Free «The Pig Is a Dogfight Hero: The Culture behind "Porco Rosso"» Essay Sample

The Pig Is a Dogfight Hero: The Culture behind

Porco Rosso depicts events of 1929 in Adriatic. The main character is a pilot Marco Pagot, who was fighting during the World War I. The cartoon of Japanese origin promotes anti-fascist and anti-combatant philosophy by covering characters with qualities typical for historical analogues or events that took part in Adriatic. Along with some historical retrospection, Rosso’s creator Miyazaki used the names of his colleagues; hence, not all of the characters have relation to aircraft industry. The paper provides analysis of the Porco Rosso cartoon. It maintains the idea that the author presented the problems of social after-war poverty, and how the war changed the role of women.

After the war finished, Marco was disappointed in people. Somehow he got cursed, and partially became a pig. After the fascists gained authority in Italy, Marco started naming himself Porco Rosso. Porco was working for the government; he fought air pirates, who used to rob merchant ships and yachts. Being unable to win a winged pig, the pirate gang Mamayyuto hired another ace. It was an American pilot Curtis that could overcome Porco Rosso. Particularly, Curtis succeeded in his mission, when they were fighting in Savoy. Rosso’s aircraft engine stopped working, so the American knocked him down. Porco survived, but his red plane was seriously damaged. To repair his machine, Rosso called out for his old friend aviator Piccolo. Porco meets Piccolo’s daughter Fio, who, as it turned out, is a talented engineer and aircraft manufacturer. Fio agreed to renovate Rosso’s seaplane so he could fight Curtis. At the end, Porco Rosso wins, Fio’s kiss make him human again, and the pirates give up.

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The story is not as naive as it seems. The cartoon had a specific mission to deliver to the viewers. At first, the producers planned it as a short in-flight picture for Japan Airlines. The company allocated large investments in Porco Rosso cartoon. With the purpose of making the film obviously dedicated to flights, producers offered an original introduction. Thus, the opening text is written in ten languages. However, the “Yugoslavian, Dubrovnik, Croatia armed conflicts”[1] that happened simultaneously with the film broadcast created the strict tone of film for Balkan auditory. The tendency is not occasional, because the cartoon has clear historical and locational parameters, which include the Adriatic Sea east coast between Dalmatian and Kvaerner islands. Moreover, the cartoon events could have been real, especially considering the author’s retrospection to the history of fascism in Italy briefly demonstrated in Porco Rosso.

The central concept of Italian fascism was the appreciation of Italian nation over the interests of other social groups and individuals. All kinds of property and goods belonged to fascist state; hence, political or social organizations and individuals with difference of opinions could not survive. The state united different social interests based on the principles of corporatism: “The Italian people are utterly alienated from their class and other social identities, wiped clean of their roots and histories, should have surrendered their individual and collective characters to the dogmas of their leader.”[2] Additionally, the scene of women helping in the construction of the seaplane, while their husbands work abroad due to unemployment at home shows the challenging economic condition in the country.

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The two central characters of Porco Rosso and Curtis require attention as they form the background of authors’ intentions. As the central deviant peaceful character ironizing the greatness of fascism, Miyazaki’s cartoon hero Rosso was named after Pagot brothers. They were the Italian film directors and authors of the Dynamite Brothers cartoon. Thus, when Miyazaki was working on Sherlock Hound, the sons of his old friend Nino Pagot, Gi and Marco, were his partners. Moreover, Curtis he has a prototype –in the American president Ronald Reagan. In the film, Rosso and pirates call him Yankee, and his image is quite clumsy and comic. At the end, Fio makes ironic remark that he is not the president yet, because in 1930s, the ambition was impossible for him. Miyazaki dedicated the character’s name to Glenn Hammond Curtiss, who is an American aviation pioneer and co-founder of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. When Rosso meets Curtis in Gina’s bar for the first time, he mentions the triumph competition of real Mr. Curtiss. The plane of Miyazaki’s Yankee belonged to Glenn Curtiss: “His Curtiss R3C-2 seaplane racer won the prestigious 1925 Schneider Trophy competition at Baltimore, Maryland, on October 26, 1925.”[1]Both characters also represent competitive relationships between Italy and the USA after the World War I. The condition put a different tone to the small contradictions between Rosso and Curtis.

However, Rosso shows his deviant behavior of a citizen of totalitarian country struggling against the divine leader and fascist politics “I'd rather be a pig than a fascist.”[2] The behavior ruins romanticism of divine leader and the moral state of humanity that was nothing more than fiction. Italian romantic emotion appeared in the conditions of totalitarian force and propaganda about the mission and value the people have even beyond national idea. On the aforementioned background, the image of Porco Rosso becomes significant, because others live for idea, but he lives for himself: “I'm a pig. I do not fight for honor. I fight for a paycheck.”[3] His appearance creates attractive charisma because of anti-fascist sentiments to greater extent. However, Rosso behaves modestly with women; he does not think he is a sexually attractive man deserving the best dive. Because of his modesty, Rosso is popular among women. Fio and Madame Gina see a romantic, strong, and noble man, which is a unique person in the surrounding of old stinky pirates visiting Gina’s show every night. The two women are different, even though at the end of cartoon Fio tells about her friendship with Gina. The final kiss of Fio that turned Porco back into human image is provocative because the cartoon producers go beyond stereotypes about the age difference and female modesty. It is also evident in the scene when Fio took off her clothes and jumped into the water as the bet with Curtis. Importantly, Rosso had never been flirty. On the other hand, Curtis attempted to hook women, but every time it looked clumsy compared to immutable Rosso.

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The images of Madam Gina, Fio, and other women constructing the seaplane create the image that they are strong, courageous, and equal in status to men. Fio is a young woman with an engineering brain, which is evident in the scene when Mr. Piccolo recommends her as an engineer. She is innocent, naïve and has no tragic background yet. However, Gina has an opposite personality. She is a three times widow, whose last husband was missing for few years and his remains were found recently. Gina is a secret agent, as becomes clear from the situation when she got a signal about an attack on island and warned everybody. At the same time, she is a gentle and elegant lady; the men never fight in her bar. She reconciles everyone in a conflict. It is seen especially at the end, as she becomes the central figure propagating peace and compromise that is the goal of the cartoon. The rest of the women perform men’s work, because they have no support. Their versatility is significant considering how valuable their role is.

Thus, Porco Rosso is a Japanese cartoon picture created with the aim to deliver anti-war propaganda and ironize the romantic beliefs around fascism of 20th century. Its creator, Hayao Miyazaki, evaluated historical personalities and own colleagues to name his characters and grant them specific qualities. Simultaneously, the cartoon shows consequences of the blind ambitions of some leaders, who neglect human life. Miyazaki presents consequences of after-war poverty and the universal power of women in career and private life.