The WW1 ace pilot who has been turned into a Bogart-like pig, is now flying an amphibian, a type of airplane that was developed in Italy in the 1920s. In fact the film is very much an homage to early aviation, with accuracy that you'd expect from Miyazaki Hayao, yet how does he know how it feels to fly planes like that?? The amazing thing is, he makes the viewers feel like we also know what it must have felt like. Click here to watch the original 紅の豚 Japanese trailer on Youtube (embed not allowed).
Miyazaki originally created this as a manga, and said this: "If this were animation, I might be able to convey the grandeur of this life-or-death battle. But this is a comic. I have no choice but to rely on the imagination of you, good readers."
Amphibians or float planes were popular in Japan back in the 1930s, especially in Ibaraki prefecture, near Lake Kasumigaura and were built by all the Japanese aircraft manufaturers of the time, including Nakajima, Mitsubishi and Aichi (as well as others that I have never heard of). Many of these were used as mail planes before WW2.
Pandabonium wrote about early aviation back in 2005:
In 1924, the US Army - there was no "US Air Force" until after WWII - made a daring flight with four aircraft around the world. It was the first time that any aircaft had circumnavigated the globe. The planes were Douglas "World Cruisers", a single engine biplane which could be fitted with either wheels or floats and had a crew of two. The cruising speed was 103 mph. They took off from Seattle on April 6th and within days crashed one of the ships in fog on one of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Happily the crew survived and hiked to safety.
One of their stops was Kasumigaura, on May 22, 1924. They landed on the lake using their floats. Ultimately, two of the planes completed the flight around the world having covered over 27,500 miles and taking 371 hours of flying time. The total time for the trip was 175 days due to time on the ground for rest, repairs, and waiting out bad weather.
(Might have been the first time I commented on his Pacific Islander blog, by the way!)
I'd like to visit the Yokaren Peace Memorial Museum near there, which was established in 1922.
Actually, the British appears to have beaten the Americans to Lake Kasumigaura, with a visit back in 1920, according to Aviation Post Card International:
In 1920/21 a British military mission of about 30 RAF personnel was in Japan assisting with the establishment of a naval air force, including the creation of the Kasumigaura school. As a result, Vickers and Supermarine supplied flying boats to the Japanese navy in the 1920s.
The front boat on the top card is a Supermarine Seagull III amphibian. This was powered by a single Napier Lion. This type was also supplied to the Royal and Australian Navies and was a fore-runner of the Walrus & Sea Otter. The other amphibian in the background is a Vickers Viking. This was a 4 seat cabin design also with a Napier Lion Two Viking Mk IV designated Type 58 were supplied to the Imperial Japanese Navy (...) other military customers included the US Navy, Dutch East Indies Air Force, Argentine Navy, Canadian A.F.
Two derivative 3 seat Vultures were built specially for a round-the-world flight attempt by S/L Maclaren in 1924 and the first G-EBGO was shipped to Japan as a back-up aircraft and this was also assembled at Kasumigaura. It was needed and was shipped to Burma to replace the crashed G-EBHO but itself forced landed off the Aleutians.
Aren't you glad you are reading Kurashi... If any of my readers can find vintage aviation-related postcards like that one, please send them to me, and I will publish them here.
Here is the theme song of Porco Rosso, performed by peace activist Kato Tokiko, born in 1943 in what was then Manchukuo:
Let's have an old tale once in a while, shall we?
At that cafe that we always go to
We saw horse chestnut trees by the window
Spending a day on a cup of coffee
Searching for the unseen tomorrow
Everyone placed their dreams
Blown by the hot wind of the changing era
You felt the time flow with your whole body
There were times I slept on the roadside
We couldn't go anywhere together
We didn't have any money, but we still managed
Poverty brought us the new day
We crammed ourselves in a small student flat
Causing a racket until the morning, and then we slept
Like a storm every day burned up
We ran till we ran out of breath
Look at the only photo remaining
The bearded guy's you, isn't he?
Now I don't know where you may be
Although I have made few friends
The fact that everything that day meant nothing
That, I can't tell anyone
Even now, just as before, searching for the endless dream
You still keep on running