PORCO ROSSO (KARENAI NO BUTA)
Region 2 (UK) Edition - Reviewed by Andy Davidson
voices of Michael Keaton, David Ogden Stiers, Cary Elwes
Porco Rosso was originally intended
as an in-flight short movie for Japanese airlines. Those familiar with
director Hayao Miyazaki’s work, however, will know that brevity is not
among his many strengths and the final product runs to just over ninety
minutes. Based on the Manga Zassou Note, Hikoutei Jidai (Miscellaneous
Memoranda - The Age of Seaplanes, 1992) which Miyazaki serialized in
Model Graphix, Porco Rosso is perhaps the director’s most
personal film, dealing with loss, humanity’s cruelty to man and Miyazaki’s
enduring love – aeroplanes.
Porco Rosso is a World War I fighter
ace who, sickened by the injustices mankind inflicts on itself, has
decided he no longer wants to be human and instead becomes a pig.
Porco remains a hit with the ladies; he is
honourable and thoroughly heroic; leaping to the aid of those in peril
from a rampaging band of sky pirates. The pirates, in their desire to rid
themselves of Porco, hire Curtis, a rival pilot to dispatch him. The
rivals pit themselves against each other on land and in the air, fighting
for survival and the love of Porco’s childhood sweetheart, Gina.
Porco Rosso is presented as a single
disc release, complete with a quality set of extras and a presentation
style that is thoroughly in keeping with the film itself.
The disc opens with an extremely enticing and respectful (this is “only a
cartoon” remember) title page for The Studio Ghibli Collection before
moving to a simply animated menu showing Porco Rosso flying into
the sunset, accompanied by the beautiful piano score from the film. It’s
completely evocative of the film itself and serves as a lovely scene
setter for what’s to come. The sub menus are static images from the film
Porco Rosso is presented slightly windowboxed, in 1.76:1 aspect ratio, with
anamorphic enhancement. The transfer is generally of an exceptional
quality, with a balanced and rich palette.
The film is presented in both the original Japanese 2.0 and a new American
dub, again 2.0. Like many recent Ghibli dubs, the quality is generally
superb with real actors (including Michael Keaton as the titular pig, Cary
Elwes and David Ogden Stiers) providing a convincing and sensitive
likeness of the original characters.
The optional English subtitles, on the
other hand, are something of a problem appearing, as they do, over the
screen and not below it. Miyazaki has commented on numerous occasions that
he is in favour of dubbing when it comes to his films as he doesn’t want
the subtitles to detract from the viewing of the film itself. In the case
of the subs on Porco Rosso, I’d strongly advise following
Miyazaki’s advice – the subtitles are presented in an extremely
Four original theatrical trailers for Porco Rosso are presented in
their entirety. Optimum have included subtitles for the trailers, which is
a welcome addition. While they’re as distracting as those on the main
film, the viewer at least gets the opportunity to understand what the
characters are saying. The subtitles can be turned off for those wanting
the original Japanese experience.
Original Storyboards (93m)
The complete storyboard for Porco Rosso is available by selecting
the “Angle” button on your remote. This is a wonderful extra, allowing the
viewer to flick between the film and the storyboards at will, adding a
unique insight into the animation process. Optimum should be congratulated
on including the storyboards in this way.
Interview with Toshio Suzuki (3m 30s)
An interview with Studio Ghibli’s Chief Producer, Toshio Suzuki, covers
the rationale behind Porco Rosso and explains why it is so
different to Miyazaki’s other output. It is a fascinating, but at just
three and a half minutes, all too brief insight into the Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli Collection Trailers (10m 45s)
Also included are a selection of trailers for other films in The Studio
Ghibli Collection. These are another welcome inclusion and I hope serve as
a taster for those who are not familiar with the works of Miyazaki,
Takahata and their colleagues. These trailers are of somewhat lower
definition than the remainder of the content on the disc and I can only
assume that they are sourced from the original Japanese NTSC versions.
release from Optimum. Porco Rosso is a touching, sentimental film
and Optimum have presented it in the best possible way. The picture and
sound are superb, the dub is excellent and a most welcome selection of
extras makes this a thoroughly worthwhile purchase. Highly recommended.
The Studio Ghibli Collection
Laputa - Castle in the
DVD reviewed: February 2006