Porco Rosso is undoubtedly yet another precious anime produced by the fantastic Studio Ghibli. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, it was originally intended to be a short. Fortunately, for the sake of great entertainment, it finally became a full-length film. Although it wasn’t targeted at younger audience at first, I can really see why it is dearly loved not only by adults, but also by little kids. It is an unforgettable animation experience for the whole family.
What’s unconventional for this film is its realistic setting in time and space. There aren’t many Ghibli works that show a story, which takes place in a specific location, during an authentic period in the history of our world.
Loved by women, loathed by men, Porco Rosso is an aging and tired aviation pioneer who once used to be an air pilot fighting for the Italian army in the Great War. However, on one of his last missions, when the enemies wiped out his whole squadron, he was mysteriously changed into a humanoid pig. Nowadays, his life consist of eliminating air pirates, rescuing kidnapped people, and living on a secluded island somewhere on the sea. One day, a handsome American named Curtis challenges him to a sky-high duel. After Porco’s valuable and famous jet smashes into pieces and no one knows whether he survived or not, he is forced to visit his old friend and brilliant engineer Piccolo. He assigns the job of rebuilding Porco’s plane to his granddaughter Fio, who turns up to be just as good as her granddad. Astounded by the magnificent job that she and her family did, Porco decides (maybe not at all purposely) to fight Curtis once again, in what turns up to be a fast-paced air combat turned boxing match.
In all of its beautiful, colorful, and typically-Ghibli animation, Porco Rosso brings up some really serious and significant issues that arose in the inter-war period, namely the growth of fascism in Italy and gender discrimination. This is yet another reason that shows the abilities of Japanese animators and screenwriters, who, through marvelous anime films, are able to deliver a great story, which could have been as well made into a live action feature.
The dubbing in the Disney version is really decent, as the voices are actually properly matched with all the appearing characters. So if you won’t have a chance to watch the Japanese original with subtitles, be sure to check out the dubbed one.
Even though Porco Rosso may not be the most emotionally engaging of Miyazaki‘s pictures, it still is altogether a visually impressive movie, packed with a well-developed story and many laughable and adorable characters. In the end, even the scary air pirates turn out to be more joyful and helpful than one might think.