Okay, this post is definitely a ploy on my part to influence the "Best Miyazaki Movie" vote. Porco Rosso is lagging behind at the moment, and it's a favorite movie of mine. It may even be my favorite of Miyazaki's directoral films....but I say that about all of them. Heh.
Courtesy of Wingsee, one of the great Studio Ghibli fansites, we have a collection of the spectacular background paintings from Porco Rosso. I'm a great fan of Kazuo Oga; his distinctive style defines Ghibli more than almost anyone, save the directors themselves. This Neorealist art style harkens back to Heidi, Marco, and Anne, with an obsession to real-life details unparalleled in the animation world. These films are very firmly grounded in the real world, even though they may contain fantastical elements - Marco as a pig, Kiki flying on a broomstick.
This is where Porco Rosso differs from any similar kind of movie in Hollywood. It's not a movie about explosions or chase scenes or the umpteenth knockoff of Star Wars. It's a movie about real people and their complicated lives. It's a movie grounded in emotional realism. This art style is essential for enabling that mood.
That first screenshot of the house reminds me so much of the old colonial district in Bogota. Its use of color, light and texture are amazing, they tell a story. Notice that the ceiling tiles are not uniform; notice the signs that have faded with time, and the worn chair beside the door. This is a painting that tells a story. It provides us with a history of this world, which, in turn, informs us about the characters and their lives.
Have I mentioned that Porco Rosso is an excellent movie? It's going to look stunning on Blu-Ray and a good plasma set.