Porco Rosso - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Optimum Asia
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 93
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series:

Porco Rosso

By Dani Moure     February 02, 2006
Release Date: January 31, 2006

Porco Rosso
© Optimum Asia

What They Say
Take flight with Porco Rosso. From tropical Adriatic settings to dazzling aerial manoeuvres, this action-adventure from the world-renowned animator, Hayao Miyazaki, is full of humour, courage and chivalry.

When "Marco" - whose face has been transformed into that of a pig by a mysterious spell - infuriates a band of sky pirates with his aerial heroics, the pirates hire Curtis, a renowned pilot with aspirations of Hollywood, to down him in aerial combat. On the ground, the two pilots compete for the affections of the beauty of the Adriatic, Gina. But it is in the air where the true battles are waged. Will our hero be victorious?

This is one of Miyazaki's most striking works. With a beautiful score from long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi, and incredible dog-fighting action, Porco Rosso is one of those rare animated films that truly transcends the medium; particularly with the much-feted Cloud prairie scene.

The Review!
The latest Ghibli film to get a UK release is a different beast altogether when compared to the others, but it is more than enjoyable in its own right.

For my review I watched the film with the English stereo track. I noticed no dropouts or distortions on either this track or when spot-checking the Japanese track. The English dub from Disney is, as has become pretty standard, excellent and (having not heard the Japanese voices a great deal) I thought the casting was really good; everyone seemed to fit their roles really well.

Again, much like the other Ghibli films, the print is in excellent condition. I noticed no aliasing or other artefacts while watching, and unlike a couple of other Ghibli films there were no compression issues that I noticed either.

The subtitles on this disc are in a clear, yellow font and we get both hard of hearing subtitles and a literal translation to accompany the Japanese track.

No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

The menu system, is fairly simple. The main menu has the logo at the top with the selections running across the centre, over a still image from the film with a piece from the soundtrack playing. All the sub-menus are static images with no music playing. Access times are naturally quite fast, but it does feel like Madman haven’t put a great deal of effort into the menus.

There’s a nice selection of extras to go along with the movie. First is an alternate angle for the whole film featuring the original storyboards. While I’d find it a bit of a chore watching the whole film like this, it’s nice to see the original vision for some of your favourite scenes. There’s also a nice little interview with Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, and the original trailer for the film.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Every Ghibli film has its own theme that plays out as it draws on, but while the likes of Kiki’s Delivery Service is about growing up and Princess Mononoke was about what mankind is doing to the environment, Porco Rosso has the theme of flying. It seems a strange choice, and to be honest I really didn’t think I’d like the movie that much. Once it got going though, it was very enjoyable and I came away with a far better impression than I’d expected. But then, I shouldn’t realistically have expected much less from the one and only Hayao Miyazaki.

Silly though it sounds, Porco is a pig. He was once a man called Marco Porcellini, but was cursed and given the form of a pig, which he believes is his punishment for his actions during World War I. Nowadays, he flies a plane as a bounty hunter going after so-called pirates, who also do things in the sky. Obviously with a reputation such as his, the pirates don’t like him but many do respect his flying abilities. Porco’s eating at his friend Gina’s café, everyone’s favourite hang out that is strictly a no-fight, relaxation only zone, where he meets his nemesis, the cocky, annoying American pilot Curtis. Curtis is working with several groups of pirates to try and make a name for himself, and he is also competing for Gina’s affections, though Gina’s feelings lay elsewhere.

Porco returns to Milan where he is a wanted man, to spruce up his plane. There, one of his friends’ granddaughters, Fio, designs the modifications and ends up coming along with him (under the guise of a hostage so she won’t be in trouble with the authorities) as he returns to his island home. Only several pirates have found where he lives, and are out for revenge for all the times Porco has foiled their plans. Naturally, Curtis makes an appearance, and so begins a challenge between man and pig…

One of the most obvious traits of Porco Rosso didn’t really hit me until after watching the film and reflecting back on it, and that’s just how much of a “manly” movie this really is. It may sound strange, but with its different themes and the way the story leads up to the battle between Porco and Marco, it’s just oozing testosterone and it’s a real fight between two macho men who both want some of the same things.

Another thing that strikes you about the film is that the story doesn’t really amount to a great deal, and nothing major happens. There’s no great, epic plot like a lot of anime movies (and indeed, Ghibli films), and yet it doesn’t really matter a great deal. In fact, that’s partly the point. Porco Rosso is really all about exploring the characters and how they feel about the world, and of course their love of flying. When watching it’d be hard not to notice the amount of sheer love and passion that’s gone in to every last detail of the flying sequences, as every time someone’s in the air you can’t help but get sucked in and feel like you are in the air experiencing it all with them. The animation is simply breathtaking at times.

The characters and the love story also match the lighter tone, but provide a really strong backbone to the film. Porco’s not exactly the most likeable of characters in many ways, sometimes acting like a bit of a grumpy old man and very jaded, and yet for all his traits you can’t help but root from him. His sarcastic sense of humour and some great comedic timing help make him amusing to watch, but really he’s something of an anti-hero and yet perfect as the lead in this movie. After all, he is a bounty hunter that goes and shoots down pirates. He’s involved with some pretty dodgy people and on the run from the law. Perhaps that’s the reason he’s also a pig, since he’s portrayed as such a lot of the time The actual reasons from a story perspective are only hinted at during the movie, but I think the point is that it’s meant more as a metaphor for his personality than anything else.

The rest of the characters also complement the story really well. Curtis is very stereotypical in his antics being Porco’s nemesis, yet the things he says and the way he acts are just so hilarious you can’t help but be on Porco’s side, rooting for him to take the American down. Fio is a great little companion, whose love of flying really comes across when she joins Porco. She’s also great with her powers of persuasion when it comes to crunch time! Gina is your typical leading lady, loved by all the men but the one who has her affections doesn’t follow through on it.

In Summary:
Porco Rosso is a nice, light-hearted film that’s so charming it’s hard not to enjoy. Though it’s a bit light on story it more than makes up for it with a great cast of characters and a real passion about flying. The animation is excellent, and the score from Joe Hisaishi fits the film perfectly. While I don’t think it’s the greatest film in the Ghibli library, is highly enjoyable in its own right and deserves a place in anyone’s collection.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Alternate Angle Storyboards for the Entire Film,Original Trailers,Interview with Studio Ghibli Producer Toshio Suzuki

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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