魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 1

Whoops, completely missed that. Thanks for pointing it out.

That does help, actually. I do understand the difference between a noun and a noun+する+こと, and that the meaning is being tweaked with each addition, but that doesn’t make it feel less weird to read a sentence like that for the first time.

Eyyyy, my current Japanese teacher showed our class this same clip!


Hm. While it might be a faux pas to double post, I think it’s best to separate this from my previous post.

I actually went and finished the chapter last night. Couldn’t help myself. But I’ll keep reading a bit at a time and posting my thoughts and bits I wasn’t 100% sure of. Otherwise I might not be able to resist the draw of the next chapter before it comes time. From page 9 of the red book:

  • おとなになりかけでした - I’m not sure what the かける is adding to this line. Would the meaning change if it were just おとなになりました?

  • レースの下着のことばかり気にして - the のことばかり throws me off. Is it saying “from no more than thinking about lace underwear”?

  • キキのほうは鼻の頭と両足のひざっこぞうに合計三つもこぶをつくってしまいました - The のほう and も after 三つ don’t seem to fit nicely into what I already know. Is it saying she’d amassed a total of three lumps between the tip of her nose and both knees?



なりかける is 成り掛ける. 掛ける added to the stem of some verbs is a common form to mean “almost”, “something began but didn’t complete”. So this means something like on the verge of becoming an adult, instead of just becoming an adult.


Xのことばかり means “only of/about/etc X”. So this means thinking only about laced underwear, being concerned about laced underwear all the time, etc


The も after 三つ changes the meaning to become something like “as many as 3 things” (in general with a surprised nuance). And yes it’s saying what you thought. (Not sure what you’re asking for the のほう, since it’s only stating that “as for Kiki, …” This doesn’t stand alone, depends on the previous sentence)


Oh man, went camping last weekend and had to catch up on work so I’ve gotta get started ASAP with this book! There’s already so much discussion happening; I don’t wanna fall behind, haha.


Okay! Much easier than I thought! Managed to get through the first page and I’m already having so much fun with this book.

There were a few vocab words I had to reference in the sheet, but honestly at level 20 this was surprisingly easy to get through! Some of the grammar and idioms gave me a hard time (e.g. ”「木という木」 or 「嵐でもないのに、ときどき大きな音をだすことがあるのです。」), but seeing other people put it in context really helped out.

I’ve tested out my Japanese with manga before, but this was the first time I’ve attempted to read through Japanese prose. Even with my limited experience, the way the author paints this quaint little town nestled in verdant forested hills and mountains just has such a lovely charm to it. I’m so excited to continue!


I’m a little bit behind as I’ve just started today, but I’m hoping to catch up and be on schedule with you guys。I’ve just read the first two pages and I’m really encouraged by how much I really understood, the grammar seems like a perfect level for me (I’ve just finished Genki II). Vocab is my main issue now, I’m so grateful to have such an extensive vocabulary list available. I’m going to try and study the vocab a week in advance but who knows how well that’ll go.

Edit: I know nothing about forum etiquette so forgive me for anything I do wrong but I just had a thought. My book doesn’t actually match any of the covers posted here, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a different edition of the red book? Does anyone else use this one?)


Looking at the vocabulary list, it looks like there was some confusion of the meaning of the section on page 16


I interpreted かたっぽう as a variant of 片方 but it looks like others interpreted it differently on the vocabulary list so I’m interested to see if others agree

To translate to English “…Kiki dislikes that other kind of magic so it’s understandable.”

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I also understood it as 片方 (one thing of the two that witches do).

And I just remembered athomasm’s tip to use weblio, which agrees with our understanding. But no dialect information this time :pensive:

Also thank you @nemurineko for linking that episode! I had watched it some time ago but totally forgot its title and everything. Will rewatch asap :slight_smile:


Gosh, somehow there are always more editions :grin: does it at least match up with the page numbers of one of the editions in the vocab sheet?

By the way, we still don’t have any page numbers for version 3 of the book in the vocab sheet, if anyone wants to generously contribute those :eyes:

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There sure are. My book has the same cover as V1, but the page numbers are completely different! Thankfully, it’s less of a problem when you pre-study all the vocab before starting the chapter.


I would agree with this - I think it makes a lot more sense in context.

I’ve got a couple things that are stumping me at the moment. First the sentence:

So I generally interpret this as meaning: “These days, the number of times the bells rings has remarkably decreased”

But the bit that is confusing me is 鈴のなる回数. Why is there a の after the bell? Is it, like when we discussed ことになる above a grammar point? Or is acting as “the one”, as in, “the bells (which we have been talking about)”?

My other question has to do with when we are introduced to Jiji. I’m not clear what the father is saying about the cat:

So for the first sentence:
そのうち = One of these days
消えた魔法 = Disappearing magic
またできるようになる =to still become possible
ことだってある = basically nominalizes what was said previously + there is is
かもしれない = perhaps

So… “One of these days, perhaps the disappearing magic is still possible”? Typing it all out has made it a bit clearer,. I think

Then the next phrase is something along the lines of “Afterall, isn’t there a black cat?” Meaning something like, there is perhaps hope of reviving the old magic as we still have black cats. That’s my interpretation after all

Oh - and happy Canada day to my fellow Canadians:)

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This one I think I can answer. The なる there is actually 鳴る, ‘to ring’. So the の is possessive. It’s the bell’s number of times rung.


I think I finally figured it out! This なる must be 鳴る, not 成る! Kind of annoying that it’s written in hiragana. So it literally means “the bell’s ringing frequency”

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Oh geez, that seems so obvious now - definitely the lack of kanji tripped me up. Thanks for the insight!

Totally agree with you on the first sentence, with one slight deviation: This is “disappeared magic” (past tense). Because there are only two types of magic left, and all the other types already disappeared.


Wait, Are there only two types of magic left, or does Kokiri only know two? I read it as magic is being lost, and as a result, even a genuine witch like Kokiri only knows two kinds.

Went through the last of the chapter for a second time today. Looks like anki is only going to be so much help unless I pare down the cards. Chapter 3 simply has too many vocab words listed on the sheet to study SRS-style in time. Well, it helped me dive into the first chapter, I suppose.

No comments tonight on the last couple pages. Just anticipation for the next chapter.


tfw you want to read more Kiki but you’ve got 200+ reviews to get through orz


I also interpreted it this way, but don’t have my book on me atm to re-read that in context and confirm.

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Hm, ran into a bit of trouble already with this phrase 「ふつうではありません] on page 12 of the red book. I get that the context is about the townspeople gossiping about Kiki, but what is this saying about something not being normal? Am I right to assume that based on the context of the sentence, the townspeople are gossiping about Kiki because she’s not normal?

Following that sentence is the phrase 「ちっちゃなくせに、高い木の鈴鳴らすのですから」. Previous discussions translated this as Kiki having a little peculiarity of ringing the bell in the tall tree. Is this another definition for くせに ?

This is my first time reading through Japanese prose, and having to parse out meaning via context is still wonky for me haha.

My impression is that they’re saying something to the effect of that this is a “looks like a town like any other” but if you look a little closer it is “not normal at all” (because of magic and witches right?)

Edit: There are two places where the author used the same 普通ではありません for literary effect.