If you’re like me, the ongoing state of the world has meant a retreat into old childhood classics. The anime Kiki’s Delivery Service, a perennial favorite, has been a particularly refreshing escape: a young witch flying around the gorgeously illustrated countryside with the help of her cat Jiji, meeting kindly people and making friends wherever she goes. It’s a classic film inspired by a classic novel—one that’s just been translated into English for a new edition, released earlier this month.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Kiki’s Delivery Service author Eiko Kadono, and her translator Emily Balistrieri. We discuss Kadono’s original inspiration for Kiki, what it feels like to return to a book thirty-five years after publication, and the challenges of translating such a beloved children’s book from Japanese to English.