Ghibli Challenge #2, #3 – Porco Rosso and Princess Mononoke

The only way I have a shot of hitting 12 movies in a less than a month is to double up. So luck would have it that I can catch the subbed versions of both films. This would be the first time I saw the sub of both in a theater. I mean, where can you see Porco in theaters?

I saw Princess Mononoke’s Disney dub many times, however. It’s always fun to watch those dubs because they’re just so much better made than the average anime dubs that we see on the market. Well, I’m not going to let lack of subtitles stop me anyway, but it’s nice to have the sub experience when possible.

This is not the first time I’ve seen either film. In fact now that I got Totoro out of the way the only Ghibli film that I have not seen is just the Yamada’s. Nothing life-changing or opinion-shattering happening here. Instead I’ll just take this chance to wax nostalgic about something that is already … nostalgic.

I mean, I guess you can’t be THAT fond of about running from Italian fascists. Miyazaki is a man who came from before my time after all, I suppose.

And a lot of the themes I see in Porco especially reflects well on today’s anime, 15+ years afterwards. I mean, isn’t Strike Witches kind of the same idea? Fio is both more American (literally) and more moe (in that she engenders that reaction in the movie) but ultimately she is a young, bodacious plane mechanic. She is not some kind of rare, imported European luxury-car-like trophy wife that the pirates and bounty hunters know about.

Maybe that is why Porco Rosso has long always been my favorite Miyazaki work. The charming mechanical design and wonderful aviation animation, however, isn’t something we will be able to find today. Well, I think it might be Miyazaki’s most mecha-like work in that regard. Porco Rosso is mecha-like in that we aren’t being shown some imposing, terrifying monster (see: Howl’s), or strange and distant like Saber’s Avalon (see: Laputa). It is something as handy as Ashitaka’s blade and homely as a bed of straw, but infinitely more complicated, in those airplanes. Those aerodynamic lines! I feel like Haganai’s Rika.

Speaking of a bed of straws, that was basically Princess Mononoke. I had a pretty good seat at Porco, but since we came back into the theater late, there was no more regular seating left. The IFC staffer kindly took out two portable couch-things for me and my companion and it was like chilling on a couch at home while tilting my head 45 degrees up and left for about two hours. The leg room made it all worthwhile though.

Out of all of Studio Ghibli’s catalog, I think Mononoke is the one movie that I have seen the most times, or at the very least, in 35mm. (I might have seen Whisper more times, but always on VHS or DVD.) And surprisingly even this time I was able to pick out things that I either didn’t pick up from previous viewings or just forgot. Namely, all the strange, magical stuff that happens in the movie. Like Ashitaka’s arm’s powers, or what the Deer God likes to do. Those pig-skinned hunters are still the creepiest things ever.

More relevantly, the viewing for both films reaffirms in my mind their status as animation treasures. Just that unlike Porco, Mononoke didn’t taste sweeter this time around, as if the wine stopped aging. Man, I can watch Porco a few more times. Maybe I will!

The second and third so-called challenges are a part of an end-of-year festivity among some anime bloggers.  You can find out more about the Ghibli theatrical road show from GKIDS.

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