InTrans / Apr 26, 2016

Porco Rosso review: Whole-hogged

Go! Magazine

Often referred to as one of Director Hayao Miyazaki’s “most underrated films,” Porco Rosso epically manages to meld story and animation into a masterpiece for all ages.

After his animation studio—Studio Ghibli—produced the highly-recognized, child-like films My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), it was good to see an out-and-out action film. Porco Rosso (1992) did not disappoint then and sure doesn’t now. Miyazaki was able to keep that emotion and stirring storyline that is evident in all Studio Ghibli films.

The difference? He takes transportation to a new level. There are so many glorious scenes of flight and air battles, and it is so evident that Miyazaki really understands the world of airplanes—their weight, the physics, everything.

Porco Rosso with his turbine
Porco Rosso with his turbine.
Photo from Flickr user Snautsego

Porco Rosso was adapted to film from a three part watercolor manga written by Miyazaki himself. The character of Porco Rosso is a WWI Italian fighter pilot cursed to look like a pig and spends his time as an aerial bounty hunter in the Adriatic Sea. In a world full of sky pirates, Porco definitely has his hands full.

The plot revolves around Porco and his escapades. He has a troubled past, which haunts him, and although we never truly find out how he was cursed, it doesn’t matter. We keep watching, following him on his flying missions. So the “problem” in the film is less about good vs. evil, but more of a fight for survival and, of course, love. As with many Studio Ghibli movies, there is often a love interest who, in her own right, is fiercely independent and is in no need of a savior. In Porco Rosso, we have Gina, owner of the Hotel Adriano.

Speaking of strong women characters, we are also introduced to Fio Piccolo. She is a young aircraft designer and flight engineer that has recently moved from America to help the Piccolo Aircraft Company to cope after the Great Depression. She is a savvy negotiator and a go-getter, and it was refreshing to see a typical “tomboy” character as thoroughly feminine. So instead we get Fio, a woman just being herself and being great in a traditionally male profession.

Fio Piccolo and Porco Rosso eating dinner.
Fio Piccolo and Porco Rosso.
Photo from Flickr user Amal FM

So let Porco Rosso be overlooked no more! For anyone with a love for flight and adventure, this film is it.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Genre(s): Animation, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: PG

Runtime: 94 min

By Brandy Haenlein, Go! Program Coordinator

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