Hayao Miyazaki’s name is synonymous with success, and for good reason. People who don’t even know what ‘Anime’ is have probably seen at least one of his films, almost all of which are brilliant. Just look at all the amazing and unique stories he’s given to us for all these years! Spirited away still remains one of my all-time favourite movies, and while Porco Rosso doesn’t quite match up to it, it’s still one of more enjoyable anime movies I’ve seen.For starters, the titular character of this movie is a pig. A pig. Can you imagine watching a movie about a pig who flies airplanes? The premise itself sounds absurd, but somehow, Miyazaki manages to weave a splendid tale about it.
One thing I noticed and liked about the movie, was how everyone and even the movie itself took Porco in stride. Normally, a talking and walking pig would be enough to make people question their sanity or bring about a whole host of other problems. But in this movie, no one so much as bat’s an eyelash at Porco’s appearance. They treat him like how they would treat anyone else, and I found it quite interesting that they didn’t judge him based on his appearances, but rather, on his personality and reputation. There were comments and name calling flung at him by other characters, but those were delivered with the intention to annoy or insult, not degrade who he was.
Think of it as your best friend calling you an idiot. If some random stranger called you that, you would probably take offence. But since it’s someone you know, you brush it off with a laugh or a grin because you know that there’s no real malice behind it. Those were the vibes I got from the movie. Which is pleasant.
Porco Rosso is not only about the pig himself, but also about his friends/rivals. A good chunk of the film is dedicated to exploring a few character’s backstories, which is tied to Porco’s own past as well. This makes them more interesting, and not merely a one dimensional character meant to move the plot along. They begin to seem like real people, flaws and all, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel attached to them. That was another aspect of the movie that I felt was really well done.
The only bone I have to pick is that Porco Rosso feels like an epilogue, which is good if that was what Miyazaki was aiming for. Though not a lot, there were quite a few parts of the movie whose main purpose was to introduce to us the history of where the film is set, and several character’s backstories. This works to flesh out the characters, but at the same time it constantly made me feel like I was missing out on something interesting. I was even at a certain point of the movie and was thinking to myself, “Aw, I want to see more of what happened before.”
While not really a major issue, I just found it kind of disappointing that we were shown snippets of a more interesting and exciting era, but we can’t see more of it because the movie is not about the past – it about what is presently happening to Porco. Some people might disagree about it being a flaw, but it is definitely something that irks me.
In the end, Porco Rosso was an absolute joy to watch. There seems to be only the English dubbed version of it floating around on the net, but I watched it in Japanese dub since I bought the movie on DVD. Personally, I think that the Japanese dub is better because of how well the Seiyuu’s are able to bring life to their respective characters. I would definitely find time to watch this movie again.