Written & Directed by Hayao Miyazaki/Produced by Toshio Suzuki/Music by Joe Hisaishi
Once a WWI ace fighter pilot, Porco Rosso is now a hero and an iconic figure around the Adriatic as he flies his legendary red sea plane to hunt down the sea-plane pirates who plague the area. It’s not uncommon for reporters to track him down at his friend Gina’s bar, looking for an exclusive story . . . although Porco prefers isolating himself in an upstairs room where Gina has a table set aside just for him. Of course, he’s not popular with everyone; some of his enemies actually plot against him to get his plane shot down! And when he goes to Milan to get his plane repaired, well, things get even more interesting, since the Italians have a warrant out for his head.
I absolutely love Studio Ghibli movies, and Hayao Miyazaki’s ones in particular. Porco Rosso is no exception, although it’s pretty different from some of his other stories. It’s one of the most centered in a real place and time–in spite of the whole fantasy element of Porco’s being turned into a pig, which is never explained in great detail. The story has a nice balance of action, adventure, humor, and romance, even while dealing with difficult topics like war; I find that quite impressive. Plus, between Gina and Fio, there are some incredible, gutsy heroines (Miyazaki’s heroines in general are some of the best!). I’m not really into aircraft, but Miyazaki’s planes in here are really neat to see (even if not 100% realistic)–if you can’t tell, aircraft is something of an obsession for him (just watch his other movies, and you’ll see what I mean). The art in Porco Rosso is really pretty too–not to a Spirited Away level of detail, but very nice still–and the setting is absolutely beautiful. I love the open ending, too. Overall, I think Porco Rosso is a fun, touching movie–although I would only recommend it for an older (PG 13) audience because of some of the allusions and language.