Porco Rosso
Studio Ghibli  | Distributor Optimum Asia  | Certificate PG | Price £15 | 

It’s the early 1900s and among the tiny islands of the Adriatic – alive with airborne pirates – flies a daring sea plane pilot with things on his mind. Love honour and money are at stake...

With beautiful animation, a fantastic script and great characters, this is classic Hayao Miyazaki, the man who later directed Howl’s Moving Castle. Untypically for a director, he is primarily an animator, and gives us the kind of production values that could make pretty much anything mesmerising for the 90-minute run time.

This story has been adapted from one of his manga characters, Hikoutei Jidai. Porco himself smokes Gitanes, drinks too much and has a reputation with the ladies. He also has a pig’s head. That said, he’s deeply troubled by something and as the story unfolds we find out exactly what that is.

To keep things ticking along, Porco hooks up with the traditional young, feisty female co-star to form a team who will help our porcine hero win the lovely Gina away from an egotistical American pilot, hired by the local pirates to get rid of their arch enemy.

Dripping with such lines as “I’d rather be a pig than a fascist,” this clearly isn’t a film for children. It is instead a piece of escapist genius, designed to enable intelligent people to relax into a warm and optimistic, though not perfect, world.

Mixing elements of surrealism and early aviation adventure with great aerial dogfights, cartoon violence and romantic island settings, Porco Rosso is enough to make you wish for the kind of curse that would turn you into a pig in a plane.