Region 2 (UK) Edition  -  Reviewed by Andy Davidson

DirectorHayao Miyazaki

Featuring the 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 itself.

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 distracting way.


Trailers (8m 03s)
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 production process.

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.


Another solid 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.

Related reviews:

The Studio Ghibli Collection

Laputa - Castle in the Sky

Kiki's Delivery Service

My Neighbour Totoro

Pom Poko

Porco Rosso

DVD reviewed: February 2006






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