Porco Rosso isn’t about flying pigs, no, behind all the cartoony surface lies the touching sadness of a lost past and a yearning hope for a better future, straight from Miyazaki’s heart. The title character is a grumpy pig who flies a World War I era plane between the two world wars. Once human, Porco has adopted an air of disinterested apathy to cover his feelings, but he finds himself drawn to a group of people in Italy after his plane is shot down by a rival pilot. Porco has something in his past that makes it difficult for him to feel fully human and integrated with others. This film explores those plotlines and open up a world filled with wonder and delight.
I think personally that a film which gives the viewer a little nudge in the direction of the fate of the characters but leaves the imagination to flesh it out is a good film. The ending is abrupt and the character of Porco is deliberately distant. He considers himself to be essentially worthless to the world, and nothing more than a coward for thinking of himself at a time when his friends were in need. The movie was so enjoyable because it honored good character. The “right” things happened. The honorable characters succeeded. The good guy wins. Yet there is not a hint of formula in the movie.
The tension arc throught the film is wonderfully well thought out. It starts on a high note, slightly silly, then settles into a stylish, melancholy and surreal vibe that lasts for a good half of the film. This is a film that is deeply humanistic yet never overly sappy and emotional. Hayao Miyazaki’s Porco Rosso is a fantastic animated journey that also makes a strong political statement. The film entertains young and old, but also leaves a lot for the audience to ponder while the magnificent animation transcends into the mind through vibrant colors and detailed lines.
As for flaws, there aren’t very many. Sure you don’t really know why Porco is a pig in the first place and the American pilot acts very stupid, but these are minor problems that don’t really bring this movie down a whole lot. Porco Rosso is a treat for aviation buffs dreaming of the barnstorming days. But occasional shifts in the plot feel more obtrusive than interesting, and consequently, I didn’t find this movie as memorable as Miyazaki’s other work. All in all, this movie was very enjoyable and revisitng this film just made me appreciate anime films all over again.