a first person pronoun here so it’s clear she’s talking about her mother, but it was a little surprising to hear the grown, married woman using あたし with her kid.

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I’m confused by this sentence:

目のとどくところはじからはじまでながめて (page 52, red book)

Well, I just figured it out as I was typing this. It was the “はじからはじまで” part that was tripping me up. But I realized it’s an expression. Here’s a link to weblio in case anyone else has the same problem.

“She gazed from one end to another, as far as her eye could reach.” Would something like that be correct?


That sentence really needs a particle, doesn’t it?! I just read that page this afternoon and I think I read the sentence three times trying to figure out where words started and ended.

I think we could translate “はじからはじまで” as “from horizon to horizon”.

I found another example of this phrase online:
本を端から端まで読む --> read a book from cover to cover
端 seems to be read as either はし or はじ.


Page 49 (red book), the other witch is describing some troubles with the local cows:

このあいだなんて、 recently…
首にさげてもらった鈴の音 the sound of the bells hanging from their necks
が気にいらない is not pleasing
って、 [quote, or nominalizing the whole bit up to this point]
だだこねたん ?!?
だから it’s because.

I think I got most of it, but だだこねたん has me stumped. だだ might be “fretting,” but what is こねた? I found 捏ねる but don’t see how it fits here.

I don’t have it in front of me for context, but,

だだをこねる = to fret/be unreasonable/be peevish/throw a tantrum

So, when you add ~の/んだから to a phrase like that, it’s used to imply that “both the speaker and listener know some fact, but expresses a strong feeling on the part of the speaker that the listener, although conscious of said fact, does not fully appreciate its implications”

So to me, it seems that the other witch is explaining that the sounds of the bells has become unpleasant recently, but as the listener (Kiki) may already know, that’s being peevish/unreasonable/throwing a tantrum (だだこねた), but that Kiki may not fully understand/appreciate the implications of it (んだから)

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I’m not sure I understand the full dialogue here, but wasn’t the other witch saying that the cows don’t like the bells so the cows have started throwing tantrums? Lol. So the other witch changed the bells. And then she stayed and sang a song for them hoping it would improve their mood. Or did I misunderstand it?

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