Porco Rosso, a Japanese animated film, came out of the Ghibli Production House way back in 1992, when most of my generation was still learning to walk/talk. For 1992, the animation is bloody damn good. While I was already a big Ghibli fan, this film revived a new found admiration for them.
For anybody who has a Netflix account, that’s where I saw this absurdly beautiful film. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Porco Rosso is about a former World War I pilot who has become a freelance bounty-hunter and for some in-explainable reason – has a pig’s head on a human body.
The plot starts with Porco rescuing a bunch of adorable little Japanese school girls from the clutches of ‘Sea Pirates’. The rest of the story is about how Porco runs into trouble with both the Government and the Sea Pirates who have put a bounty for his head.
What I really loved about this film was a sequence which shows an all women crew, right from a 17-year-old girl to 70+ grannies, repair and refurbish a fighter airplane for our hero. This airplane is all ready for a series of dogfights that Porco would be forced to participate in. It subtly conveys a message of women empowerment.
All that said, Porco Rosso is a visual treat, from the contrasting colors, to beautiful landscape painting like scenes, to some lovely women characters. There is the beautiful mysterious singer Gina, who has lost three husbands to the war, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting a happy ending. There is 17-year-old Fio, a young sprightly girl who wants to build planes and becomes a pawn in a dogfight between Porco and the Pirates.
Well, this animated film has it all – a dash of fantasy, action, drama, romance with a pinch of the absurd. Despite the main protagonist being a walking pig, the makers manage to make the viewer take him seriously and in the end develop affection for the enigmatic hero.