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Kurenai No Buta
(Porco Rosso)

Copyright: © 1991 Tokuma Shoten Publishing (Japan)
Length: 110 minutes
Genre: comedy / drama / action
Rating: NR, Parental guidance suggested
Format: Original Japanese dialog (LD/VHS)

Written, directed and produced by Miyazaki Hayao (Studio Ghibli).

[ rated pg ]


Parental Guidance Advised - Small children will be clueless about this movie. Has some harmless air combat scenes, and one very nasty cartoonish fistfight at the end. There is a mystical scene about the nature of death which could prompt some discussion about the way people wonder about death and the hereafter. No nudity or sex, but in a fit of nerves, Fiona suddenly strips to her underwear to go swimming in one scene. Has a few mild curses, and the main character is literally and figuratively a pig -- he's lazy, antisocial, drinks, smokes, flirts, litters, and is basically a scoundrel.

[ plot summary ]

It is a time of peace once again. World War I has ended, and the Adriatic Sea is filled with flyboys from around the world, many of which are trying to recapture the romanticism of flight so many had lost during the war. Italy, with a growing facist movement, is becoming more instant that its residents pledge allegiance. And in it all, is a pig -- and this pig does fly. Porco Rosso, once the human Marco Porcellini, has taken on the task of a mercenary law-enforcer of the skies and oceans, protecting people from pirates. His ultimate challenger exists in the form of one Donald Curtis, the flashy, debonair American flyboy who competes with Marco not only for the skies -- but also for the affections of the lovely Gina, the chanteuse and owner of the Hotel Adrienne. But his greatest contest of all -- far greater than the esteemed Schneider Cup -- is the gentleman's bet, to be settled in the air. At stake is the young, innocent Fio, the designer of Porco's new hydroplane...

[ capsule review ]

This film is a little different from Miyazaki's previous works. He reportedly wanted to make a film for the Japanese salaryman; a piece of pure escapism to let them 'recharge their batteries.' Kurenai no Buta has all your typical Ghibli trademarks -- incredible animation, wonderful directing and a soundtrack that will absolutely mesmerize you. Since this is a such a personal project for Miyazaki, you also get a lot of his trademark scenes of Europe, a strong, young female in a very prominant role, and planes -- lots and lots of planes. There's a lot of light-hearted humour in here as well, which helps offset a rather brutal (but silly) fist-fight in the end. Miyazaki onces again shows that he's a romantic idealist, and once again, there are no real "bad guys." All his avaiators conducted themselves in strict accordance to their own code of ethics, much like bushido. Even the band of air pirates end up having hearts of gold. And therein lies this film's fatal flaw. As technically brilliant as this film may be, I found it to be rather self-indulgent, and I often felt as if I was an outsider looking in. Don't get me wrong -- it's not a difficult movie to understand -- but unlike other Ghibli projects, I felt that I was to stay in a spectator's role.

Even with this one complaint, it's still a wonderful film; remarkably easy to watch. The animations are breathtaking, mechanical designs are painstakingly rendered, and the humour ranges from slapstick (Curtis and Marco throwing things out their planes at each other, a la WWI), to the sublime. I understand that this was the highest grossing anime in Japan before Mononoke Hime smashed all records. Don't forget to watch the video right to the end; there's a bit of an epilogue again. Besides, the "sepia-tone" photographs during the credits are great -- if the pictures look familiar, they should. It looks like Ghibli took actual pictures from the early 1900's, and then re-drew them, putting Marco into the shots. - AN

Kurenai no Buta is both like and unlike Miyazaki's other films. There are elements which are very typical of his previous movies; a willful young female features prominently in this show as in his other works. Unlike his other productions however, there is no earth shattering revelation or message about growing up in this production. The animation is typical Studio Ghibli and is fantastic and the soundtrack is likewise very nice. I found however, that I was identifying musical elements from previous Miyazaki productions, specifically Kaze no Tani no Naüsicaa and Majo no Takkyubin which detracted a bit from enjoying the soundtrack to its fullest. Despite that however, the music is wonderful and sweeps you away. The story itself is quite light, nothing particularly deep, and is very much an escapist work. The wager between Curtis and Marco is... different to say the least. A duel between the two of them in the air which eventually degenerates into a fist fight on shore when they both run out of ammo. There's definitely no real bad guy in this film. A definite escapist work with a simple story, it's fun to watch and there are some humourous bits tossed in throughout the show. I especially liked the bit just after Curtis left Fio for the duel and the whole crowd was on her side in snubbing him. Definitely a cute scene and show. -JYN

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: 3 stars N/A N/A
Direction: 5 stars N/A N/A
Acting: 4 stars N/A N/A
Animation: 5 stars N/A N/A
Music: 5 stars N/A N/A
Translation: N/A N/A N/A
Overall Rating: 4 stars N/A N/A

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