Features and Columns · Movies

‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ and How to Survive Creative Burnout

“Without even thinking about it, I used to be able to fly. Now I’m trying to look inside myself and find out how I did it.”
Kikis Delivery Service
Studio Ghibli
By  · Published on December 10th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about what Kiki’s Delivery Service can teach us about creative burnout.


Has this ever happened to you?! Have you found yourself incapable of mustering the willpower to tackle tasks that once brought you joy?! Have you lost your passion for creative outlets, and no matter how much your brain tells you to do the thing, you cannot, no matter how hard you try, do the thing!?

If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from burnout.

As defined by the World Health Organization, burnout may not be a “medical condition,” but as all those who’ve experienced it can testify: it sucks! Burnout is characterized by feelings of emotional and physical depletion, increased distance from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. Burnout is nothing to handwave away. And for those of us working from home, the lack of distinction between work and play can only complicate matters further.

It just so happens that one of the best movies about how burnout feels — and how to yank yourself out of it — is an animated “kid’s movie.” That last part is in quotations because, frankly, Kiki’s Delivery Service is for everyone. Directed by the great grump Hayao Miyazaki and released in 1989, the feature follows a young witch trying to make her way in the world all on her own.

After a solid start in the bread-delivery business, though, Kiki steadily loses her willingness to “get this bread,” as it were, causing her magical abilities to wane in the process.

As the video essay below underlines, Kiki’s Delivery Service doesn’t just paint a distressingly relatable portrait of creative burnout, it offers some insight into how to emerge out the other side in (relatively) one piece. (Psst. the secret is to actually take a step back and relax.) The essayist takes a personal approach to untangling their own experience with burnout. Which is, perhaps, the most laudable way to approach the subject.

Watch “What Kiki’s Delivery Service Teaches Us About Burn Out”:


Who made this?

This video essay on what Kiki’s Delivery Service can teach us about burnout is by Trugoy, an up-and-coming video essayist based in the United Kingdom. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here and follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).