魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 4


#1

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image 魔女の宅急便 image

Starting date: January 21st
Finishing date: February 10th

Vocabulary List

Vocab Spreadsheet

魔女の宅急便 Vocab
In Raionus’ vocab list, this chapter begins from #448

Characters in This Chapter

Characters
  • キキ - a young witch
  • コキリ - Kiki’s mother (a witch)
  • オキン - Kiki’s father (non-magical)
  • ジジ - Kiki’s black cat (黒猫)

Chapter Summary

Chapter 4 Summary

Chapter 4. Kiki opens a shop
After a few days of anxiety about living as a witch in a town like Koriko, Kiki wonders if she could make a living delivering small items for busy people. She explains to Osono-san that people would pay for this by sharing something with her. Osono-san offers Kiki space to use as a shopfront and recommends the memorable name “Witch’s Express Home Delivery”, despite Kiki’s concerns. After helping Osono-san following the birth of her daughter, Kiki proudly opens her business - but it has no customers. Osono-san is apologetic and Kiki wonders despondently why people are so negative about witches, but her spirits lift with the beautiful weather, and when she notices a young woman gesturing to her from a nearby apartment, she goes to investigate.
The woman, a seamstress who seems surprised to find Kiki has neither fangs nor horns, offers to shorten Kiki’s dress to a more fashionable length in exchange for the prompt delivery of a birthday gift to her nephew, a little rascal who will make his aunt do ninety-four handstands if it is late. Kiki and Jiji set off with a birdcage containing a handsewn black toy cat, almost identical to Jiji, on a silver cushion. Jiji attempts to enter the cage as they are flying, and the toy cat falls out, down into the forest below where Kiki is unable to find it. Upset at the prospect of failing her first customer, Kiki tells Jiji to act as the toy and delivers him to a small boy covered in band-aids. Kiki returns to the forest and searches unsuccessfully. As she considers sewing part of her skirt into a replacement toy, she overhears a woman singing about the colour black. The woman, an artist who has just found and painted the toy cat, is as excited to meet a witch as Kiki is to relocate the toy, and wants to paint her immediately. Kiki takes the toy, rescues her friend from the embrace of the sleeping rascal, then returns so that the artist can paint a portrait of the witch and her cat. Delighted to find another person who accepts her, Kiki writes to her parents that evening to reassure them and tell them about her new venture.

Discussion rules:

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We’re discussing grammar, vocab usage and its context, checking if our reading comprehension is right, interesting plot/character development, etc.


魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 5
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 3
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Home Thread - Beginner's Book Club
#2

The opening pages with all the narration are always really difficult. I don’t have time to write up the whole text and break it down, but the hardest part is the paragraph that starts with このままこの町で (page 63 blue book).

The first part sounds like Kiki is saying as things are going she’ll have to pretend to live with the townspeople (humans? Does Kiki not consider herself human?). And if she can’t, she can always go home if she can bear the embarrassment. My main question comes from the next part.

「そんなことをしたら、頭だけちょっと出して一生を終わるようなみのむしと同じになってしまう、みのむしにはわるいけど、あたしはいやだとキキは思うのでした」

A large part of my confusion is coming from the 頭だけちょっと出して part. I’m not really sure how to interpret that on its own or with the rest of the sentence. I’m honestly having trouble stringing together the whole part through なってしまう, and not knowing the meaning of the beginning isn’t helping. Best I have is that it’s something about Kiki becoming like a bagworm moth whose life is over (if she goes back home).

Another part of my confusion comes from the combination of みのむしにはわるいけど and あたしはいやだ. Sounds to me like she’s saying bagworm moths are bad, but I don’t want to become one (based on the になってしまう from the previous part). I’m confused here because I don’t see the contradiction that けど would normally indicate. Can けど be used to just combine two parts of a sentence without actually meaning “but”, like が sometimes does?


#3

This also confused me, because I’d never heard of ミノムシ before. The Wikipedia article on bagworm moths may offer some insight:

In the larval stage, bagworms extend their head and thorax from their mobile case to devour the leaves of host plants […] A bagworm begins to build its case as soon as it hatches. Once the case is built, only adult males ever leave the case, never to return, when they take flight to find a mate.

Kiki is comparing herself to a moth that never leaves its home, other than to occasionally poke just its head out to eat.

I’m confused here because I don’t see the contradiction that けど would normally indicate.

ミノムシ悪い – the に indicates that this is bad to the moths; in other words, that she’s being unkind to them by saying that she doesn’t want to be a hikikomori like one of them. But (けど) she really doesn’t.

I believe this paragraph might be roughly translated as:

I can do it, I can live in this town like a normal person. If I can’t, I can return home if I can stand the humiliation. But I’d be like a bagworm that pokes its head out once and then gives up on life. I’m sorry, bagworms, but I don’t want to be like that.


#4

Thanks, I’ll read it again with all that in mind.


#5

I’m on the first page of this chapter (p. 71 red book), and yeah, it’s pretty confusing.

I believe I’ve got the gist of it — Kiki is afraid to leave her room above the flour shed, even though she’s going to have to buy food soon. But I don’t know what to make of the last sentence on this page:

この町 で は なにも かも が、知らんぷり した 顔 で 動いて いる よう に 見える のです。

I’ve inserted spaces where I think the words are. I think the phrase before the comma is something like “As for in this town, it was probably nothing, but” (referring to her being afraid to leave, I guess?).

Then 知らんぷり is feigning ignorance, pretending not to know something. So… “seemingly moving with feigning-ignorance faces can be seen”? What?


#6

なにもかも is a phrase meaning “anything and everything”

My breakdown:
この町では = in this town
なにもかもが = anything and everything
知らんぷりした顔で = with faces feigning ignorance/pretending not to know
動いている = going/operating
ように見える = looks like/appears to
のです = the reason is that

So based on the context you provided, it seems she’s explaining why she’s afraid to go out to buy food, “Because (anything and) everything in this town appears to operate with faces feigning ignorance”, so I suppose she’s afraid of how well she’ll be received and helped

That’s my best guess :thinking:


#7

I love this bookclub. :grin: I got as far as “bagworm moth” 2 nights ago and went to bed. Following Damien’s explanation above, I thought I would read even more. Our local version of this type of moth is called a “case moth” and I am now happy that, should the need ever arrive, I can say it in Japanese!
Fun fact: the kanji for みの in みのむし is 蓑 which apparently means straw raincoat, which is what their cocoons look like.


#8

この町では - In this town, with は setting it in contrast to other towns (i.e., Kiki’s hometown)
なにもかもが、- everything and anything
知らんぷりした顔で - with a face that feigns ignorance
動いている - moves; in this case, metaphorically
ように見えるのです。 - appears as if

Put it together, and you get something like: Everyone in this town goes about acting like they don’t care.

知らんぷりした顔 is tricky because the literal translation doesn’t really capture it. Picture a kid from a small town where everyone knows everyone else dropped in the middle of the big city. People are rushing about, business is getting done, and it all seems so frantic and impersonal–nobody knows anyone else, nobody cares about you, nobody even smiles at you. 知らんぷり as in pretending not to see you, not to care about you.

The city presumably isn’t actually cold and impersonal; it just feels that way to a kid from a small town in the sticks who has never seen a place like this before.


#9

I still can’t get past the fact that “bagworm” just sounds disgusting. :slight_smile:

I wonder if this is a common metaphor in Japanese? I’ve never run into it before. In English, you’d probably compare yourself to a turtle or a clam instead.


#10

I guess the most common metaphor in English would be to a hermit, but perhaps writing a children’s book the author has sought out something which might be familiar to Japanese children? Or maybe she just had a fondness for them herself. One of life’s little mysteries…


#11

If reading this book has reminded me of one thing, it’s how much I love being able to use verbs to directly modify nouns (even if I’m still learning how to understand this intuitively). It’s one of my favorite aspects of the language, and I kind of wish I could do this in English.

For example:
「キキは、ようすを見にきたおソノさんに相談してみました。」

Smooth Translation:
Kiki tried to consult Osono-san, who had come to see how she was doing.

Literal Translation:
Kiki tried to consult the came-to-check-her-state-Osono-san

I just find it to be really interesting. :slight_smile:


#12

I found two curious things reading today. The first one is the name of おソノさん’s shop: グーチョキパン屋
From what I found, it seems to be a play on words with グーチョキパー, rock-paper-scissors in Japanese? Cool.

Then there is the number of the shop. The furigana for 八一八一 says はいはい so I’m guessing there’s something to it I don’t know about.


#13

I found a cute article about a bakery in Shizuoka-ken which has been built to look very similar to the グーチョキパン屋 in the movie. To me, the sign seems to be a sort of Japlish but using languages other than English (couldn’t figure out how to say that in one word!) I read it as a sort of multilingual pun “the good chocolate bread shop”, but that’s just me. :joy: It’s fantastic how we all try to make sense of the world!

This seems way more likely, in retrospect!


#14

Now I’m hungry.


#15

I Like how the Swedish version tackled the みのむし. They use snail. A snail that only pokes its head out to eat and then retreat back to the safety of its shell. That works!
I have something similar in my house. Stupid clothes moths I can’t get rid of -_-
They use cocoons like that too, sticking their heads out to eat and only leave once they transform in to months to reproduce. I have put all of my clothes in zipper bags! Ikea ones =P
Took forever, but so worth it! They have diminished to almost nothing, and my clothes are safe =P
I also have gluestrips with pheromones to attract them :wink:
I’m not sure if they are the same species as みのむし, but live the same way at least =)


#16

Page 74 (red book), Kiki is explaining how she doesn’t need much:

なければ ない よう に やって いく つもり です から

なければ is something like “if it doesn’t exist” and is often part of なければならない , which means must/should do. But we don’t have that here, unless it’s just been shortened colloquially. Then ように I guess means “seems like,” and I know つもりです expresses intention (and から is “because”), but what’s this やっていく she intends? To do and go?

From the context I imagine this all boils down to something like “if I don’t really need it, I’ll do without,” but I’m just not getting the grammar.


#17

This is a really fun sentence.

なければない is “if ない, then ない”. This is obviously a tautology, and is (I believe) just like English phrases like “if it happens, it happens”–it expresses willingness to accept an outcome which cannot be changed. In this case, “if I don’t have something, I don’t have it (and will deal with that fact)”.

やっていく is the 〜ていく form of やる (http://www.imabi.net/teikutekuru.htm). In this context, it describes doing something now, and onwards into the future. While やる can describe doing a specific thing (“I’ll do that”), in this case it’s referring to the wider scope of all the things you do. See: http://jisho.org/search/やって行く

So 〜ようにやっていく means something like “to live/proceed/get along in the manner of ~”.


#18

Yeah I’m wondering about that too…


#19

I think it’s just a play on words–if you take the first character in each digit of 8181, it sounds like はいはい/yes yes.


#20

Well, I got that much. But I figured the furigana was for the readers for some reason and the sign actually said either 「八一八一」or「8181」. I guess it’s technically in the quotes and maybe that means the furigana is actually on the sign, but it’s certainly an assumption.