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Anime / Porco Rosso

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"A pig's gotta fly."

This motion picture is set over the Mediterranean Sea in an age when seaplanes ruled the waves.
It tells a story of a valiant pig, who fought against flying pirates, for his pride, for his lover, and for his fortune.
The name of the hero of our story is Crimson Pig.
Opening text.

Hayao Miyazaki's homage to the early days of aviation and cinema, the 1992 film Porco Rosso (Japanese: 紅の豚 Kurenai no Buta, "Crimson Pig") tells the story of a renowned Italian fighter pilot, a veteran of the World War I who has been mysteriously transformed into a pig.

As The Roaring '20s fade into The Great Depression, Porco Rosso (Shūichirō Moriyama; Michael Keaton in the English dub), the "Crimson Pig", makes his living as a mercenary, flying a red seaplane and doing battle with pirates. Things really start to get interesting for Porco when the pirates, tired of having their butts handed to them by a pig, hire Donald Curtis (Akio Ōtsuka; Cary Elwes), a famed American aviator, to take him down. Pursued by the Fascist military which he deserted years ago, Porco gains a teenage sidekick, Fio Piccolo (Akemi Okamura; Kimberly Williams-Paisley), and takes the fight to the pirates. What follows is an epic journey of self-discovery and general badassery in the great Ghibli tradition. It's got all the hallmarks of a Miyazaki movie; strong women, flying machines, air-pirates and an undertone of the supernatural.

Like a few of Miyazaki's other works, the film is based on an earlier manga he wrote.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Porco was called the "Ace of the Adriatic" and Curtis is also known for his prowess in combat flying.
  • Acoustic License: Mostly averted — generally, people communicate plane-to-plane via signal lights using Morse code, as they did in real life, and Piccolo installs a rudimentary voice tube in Porco's rebuilt plane to allow him to communicate with Fio. Porco and Curtis do shout at each other plane-to-plane during their final duel, but as they're linking speech and action they don't necessarily have to hear each other to get the meaning.
  • Affably Evil: Curtis, and even "evil" is debatable; he's more of just The Rival to Porco as a pilot and for Gina's affections.
  • Alternate History: Seems to be at play here, as the majority of the film appears to be set in a fictional analogue to the short-lived Free State of Fiume (now Rieka, Croatia) shortly before its annexation by Fascist Italy. They appear to give refuge to Porco and seemingly grant huge leeway to air piracy (to the extent that it is viewed as entertainment), have a blue-yellow-blue tricolour for a civil ensign, their Fascist movement has a love for green and purple, and they have a lizard in a military uniform on their money.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Porco vanishes without a trace during the pursuit from the Air Force, leaving the other characters to wonder what has become of him. It's also never made clear whether he and Gina reconnected (Fio seems to know the answer, but decides to keep it as a secret).
  • Animorphism: Ace fighter pilot Marco Pagot returns from an air battle with the face of a pig and becomes known as Porco Rosso (the Red Pig).
  • Arms Dealer: Porco purchases ammo from one; both comment that their illegal enterprises (bounty hunting and arms dealing) will be largely unaffected by an upcoming change in government. But there's No Honor Among Thieves as the ammo cartridges are defective (a common problem in that era) and causes his gun to jam at a crucial moment.
  • Art Shift: When Porco and Fierrali are watching a cartoon in the cinema, it's shown in an appropriate 1920s animation style.
  • A-Team Firing: Lots of bullets are fired, but no people (or pigs) are ever hit. Invoked for Porco whom Boss says won't shoot a fellow pilot in a dog-fight, but with all of the lead in the air you'd expect someone to get hit if only by accident. This is due to Japan Airlines co-producing the film.
    • Averted in the World War One flashback. You see a lot of planes go down in flames there, with no implication that the pilots survived.
    • Porco actually only loads 5 rounds each into his machine guns because he thinks pirate hunting is not war.
  • Author Appeal: Miyazaki loves Italy, pigs, strong female characters, and aviation (see Meaningful Name).
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Porco's plane is literally one of a kind. The manufacturers never built more than one because it proved to be too unwieldy for anyone but a true Ace Pilot to handle. It has difficulty with takeoff and landing, but once it hits top speed it's second to none.
  • Beast and Beauty: Porco is a Pig Man who has two beautiful ladies interested in him.
  • Betty and Veronica: Fio, the youthful and ambitious mechanic with a crush on Porco, is obviously the Betty, while Gina, Glamorous Wartime Singer and wealthy landowner, is just as plainly the Veronica. Porco is the straightforward Archie, while Curtis is his rival for both.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Porco Rosso means, of course, Red Pig in Italian.
    • Whoever wrote the headlines on the "Giornale del mare" newspaper did not have full knowledge of Italian, but they're clearly understandable by speakers of the language - and few others, as they aren't translated. It means "Sea Newspaper," or "Newspaper of the Sea."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Pretty much all of the characters get a happy ending except for Porco himself, who disappears after facing off against the Italian Air Force. However, it's hinted by Fio that Porco is living in hiding, having reverted back into his original, and more anonymous human form, and he and Gina might finally get together.
  • Brick Joke: At the duel with Curtis, after Curtis runs out of ammo, Porco lines up a shot to shoot Curtis down, but his one gun jams, and didn't have a back up because he told Fio to get rid of the other to make room for her when they escaped from Piccolo's workshop. Although the other gun would've probably also jammed due to having been sold rusty ammunition by that Arms Dealer in Milan.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: In this case, bags of money. It is strongly implied that the local currency is hyper-inflated.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Porco's second duel with Curtis reveals that Gina never actually told Porco she had feelings for him, at least not explicitly, since the revelation from Curtis that Gina loves Porco hits him by surprise and he initially believes Curtis is just lying to distract him.
  • Cartwright Curse: Gina has married - and been left a widow by - three seaplane pilots.
  • Catchphrase: "That can't be good" in the English dub; "A pig's gotta fly" in the original.
  • The Chanteuse: Gina. She sings a French song to the hotel patrons in her opening scene, wearing the requisite skinny evening gown, and it's revealed in the next scene with Porco that she's a widow three times over, with all of her husbands being pilots.
  • Combat Breakdown: In Porco and Curtis' rematch, the dogfight eventually peters out because Curtis used up all of his ammo and Porco's gun jammed. Curtis tries to shoot Porco with a pistol and then he and Porco start throwing random things at each other. Eventually the two land and get into a fistfight, which the sky pirates turn into a semi-official boxing match with rounds and a referee. After six rounds of boxing, the two are so exhausted and bruised that they don't even try to dodge each other and just trade blow after blow.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Porco tells Fio he's a known womanizer who lives on a small island in a tent. Her response? "That's OK, I like camping."
  • Cool Plane:
    • Porco's Savoia S-21 is one of the most beautiful planes on film, and Curtis' Curtiss R3C-2 is based on the airplane that Jimmy Doolittle flew to win the 1925 Schneider Cup.
    • Averted by the Sky Pirates' motley collection of flying contraptions, though those are all caricatures of genuine aircraft as well.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Curtis may be an idiot but he's a damn good pilot and he's no slouch when it comes to knock down drag out fist fights (it's established early on that Curtis is a lot stronger than he looks and manages to catch Porco off guard in their climactic fist fight - he even lands more on-screen blows on Porco than Porco does on him).
  • Cynic–Idealist Duo: Gina and Fio, respectively. Gina, who's known Porco since they were kids, is numb to the pain of being thrice-widowed, and not only does she tolerate crime, her Cafe Adriano is a place of comfort and hospitality for air pirates where they can relax beyond the reach of the law. Fio, who is meanwhile only just a woman herself, is ambitious and filled with admiration for the glories and stories related to her by her grandfather; her presence and forceful innocence lead her to constantly challenge Porco and the pirates to be better than they are, and they all find her quite inspiring in turn.
  • Day of the Jackboot: When Porco returns to Milan, we see that Benito Mussolini's regime is in power, and their iconography is all over the place. This presumably is why Porco went AWOL from the air force and fled the country.
    I'd rather be a pig than a fascist.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • A man in his mid-thirties being with a seventeen year old may seem weird to modern viewers, but it's accurate for the time period. Before women entered the workforce in World War II out of necessity and stayed working afterwards, it made sense for girls to marry older men. Since they couldn't work, it offered them financial stability they wouldn't find in a man their own age. With the high child mortality rate, the earlier you started having kids, the better you chance you had at having kids who'd make it to adulthood, and since your husband is financially stable, you don't have to wait to start having them. That being said, Porco never tries a thing with Fio, which could lead a modern viewer to believe that Fio has a mostly innocent and one-sided Precocious Crush.
    • Porco also has a somewhat backward view of women's role in society, freely admitting that he doesn't want a female mechanic working on his plane. He gets over it when he sees how good Fio is at her job while drawing up schematics, and gets increasingly more impressed from there. He also has concern for Piccolo's female relatives working on rebuilding his plane.
  • Diesel Punk: Downplayed. Themes of technology and engineering are given a fairly central role, although you wouldn't call it a science fiction movie. Most of the planes have a very dieselpunk aesthetic, being cartoony interpretations of (mostly) real airplane models from the interwar period.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Maybe. The ending leaves it deliberately ambiguous whether Porco and Gina finally get together.
  • Double Take: In the ending, Curtis gives one looking up at Porco, whose face is hidden. It's strongly hinted that he saw Marco's human face - perhaps as a brief glimpse, like Fio did the night before, or perhaps the curse has been lifted altogether.
  • Eagle Land: Curtis, who shifts from Flavor 1 to Flavor 2 depending upon how high his hormones are running at the moment.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Curtis—pointedly known as "The American"—and his well-meaning but ham-handed attempt to curtail some rudeness. When a couple of loudmouth reporters try to interview Porco in the middle of Gina's song, Curtis walks over, hoists them into the air, carries them away, and then slams them down at another table with a parting warning to shut up, inadvertently causing a much larger scene than the one he was trying to prevent.
    • Porco's first scene has him lazing by the beach in his private lagoon, all alone. When he gets a call about the schoolgirls in distress, his primary concern is about how much money he's getting paid.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Sky Pirates, despite being pirates, are actually a pretty honorable lot. Even though they take an entire class of little girls hostage, they don't do anything to hurt them and actually take the entire class because they're concerned about splitting them up; they even keep their language clean while they have them aboard. They are also easily shamed out of murdering Porco by Fio, who appeals to their sense of honor.
  • The Exile: Porco is a wanted man in Italy, which is why he lives on a small island in the Adriatic and only returns to his home country if he needs airplane maintenance he can't get done locally. Given that he was told that his numerous alleged crimes would be forgiven if he re-enlists, his real crime appears to be refusing to support Italy's post-WWI fascist government.
  • Expy: Curtis' appearance, flying skills and Texas origin are a clear homage to aviation pioneer and filmmaker Howard Hughes. It should be mentioned that, in the original Japanese-language version, Curtis says he's from Kentucky rather than Texas. Possibly the change was to make the "Cowboy" moniker make more sense, as Kentucky, while it is known for horses, has never been known for cowboys.
    • Curtis' desire to become an actor and then the President is likely a reference to Ronald Reagan.
    • The Pirate Boss looks a lot like Bluto from Popeye.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the epilogue, you can briefly see a red seaplane that resembles Porco's docked at Gina's hotel, heavily implying that he and Gina got together after all.
  • Friend on the Force: Ferrarin, a pilot with the Italian Air Force, who warns Porco that they're coming for him.
  • Gang of Hats: Each pirate crew has a design scheme built in imitation of the gang's boss. Among these, the Mamma Aiuto gang has the most diversity in design.
  • Genius Bruiser: The Mamma Aiuto boss is a mild case. Not exactly a genius, but surprisingly enlightened nonetheless.
  • Ghibli Hills: Shown passing under Porco's plane as he and Fio escape Italy. Fittingly, it's one of the most beautifully-animated sequences in the film.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Gina, who owns the Hotel Adriano. Technically the film is set before the war, but still.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: What the epic air fight between Porco and Curtis boils down to after both their guns fail.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Most of the pirate bosses have nasty-looking facial scars.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Not as much as you'd think, though the hero's name means "red pig" in Italian. This is also the meaning of the Japanese title.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang / Harmless Villains: The Mamma Aiuto gang and the various other sky pirate crews.
  • Heart Is Where the Home Is: Gina (Italian) is being pursued by Curtis (American), who wants to take her away to be a movie star with him, which only seems to just amuse her. She's had a thing for the title character, who is Italian too, for years.
  • Historical In-Joke: Curtis, the American pilot who won the Schneider Cup before the events of the film, is named after the Curtiss R3C-2, the Real Life Cool Plane that won the Schneider Trophy in 1925. In the film, Curtis actually flies the Curtiss.
  • Homage: Porco's vision of a great procession of dead war pilots ascending to heaven in their planes was inspired by a Roald Dahl short story, incidentally providing a Genius Bonus for those who know Dahl himself was an Adriatic fighter pilot in WWII.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Porco generally refuses to kill the pilots he fights, which is indicated to be a tactic for keeping in business by ensuring there are still pirates left to pirate. During the Final Battle, however, the boss of the Mamma Aiuto gang correctly surmises that Porco refuses to risk a pilot's life and instead plans to win by tiring Curtis out and shooting up the latter's engine, which he takes to be a matter of showing off, but the film implies his refusal to kill Curtis or the pirates is a shred of honor.
    • The boss of the Mamma Aiuto gang takes the time to officially conclude the proceedings of the duel despite everyone panicking and fleeing the oncoming Italian authorities.
    Boss: I'm trying to be classy, you idiot!
  • Hot-Blooded: Curtis is a young hotshot who sometimes acts like a big kid.
  • I Work Alone: Porco is determined to remain solitary and, if he had a say in the matter, wouldn't have Fio along at all. Shame he doesn't have a say. He ends up foisting her on Gina after his Final Battle with Curtis, much to both Gina's and Fio's displeasure.
  • Impressed by the Civilian: Fio manages to earn the respect and admiration of the Sea-Plane pirates after not backing down and refusing to allow them to smash the plane she'd rebuilt.
  • In a Single Bound: Curtis after revealing himself in Porco's hideout ready for the rematch Fio set up. He jumps off the cliff, does a front flip, and sticks the landing. True, he climbed about halfway down the cliff first, but it's still a good 30 feet.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The sky pirates, and the Mamma Aiuto gang in particular. The scene of them holding the schoolgirls hostage at the beginning clearly establishes them as essentially harmless, given how polite they are to the kids and how careful they are about their safety.
  • In Love with Love/Meet Cute: Curtis, who proposes to Gina and Fio upon meeting them at different points of the film. Gina quickly refuses him in favor of Porco, while Fio's hand in marriage is set up as Curtis's prize during a duel between Porco and Curtis. In their fistfight, Porco even points out that Curtis falls in "deep, passionate" love with every pretty girl he meets.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Porco constantly thinks of himself, but also has a sense of honor. He shoots down planes for a living, yet refuses to kill a pilot.
  • Just Plane Wrong: Porco's plane is identified as a Savoia S-21, a Real Life plane that was the flying equivalent of The Alleged Car—difficult and unforgiving to fly, to the point that only one pilot ever had any success with it. While this is accurate to the story (albeit with Porco's plane being framed as Difficult, but Awesome), the design of Porco's plane better resembles the Macchi M.33, which competed against the Curtiss R3C.2 for the 1925 Schneider Trophy.
  • Kavorka Man: Porco, who by his own admission is a "pig" both figuratively and literally who's also a womanizer and self-serving bounty hunter, manages to attract scores of women, notably Gina and Fio who's smitten with him on sight. A combination of being a famous former war hero pilot and his overall noble nature plays into his attractiveness.
  • Little Stowaway: Fio on Porco's plane. She claims she needs to go with him to ensure it runs properly after the rebuild—and pretending to be his hostage may prevent the secret police from arresting her family.
  • Love Triangle: Porco's relationships with both Gina and Fio have romantic elements in them. In Fio's case it's clearly more of a Precocious Crush, since he clearly sees her as far too young for him and at the end she has clearly accepted that it's not going to happen. The main obstacle in Porco's relationship with Gina seems to be his own self-hatred, and the movie pointedly refuses to tell us if this is ever resolved.
  • Magical Realism: Porco is magically transformed into a pig, but how and why is never explained, though he has a theory for the 'why' part. The rest of the film is relatively realistic, with no other fantasy elements.
  • The Mafia: The pirates are all gun-toting Italians. They're reluctant to hire Curtis, an American, as it would be "embarrassing" until one of them reveals that Curtis has an Italian ancestor.
  • Manchild:
    • Curtis is this in a number of scenes, with a little bit of Serial Romeo thrown in for good measure. This is most obvious in his tendency to become hopelessly infatuated with every woman he meets, even, creepily enough, the underage Fio (though to be fair, she's crushing on Porco, who is obviously older than him).
    • The various pirates in the film have a bit of this as well, with their rivalry with Porco bordering on childish. One could even argue that Porco's inability to deal with his survivor's guilt makes him one as well.
  • Maybe Ever After: The ending leaves it unclear whether Porco ever reunited with Gina. Fio knows the answer, but decides to keep it a secret.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's not very clear whether Porco's vision of seeing his shot down squadron flying up into the afterlife was a genuine supernatural experience, or simply a stress induced hallucination from surviving that particular battle.
  • Meaningful Name: A lot of the characters' names are sly references to early aviation:
    • Gina is named after the G-91R aircraft's nickname, manufactured by FIAT. The series it belongs to? "Ghibli", which is where Studio Ghibli's name comes from.
    • Gina's first husband, Bellini, is named for an Italian pilot who died in an attempt to set a flight speed record.
    • Ferrarin, Porco's Friend on the Force, is named after Arturo Ferrarin, one of the pioneers of aviation, who flew from Rome to Tokyo in 1920.
    • Curtis is probably named after Glenn Hammond Curtiss, an important American pilot and - working with the Wright Brothers - airplane manufacturer. Fittingly, the plane Curtis flies in the movie appears to be a Curtiss R 3 C.
  • My Greatest Failure: A battle in which Porco survived when the rest of his squad didn't. It was only by happenstance and skill that he survived, and he retreated only after all the others had been shot down, but he still calls himself a coward.
  • No Endor Holocaust: The duel ends up bringing both planes above a crowd, and neither Porco nor Curtis apparently see a problem with maintaining the fight over an area packed with innocent spectators. Tons of property damage and panicked running ensues, but somehow the stray gunfire only hits inanimate objects.
  • No Place for Me There: Porco seems to feel this way about human society due to his survivors guilt and his curse. He does live alone on an island after all.
  • Nominal Importance: The Mamma Aiuto gang is the only pirate gang to be named and also has the most characterization among the pirates.
  • Oblivious to Love: Porco does not appear to be aware of the fact that Gina is in love with him. It takes Curtis painfully beating it into him—followed by a comment from Gina herself—for it to stick. Sort of.
  • Pig Man: Porco, obviously, as a result of his curse.
  • Plucky Girl: Fio, despite being told to stay out of things because she's a young woman, still manages to help out Porco and stand up to all of the pirates who ambushed them on Porco's island.
  • Politically Correct Villain: Surprisingly enough. While the seaplane pilots all share in a general air of male chauvinism, the Mamma Aiuto gang's boss doesn't participate. When the collected pirates are all stunned by Fio's presence, he keeps his head.
    Boss: So what? Half of the world's population is women, idiot!
    • After Fio gives a speech Shaming the Mob, the rest of the pirates come around to this attitude as well.
  • The Power of Love: What inspires Porco to get up and win the fight, and may be what turns him back into a man, though it could also perhaps be Porco just letting go of his cynicism.
  • Precocious Crush: 17-year-old Fio having a crush on the more middle-aged Porco. Porco says that he was 17 in 1910, and the magazine he's reading in the beginning gives the date as 1929, which would make him about 36.
  • Pun-Based Title, Porco Rosso, or the red pig, is a pun on the Red Baron.
  • Reused Character Design:
    • Fio looks very similar to Nausicaa from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, another Ghibli movie; Miyazaki has a tendency to recycle character models. Made even more humorous when you realize Fio doesn't kill an insect but peacefully convinces it to fly away in one scene.
    • The pirate with an eyepatch closely resembles Count Cagliostro.
  • Repeat After Me: A radio announcer relays a message from the pirates to Porco well as the sounds of their bickering after they fall over on top of each other.note 
    Announcer: Repeat; "we're coming for you, Porco Rosso, ow, ack, argh, get off me!"
  • Riddle for the Ages: Did Porco eventually come to Gina's garden and confess his love for her? Fio seems to know the answer, but she says it's not up to her to reveal it. During the final montage, you can see his red plane floating outside the hotel, though.
  • The Roaring '20s: Everywhere from Gina's flapper outfits to the plane designs.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • During one of his visits to Italy, Porco is confronted by an old friend (still serving in the Air Force) while watching a cartoon in a darkened movie theater. The cartoon depicts a Mickey Mouse Expy striving to save his girlfriend from a villainous pig in an airplane. The obvious metaphor is that the cartoon pig represents Porco himself (his noble but simplistic friend Ferrarin obtusely mentions at one point that he thinks "This movie's really great"), but beyond the movie being outright anti-Porco propaganda is the subtle fact that Porco himself has gone to see it, which in the light of his own self-disdain transforms the propaganda into a reflection of how Porco sees himself — an ugly, bloated fiend who doesn't deserve a happy ending.
      Porco: *chuckles*
      Ferrarin: What's so funny?
      Porco: *leaving the theater* This movie stinks.
    • When Porco's sunglasses get partially broken at the end, the left rim takes on the shape of a heart as Curtis informs him that Gina loves him.
  • Shaming the Mob:
    • Fio delivers an absolutely classic example to the pirate gang by appealing to their sense of honour.
    • Downplayed with Gina, whose mere presence is enough to cow and restrain the air pirates' grumbling about "the pig".
  • Shout-Out:
    • The new engine Piccolo installs in Porco's plane has "GHIBLI" embossed in the valve covers.
    • The main character's real name is Marco Pagot, the Italian original author of the Sherlock Hound anime on which Miyazaki worked before he started Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki enjoyed this work tremendously and paid homage to Mr. and Mrs. Pagot this way.
    • The vision of the afterlife has been compared to A Matter of Life and Death.
  • Shown Their Work: Even more than usual for Miyazaki.
    • All the planes are absolutely correct (though the Pirates' are exaggerated) down to the fascist axe symbols.
    • The new engine for Porco's plane is a period-appropriate Rolls-Royce Peregrine.
    • Porco's WWI Italian Air Corps uniform is accurate.
    • All named Italian pilots are real people who flew with the Italian Air Force (though some of them were dead by the time the movie is supposed to be set).
    • Porco pulls what can be best described as a stall turn to get behind Curtis in their air duel.
    • The night before the big dogfight, Porco is seen manually inspecting and polishing the machine gun rounds he bought. This was something some WWI fighter pilots actually did - tolerances on the machines that made the bullets weren't very good back then, so they had to make sure that the rounds they loaded into their guns would fire cleanly and not jam.
    • However, they did misspell a few words in Italian.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Fio and Gina see past Porco's rough traits and love him as a good person.
  • Sky Pirate: Of the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain varieties.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Averted; Curtis initially seems to be this kind of character, but he's almost as good as he thinks he is (not quite that good though) and isn't quite the jerk he initially appears to be.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Downplayed. Out of their respect and adoration of Fio, the Mamma Aiuto gang hosts the big fight between Porco and Curtis while putting on the ritz as best they can, which means Boss in a gaudy pinstriped suit. Despite his best efforts, he still struggles with years of bad habit.
    I'm trying to be classy, idiot!
  • Spaghetti and Gondolas: Every stereotype you know about pre-WWII Italy is milked, although it's done so well and so affectionately you can't complain.
  • Stay in the Kitchen:
    • With all of the men in Piccolo's family gone from the city to find work, Piccolo has his female relatives work on the plane. Porco complains about it, claiming women can't handle the job, but Piccolo insists that they do good work.
    • Despite Fio (a) rebuilding and improving a one-of-a-kind plane (b) under the noses of the secret police (c) standing up to every armed pirate in the Adriatic (d) going on to be a major industrialist, Curtis thinks of her as just a Standard Hero Reward.
  • The Stinger: At the end of the film, Porco Rosso's plane can be seen flying through the clouds before the words "The End" show up.
  • Survivor Guilt: One of the central themes of the movie, as manifested by Porco's curse. He only turns into a pig after surviving the battle that killed many of his friends, and he feels like a coward for not doing more to save them - even though there clearly wasn't much he could do. Porco hates himself and sees no hope of breaking the curse, even though everyone else around him seems to genuinely admire and love him, and even his enemies know that he's extremely brave and honourable - which he will usually deflect by insisting that his honourable deeds have some cynical ulterior motive. His arc is mainly about accepting himself and seeing himself as deserving of happiness, and at the end, that is what maybe breaks the curse.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: "Le Temps des Cerises", sung by Gina and playing on the radio in the beginning.
  • Technical Pacifist: Porco will never purposely kill another pilot, often deliberately aiming to disable their plane non-lethally.
  • Translation Convention: The characters can be presumed to be speaking mostly Italian with some English here and there but the film's native language is Japanese.
  • Truce Zone: Gina's Cafe Adriano. Both pirates and pigs enter, but neither make any trouble inside; when it looks like the pirate gangs are about to start a fight, all it takes is a bit of gentle chiding from Gina and they're falling over themselves like bashful kids.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Piccolo is a mildly wizened tiny man with a family filled with beautiful women.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Porco goes into the boxing match against Curtis confident that he can smack Curtis around like a rag doll, only to find that Curtis is a lot stronger than he looks. Curtis not only manages to knock Porco down with his second hook, he manages to get in more hits during their fight.
  • Underwear Swimsuit: Fio takes a swim in her undies to relieve stress after the encounter with the pirates in Porco's cove.
  • The Unreveal:
    • The origin of Porco's curse, though his guilt stemming from the death of his best friend (and Gina's late husband) in the war may be the cause of it. It serves more as a symbol of his disillusionment and cynicism than anything else.
    • We also never see Porco's face when it's strongly hinted the curse was lifted, for a literal unreveal.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: No one seems to react much to the sight of a pig man walking around, although people certainly recognize Porco on sight.
  • Wall Crawl: Curtis seems to be surprisingly good at this, scaling the walls of Gina's garden, and descending the cliff into Porco's Island hideout.
  • Weird West: Invoked. In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue mentioned below, we see a poster for a movie Donald Curtis made in which he plays a cowboy who apparently meets a Tyrannosaurus rex. Possibly a reference to The Beast Of Slumber Mountain or The Valley of Gwangi.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: For everyone except Porco.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Just barely averted. A friend of Porco's during the war had only been married for two days when he was recalled to duty, flew a sortie, and got shot down. The resultant widow was Gina.
  • Wimp Fight: Porco's and Curtis' post-air duel boxing match quickly devolves into this: by the end of six rounds both men are so tired they don't even try to block each other's punches. This is not the case with the preceding air battle, which awes all observers and ends only after Curtis runs out of ammunition and Porco's gun jams.
  • Women Are Wiser: A general theme of Miyazaki's feminism, but especially notable since Gina's grace and Fio's idealism are up against Porco, Curtis, and the air pirates, who are all various flavors of Manchild.
  • Worf Had the Flu: A major factor in Curtis being able to shoot down Porco in their first dogfight was the fact that the engine of Porco's fighter was badly in need of an overhaul and Porco was more concerned with limping his way to his mechanic than fighting at the time. The second time around, when Porco's plane is back in flying trim, they're much more equally matched.
  • Wrench Wench: Fio and Piccolo Aviation's all-female workforce.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Played with. Fio suggests that if she kisses Porco, his curse might be lifted, even referring to the Frog Prince fairy tale (though it's strongly hinted she knew it wouldn't break the curse and just wanted an excuse to kiss him). At the end of the movie, Porco's curse is broken, but the movie refrains from showing us his face and leaves it ambiguous whether it was due to Fio's kiss, Porco finally letting go of his cynicism and disillusionment, him finally thinking of other people, or maybe just him getting walloped upside the head one last time for good measure.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Just about the only person who doesn't admire Porco - even his enemies have a grudging respect for him - is Porco himself.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: At the end, Porco volunteers to lead the Italian Air Force on a wild goose chase so everyone who came to see his dogfight with Curtis can escape. Curtis, always up for a bit of adventure, joins him. It's probably a spectacular aerial skirmish.