Porco Rosso - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: C
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan
  • MSRP: ¥4700
  • Running time: 93
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso

By Chris Beveridge     April 02, 2002
Release Date: March 29, 2002

Porco Rosso
© Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan

What They Say
Based on his own Manga short, Hayao Miyazaki's directorial follow-up to his big hit "Kiki's Delivery Service" is a fantastic tale of a different kind. Many speculate that the main character reflects his own self more than any other characters he created. The big hit film measured up to the fans' expectations and then some. Set in Italy in the late 1920's where the fascism began to make its power felt, the movie follows a pilot known as Porco Rosso who had been turned into a "pig" by a curse during an air battle. He now makes a living doing odd jobs which often involve hilarious high flying adventures, one of which leads him to a certain surprising realization. Even though its star is not a young heroine as in most of Miyazaki's films, this action-packed film has more than its share of his signature visuals and ideas. It's a 2-disc set.

The Review!
The 1992 feature from Ghibli, Porco Rosso was one of the movies that completely surprised me during a Ghibli film festival and turned me into even more of a fanatic. Miyazaki?s love of flight truly shines here.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The feature retains its original stereo mix and sounds just about perfect here. It uses the forward soundstage quite well with some excellent directionality across it during the various flying sequences and with the guns and other sound effects. Dialogue is also well maintained here and sounds spot on. The disc doesn?t stop there though and features a truly awful English language version that sounds absolutely cartoony and out of place as well as a French version. The French sounds like it fits well though, and I?ve previously listened to it on the European PAL release that?s now out of print.

Presented in its original aspect ration of 1.85:1 and done up in an anamorphic transfer, we get a gorgeous looking transfer. Outside of a few sections that are a bit grainy, there?s nothing I can complain about in this transfer. Colors are gorgeous, cross coloration is non-existent and line noise is a myth here. Top of the line stuff here, and the exact reason I?ve invested in a good TV and disc player.

The disc is presented in another of the internal flap cases to hold the two discs in this set in one regular sized case. The cover itself is done up in the same style as other Ghibli releases with the central image being the shot of the red plane and Porco Rosso in the pilots seat as it lifts off from the water. The back cover features a variety of planes flying overhead with a summary of the movie and all the technical and production features. The insert provides some nice black and white artwork while the reverse side lists how to use the DVD and its various features.

The menu system continues to be the main area where Ghibli discs have fallen short with their simple static pages and just ?get to the feature? feeling. Navigation is quick and easy if you know Japanese, but if not you kind of just stagger around a bit trying things. The best bet is to just play the feature and change things with the remote.

Though there?s a second disc of extras, we didn?t spend much time there though we?ll be going back to check out the storyboard feature in full. Supposedly there isn?t much else in the way of extras beyond some previews for upcoming releases and the next piece of new animation.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story of Porco Rosso is one that fits surprisingly well into the Miyazaki style. It takes place in the Mediterranean sometime in what feels like the 1920?s. The place is poor, but the people are good hearted and live life to the fullest. But even in beautiful area like this with the sea and the islands, there?s something that just shouldn?t be there causing trouble. And that?s the air pirates, a loose federation of various groups who scour the area for targets to plunder and steal from.

The movie opens up with one group, the Mama Aiuto?s, attacking a tourist boat where they loot it clean and then take fifteen schoolgirls hostage on their own seaplane for a getaway. The local authorities call in for Porco Rosso, a bounty hunter pilot who specializes in dealing with these pirates for a price. He lives in a gorgeous secluded little island with just a tent and his radio (and some booze of course). Porco takes the job and heads off to deal with the pirates.

The visuals of these planes flying and skimming over the water are just gorgeous to watch. They?re so beautifully animated that you can?t help but just let your jaw drop as it feels so effortlessly done. But it?s the attention to detail that really gets you as we see a variety of these kinds of planes from different times and they?re all wonderfully detailed. It?s these little things that make it feel ever so more realistic. In fact, other than the part about the lead being a pig, this is a very realistically done movie.

Porco?s troubles don?t end with these particular air pirates though, as the larger federation has brought in an American pilot to deal with him, and the two are definitely more alike than not. Especially in that they both have an affection for a lovely singer who entertains most of the pilots and others in the area in her small island locale. It?s the fight between the American named Curtiss and Porco that eventually causes him to take his already beleaguered plane back to Milan to be fully restored. And it?s along this backdrop that we see the growing tide of fascism taking hold in the country and changing things for the next big movement.

But the movie isn?t really about the times so much as the people living in them and how they cope with it. The movie is also just flat out funny. When Porco and Curtiss are finally in an ?official? competition in the final third of the movie, both their guns jam and they?re reduced to just flinging parts at each other across the sky. Their engagements with their planes are spectacular, but it?s the way the two play off of each other, neither being completely serious and having a knowing wink almost ready to go.

The film is definitely one of Miyazaki?s light films with its bright visual flare and almost cheesy humor at times. Porco is an odd lead, but works well as a chain smoking cranky pig. Miyazaki?s style of animation fits in perfectly with the look of the Mediterranean as envisioned here and at times almost takes on the look of a painting. While it?s not the deepest or most soul shaking film that they?ve put out, it?s definitely one that I love to watch as often as possible, and this disc has finally given me a perfectly beautiful edition. Excellent stuff.

Japanese Language,English Language,French Language,Japanese Subtitles,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Storyboard Movie Version

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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