Welcome to the Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022! This year’s theme (in case you missed the announcement post) are featuring films released in a year ending with -2. The choices coming up from ourselves and our guests span more than a century much to surprise and there are lots of fantastic posts to come up.
With that said, today is the first of two kick-off posts for the blogathon as I start off with my first choice and my awesome co-host Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews will share his first pick for part 2 of the kick-off over on his blog.
To start things off this year, I decided to check out a fan favorite from Studio Ghibli which really doesn’t get talked about enough but my friends over at Asian Cinema Film Club did rank it as their Top 150 Best Asian Films of All Time. The film is 1992’s Porco Rosso, a film about a bounty hunter pig, seaplanes, and some romance and pirates.
Porco Rosso (1992)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
English Voice Cast: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Kimberley Williams-Paisley, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers, Tom Kenny
In 1930s Italy, a veteran World War I pilot is cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig. – IMDB
Based on a 1989 three-part watercolor manga by Miyazaki called The Age of the Flying Boat, Porco Rosso is a colorful adventure where a war veteran turned freelance bounty hunter uses his one of a kind seaplane to hunt down airborne pirates. Living on a deserted island alone, stopping to visit his friend Madame Gina, the owner and beautiful singer of her club, and waiting for his next bounty call, Porco Rosso lives away from humans because he has lost hope in them under the curse of being turned into a pig. When his seaplane is shot down by the American ace Donald Curtis following his engine failure and claiming that he has killed him, Porco goes to get his seaplane fixed in Milan, where he has an arrest warrant on his head, where his old engineer send his young niece Fio to redesign the whole plane and ends up embarking on the journey afterwards as Porco heads off to face up against Curtis.
While Porco Rosso might not have quite the nostalgia for myself as other Miyazaki films like My Neighbor Totoro or Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso is a fun adventure. It doesn’t only focus on pirates and seaplanes but also tells a story about Porco Rosso finding a bit of his humanity back by finding back a bit of the lost hope he had for it which turned him into a pig. The film itself remains mostly light-hearted as the characters all have mostly comedic interactions, mostly from the silliness of the whole situation whether its between the pirates and Porco or Porco and Fio and the whole Milan crew. It brings in some elements of those times when women weren’t regarded to be much more than being at home but in this one, his whole crew ends up being female relatives of the repair shop owner. The bickering between Porco and Fio also ends up being rather funny as Fio’s naivety also makes her someone not afraid to stand up for herself and Porco in the face of equality and such. It all dials down to a final fight between Porco Rosso and Curtis which ends up taking a hilarious turn when the two both encounter issues in terms of weaponry.
There are some familiarities in this Miyazaki films whether inspiring some of his later works or from prior to that. Perhaps this is a project that shared the love of Miyazaki for planes which eventually leads to his last film, The Wind Rises before announcing his retirement (which obviously now is not happening since he has a new film in the works) or the concept of the cursed character much like Howl’s Moving Castle’s main character who also has a moment of reversing back to her original form for a second in the middle of the night. However, this is one of the few films that Miyazaki does leave a fairly open sort of ending. While there are little hints as to what does happen to the people whether its Porco Rosso and Gina’s relationship or whether Fio’s hopeful personality does transform Porco Rosso back to a man when he was known as Marco, the ending does leave those bits hidden from the camera, which is a fun little bit for the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Overall, Porco Rosso is a pretty fun film. It isn’t as dramatic as some of the other Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki films but switches over to a fairly unique setting post-war and with seaplanes and pirates with some happy and colorful characters. The film sets its tone fairly early in the film and keeps up with it building from that point on. Its pretty impressive for a film that was once supposed to be a short film funded by Japan Airlines which eventually got a full length theatrical release. After Disney’s distribution, Porco Rosso also got a rather impressive English voice cast including Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Kimberley Williams-Paisley and Susan Egan in the main roles. While not wildly discussed like some of Miyazaki’s other works, Porco Rosso is one that is a light and fun adventure well worth a visit.
Remember to head over to check out Drew’s kick-off review for the blogathon tomorrow!
All films will be updated daily on the Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022 page HERE. Be sure to check it out to not miss out any of the awesome guests posts coming up!