Studio Ghibli is known for producing blockbuster anime films featuring strong female characters, such as Chihiro from Spirited Away and Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle. However, one of the legendary studio's least popular films, 1992's Porco Rosso, also features a significant female lead named Fio.

At the beginning of the film, viewers are introduced to Marco Pagot (Rossolini in the American version), a World War I pilot. Marco has been performing odd tasks as a bounty hunter since the war ended, primarily stopping air "pirates" and other bandits. However, there is one physical feature that is tough to overlook: he has a pig's face. Alongside Marco is Fio Piccolo, a stubborn and driven adolescent who proved to be an essential female lead in 1992, despite the film's historical setting, and who remains an underappreciated star today.


Fio Is an Outstanding Female Lead Due to Her Determination and Bravery

One of the Least Popular Studio Ghibli Movies Has One of the Most Important Heroines_0

Porco Rosso gives viewers a good sense of Fio's personality right away. Fio is a boisterous teen girl who enjoys working on machinery. She is also tenacious and will go to any length to get what she wants if her demand is reasonable. Fio exudes confidence, which may be due in part to her disregard for her own safety. She, like many other Studio Ghibli heroines, is exceptionally brave, as demonstrated throughout the film.

When Fio and Marco reach the latter's home, they are ambushed by pirates who threaten to kill Marco and destroy his plane -- it's Fio who steps in and convinces them not to. Another pilot -- an American named Curtis -- is immediately taken with Fio and proposes to her. Instead, the group comes to a compromise stating that Marco and Curtis will compete in an air battle. If Marco wins, Curtis has to pay the debt that Marco owes to the Piccolo company. If Curtis wins, he can marry Fio.

By firmly standing up to multiple men who are larger than she is, this scene allows Fio's bravery and decisiveness to stand out. She also wins much respect and admiration for making the most of a difficult situation -- but it's much more than her personality and social skills that make Fio a standout heroine.


Porco Rosso's Fio Is a Great Model for Girls Who Want to Work in a Male-Dominated Industry

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Porco Rosso's lead heroine is a great example to viewers that gender representation is improving throughout the world and plays no role in what tasks a person can complete. Nor does it account for their capabilities and skills. The film's setting, which is around the 1930s, is the icing on the cake. Through its spunky main female character, Porco Rosso perfectly showcases the work women did during and after the war.

Marco travels to Milan at one point in the movie to see Mr. Piccolo, the mechanic. The dialogue suggests that he and his sons have been maintaining Marco's plane for a long time. Piccolo says his granddaughter can handle the job after learning that his sons left Italy due to the Great Depression, and Fio is only too happy to agree. She wants to demonstrate to Marco not only her own abilities as a mechanic but also the fact that women can be engineers. While there isn't much verbal praise for Fio's abilities, Marco probably comes to appreciate the talented women who assisted in fixing his plane.

Though she tends to be overlooked, Fio represents another complex and well-written female lead from the legendary Studio Ghibli. She displays a brilliant combination of fun, bravery and strength throughout the movie, making her a great heroine even if Porco Rosso is underappreciated by many.