Porco Rosso – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Kurenai no Buta

 

Similar: The Wind Rises

The Princess and the Pilot

Laputa: Castle in the Sky

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Historical Action Adventure Comedy

Length: 1 hr. 33 min. movie

 

Positives:

  • Great animation and visuals.
  • Entertaining performances.
  • Quirky characters and world.
  • Great humour.

Negatives:

  • Not enough backstory.
  • More history wouldn’t go amiss.

“Face it, I’m a pig,” says Porco, aptly characterising this film. Porco Rosso is the story of a World War I ace pilot cursed to have the face of a pig. After he defeats the same band of sea pirates yet again, the pirates hire American ace Curtis to crush him in a duel. He’s pompous, self-obsessed, fancies himself the best pilot and pride of Hollywood. It’s a battle of chivalry, charm, and wits across the Mediterranean skies and seas.

At its heart, Porco Rosso is an adventure of fun. There is something in the characters’ quirks, in the way everyone acts that lifts my mood. When pirates attack a cruise liner, the passengers come out on deck to cheer at the spectacle, excited to become hostages. It sounds silly, yet it’s fun. Everyone is excited by danger – old women love it when the secret police come snooping around. The pirates are hilarious, a rowdy rabble that causes more damage to themselves than to the enemy, reminiscent of Asterix & Obelix.

Porco seems to be the only normal character in this cast, barring his curse, of course. He’s very much a man for himself. He lives in a secluded spot that would to the dream holiday destinations, only venturing out for supplies and work as a bounty hunter. He has given up on the world, though isn’t depressed. When challenged by Curtis, Porco hires Fio, a young engineer with a feisty enough personality to kick even Porco into action. She delivers one of the film’s funniest lines during a pirate encounter: “A girl! We got a girl here!” exclaims a pirate. She shoots back, “So what? Half the world’s population is women, idiot!” She then schools them on the art of seaplanes and the honour of a sea pilot.

A lack of depth, particularly compared to other Ghibli works, is Porco Rosso’s sole major flaw. Porco’s pig-faced curse is left unexplored, vague in its origins. In fact, Porco in general, as a character, doesn’t receive much backstory beyond one, admittedly beautiful, sequence from the war. I got the impression there was more history left unexplored, almost as though I could find it on the cutting room floor. They had room for surprises, but didn’t fill.

Nonetheless, Porco Rosso is a fun adventure. Porco and Curtis’s duel had me in stitches. Legendary.

Art – Very High

A Studio Ghibli production – expect greatness. The Mediterranean is gorgeous. As someone who has been there many times, I find the architecture and environments perfect.

Sound – High

Good dub and original. Michael Keaton (Batman, Birdman) as Porco makes him a humorous grouch who doesn’t care about anything. Cary Elwes (Robin Hood Men in Tights) lends a hilarious pretentiousness to Curtis. Very entertaining performances. Pleasant music for soaring over the Mediterranean.

Story – High

An ace pilot cursed with the face of a pig battles pirates and his greatest rival yet. An enjoyable film, even if it won’t surprise you or leaves history unexplored.

Overall Quality – High

Recommendation: Not a must watch, but Porco Rosso is an easy recommendation – great for the kids.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

CharmFluid AnimationStunning Art Quality

Negative: None

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