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Exclusive review: Inu-Yasha:
Rumiko Takahashi's (Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, Mermaid Tales) new hit TV series in Japan
  Rating: PG
  U.S. Distribution Rights: Disney
  Genres: Fantasy, Comedy

Porco Rosso (Movie)
Alternate Titles: Crimson Pig, Kurenai no Buta

Description:    Porco Rosso is set on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy in the early 1930s. The main character is a brilliant mercenary pilot called Porco Rosso, "the crimson pig," because he flies a crimson sea-plane and because he has, as the result of a curse, the head of a pig. Porco fights air pirates and ambitious rival mercenaries, and avoids the agents of the Italian Fascist government that he hates.

This story shows Porco's struggle with a gang of air pirates and their mercenary ally, and his relationship , with Fio, the young girl engineer who rebuilds his plane, and with the beautiful widow Gina. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

Overall Grade: 92.5% (A-)

  Reviewer #1: Andrew Kent
  Episodes reviewed: Movie; subtitled
Grade: 95% (A)
   Early air combat was very unlike the antiseptic duels of modern military craft; it was almost a sport of gentlemen, where the mechanical aspects were secondary to the skill, nerve, and daring of a small number of pilots, as they dueled for command of the skies. Miyazaki captures the entire package in a masterful work about an ex-military flying pig in a world of people.

I know, I know, it sounds stupid, right? Somehow, he makes it work. The entire cast of the show is completely deadpan about having a large, rotund porcine pilot in their midst. Of course, it comes up, but not as "how is that pig flying a plane?", in favor of, "Why do you look like a pig?" What would be a cause of whimsy in a Disney animation is an excuse for serious introspection and a nice mood-setting flashback by Porco, in his aviation goggles and smoking a cigar. Note that none of the other cast member are anthropomorphized in any way.

The visuals are beautiful, portraying usually-tranquil Mediterranean scenery in a very simplistic manner, becoming detailed for the designs of the planes, which are very detailed and realistic. This says less than it looks - ALL Miyazaki films are generally stunning - but nevertheless, you will be hard pressed to find better, even in the modern age of computer graphics. Sure, sometimes small things may lack this or that detail, but it is the selection of which details are presented that shows the film's true mastery... the details presented are invariably those most essential to the proper impression.

The plot leans towards a rougher edge than most Miyazaki works. Porco is a bitter and disillusioned man, transformed after flying with the Italians in WWI. Even so, his generally good intentions don't lurk very deep, and he puts up with the young Fio's antics readily. The main tension comes from multiple sources... Porco versus various pirates, Porco versus the American rival Curtis, Porco trying not to let Fio get carried away, trying not to go broke, trying to forget his old friend Gina. The final duel between Porco and Curtis is almost comic, extremely well-animated, and worth watching a few times over.

  Reviewer #2: Clyde Adams III
  Episodes reviewed: Movie; subtitled
Grade: 90% (A-)
   Porco Rosso is a delightful comedy adventure, highly recommended. The production values, scenery, animation, color, music are all outstanding, as is usual for Studio Ghibli. The slapstick comic tone is set early, when the ludicrously named pirate gang, Mamma Aiutto ("Mama Help!") kidnaps a bunch of elementary school girls as hostages. The little girls proceed to create playful chaos throughout the pirates' seaplane.

The pirates continue to amuse with their antics, as does the narcissistic American mercenary Curtis. Even Porco's very brief confrontations with the outclassed Fascist secret police are comical.

The film has a serious underside too, as should be expected of Miyzaki. In one scene, Porco describes to Fio a terrible aerial battle during the war (World War One), in which he and his best friend, Gina's first husband, had fought on the Allied side. After that battle, Porco had seen a vision of his friend and all the other dead pilots in their planes ascending silently into a strange cloud very high up. In my opinion, this was the cause of Porco's curse; he felt unworthy to live as a normal human after so many good men died, and he felt unworthy to be loved as one.

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