This may be the most revered of films I have watched with my child! The film is so beautiful to watch and listen to, and the pacing gives lots of opportunities to be still and listen; it encourages the patience and attentiveness not fostered by so many children's films. It's also a good glimpse into a way of life that may be in some ways very different from our own. There's educational value in learning about another culture and how resources are used/shared in rural villages.
I am absolutely blown away by the strong messages of compassion and resilience that this movie has helped me share with my son. Kirikou is born, or rather births himself, and is immediately asking questions. His mother is patient and nurturing, but still firm and honest with him. The parent-child dynamic they model is heartening.
Precocious Kirikou is not satisfied with the oversimplification of Karaba the sorceress' character. (He later uncovers a subtle message that it's more about truth vs fear or ignorance than good vs evil.) What's more, he not only seeks to solve Karaba's evilness, but is able to see beauty in her despite her cruelty and greed. As Kirikou encounters challenges, we are let in on his problem solving processes, including his feeling tired, scared, etc. We see him persevere with indomitable optimism and courage, but also a solid understanding of who he is and what his limitations may be.
SPOILER: Karaba's evilness and magical powers both stem from a thorn once forced into her back (a possible allusion to rape?). I constantly refer to "thorns" that people might have that cause them to make bad or mean choices. As my son matures, we discuss ways that we, like Kirikou, might help ourselves and others to resolve the underlying causes of our pain and sometimes subsequent bad behavior. It's been a gift to have this poignant metaphor to discuss such deep themes with my younger child.
The illustrated nudity in this film is refreshingly respectful and non-sexual, though I see how Karaba's body jewelry might be surprising. Our family did not find it distracting. A child who's experienced breastfeeding and seen little kids naked won't see anything shocking.
Also, there's a sequel: Kirikou and the Wild Beasts. I think yet another is on its way.