Porco Rosso Anime Review
Kurenai no Buta
US Release By
In an alternate 1930s, Marco Rosso, the Crimson Pig, flies the skies over the Atlantic Ocean, protecting ships from the sky gangs. An ace pilot, Marco has the face of a pig. He fights for love, for honour, for money and for his pride. But when challenged by cocky American pilot Donald Curtis he must fight for his life and his position as the best.
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In the underrated Porco Rosso, Hayao Miyazaki returns to the sky he last visited in his famous Laputa: Castle in the Sky in a rollicking adventure of pirates and romance in 1930s Europe. Porco Rosso is an excellent mix of adventure, humour and romance which, although slow at times, keeps your attention for the entire length of the film. The characters are all fully fleshed out, as always, and Marco is a heck of a character--one of Miyazaki's most enduring creations. Watching the characters interact--Marco with Gina, Fio with Marco, Curtis with Gina--is the strength of the film and is really lovely. There are no good or bad guys, just the hero, his friends and his enemies. Backed with lovely visuals and a quality voice cast, there's little this film is lacking.
Porco Rosso is a wonderful film which will appeal to all. This film leaves me with two enduring images: the silent place above the clouds where the pilots go, and Marco, in the middle of the night, selecting his bullets by lamp light.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Hayao Miyazaki returns to the sky he last visited in his famous Laputa: Castle in the Sky in a rollicking adventure of pirates and romance in 1930s Europe. Porco Rosso is one of his lesser known and underrated works which has never seen video release outside of Japan but has appeared on TV on occasion. As usual, this is excellent work.
For starters, the technical details. The animation is very clean and detailed--Porco Rosso was an early nineties film and as a result the animation is superior to any other Miyazaki film save Princess Mononoke (obviously). The flight scenes exceed those of Laputa and the character designs are original and clean, although a few faces seem somewhat familiar (especially among the sky gangs). The scenery is very nice, especially the sunsets, and the settings look exactly like the period they're meant to.
On the sound mix side the voice acting is, as a whole, extremely good. None of the voices are irritating and there are several standouts, including Curtis, Gina and Marco himself. The music isn't the best ever to appear in a Miyazaki film but is still very good, fun and best of all, appropriate. Gina's singing especially is lovely.
Now we come to the story. Porco Rosso is an excellent mix of adventure, humour and romance which, although slow at times, keeps your attention for the entire length of the film. The characters are all fully fleshed out, as always, and Marco is a heck of a character. One of the surprising things I found about the film was that I could take Marco completely seriously as a character even though he is a man with the face of a pig. He is, in fact, a Character with a capital C, and is one of Miyazaki's most enduring creations, along with Totoro and Nausicaa. His past is intriguing but is not the centre of the film adds to the story rather than detracting from it. Watching the characters interact--Marco with Gina, Fio with Marco, Curtis with Gina--is the strength of the film and is really lovely. There are no good or bad guys, just the hero, his friends and his enemies.
The story as a whole may not seem too original when you step back and look at is as a whole, but is really a wonderful tale, with plenty of twists. The climax and ending, although not as powerful as those in Miyazaki's more fantastic films (such as Nausicaa and Princess Mononoke) is engaging and fun. The political aspects of the story are interesting, but like Marco's background, which it is tied with, does not take over the story as in some movies. The cinema scene is the most of it and is well crafted to give you the gist of what's going on without boring you.
There is plenty of humour in the film, mostly revolving around the Mama Aiuto sky gang but also about Marco and Piccolo's rebuilding of Marco's plane. The most obvious in-joke is when Piccolo installs a 'Ghibli' engine into Marco's plane. Watching a full team of Piccolo's female family working n the plane is highly amusing as it overturns Marco's semi-sexist attitudes about women in men's job. Surprisingly, the film features no "chauvinist pig" jokes. The flash lamp argument between the sky gangs before the attack on the liner is hilarious, as are the actions of the Mama Aiutos, especially their captain at the carnival preceding the fight. Watching Fio, a girl of seventeen, talk down an entire gang of pirates is worth your time on its own.
The end of the film is yet another interesting twist, and the final narrative makes for a very strange ending, but not necessarily a bad one. Overall, Porco Rosso is a wonderful film which will appeal to all. This film leaves me with two enduring images: the silent place above the clouds where the pilots go, and Marco, in the middle of the night, selecting his bullets by lamp light.
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Laputa is the closest thing I can think of, with an extra veil of fantasy which this film lacks.
Notes and Trivia
Porco Rosso is based on a short, 15-page watercolor comic by Hayao Miyazaki called "Hikoutei Jidai" ("Age of the Flying Boat"). It was originally serialized during 1989 in a Japanese magazine for scale model enthusiasts, Model Graphix. Way back in 1993 it was published in English in Animerica magazine.
Aside from Disney's high-profile dub, there was also a little-known English dub made so the movie could be shown as an in-flight movie on Japan Airlines. This version was, apparently, also shown on Australian TV.
US DVD Review
The 2-disc set, like the rest of Disney's North American Ghibli DVDs, is spectacular. The video is beautiful anamorphic widescreen, there are full soundtracks in Japanese, English (with a big-name cast), and French (also big-name), plus a proper English subtitle track, as the English dialogue differs significantly from the original. The second disc is full of extras. The only down side of the whole thing is that when you start playing the film it begins with a brief commentary by John Lasseter; it's easy to skip, but annoying.
Though there is some violence and very vague mature themes, everything is light and mild enough to be suitable for most ages.
Violence: 1 - Dogfights and slapstick and its all pretty harmless.
Nudity: 0 - Bzzzt. Miyazaki, remember?
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Light romance.
Language: 1 - Nothing of note.