Porfy, his younger sister Mina, and their parents live a humble but happy life in the Grecian countryside. They've just started running a gas station, much to Porphy's joy, and it seems like only good things are in store for their future. However, a huge earthquake changes all that, leaving Porfy without a home or a family -- sans Mina, who seems to have disappeared in the commotion. Now, Porfy is determined to find his sister and be able to live together happily again.
I feel bad for the people who watched Porfy no Nagai Tabi while it was airing. Because so few people were watching it to begin with, there was no one interested in subbing it; in fact, the entire show (52 episodes) had already aired before a fansub group finally began to work on it. This led to the show being largely ignored during its runtime, which is unfortunate because it's a good series despite its unpopularity.
Released in 2008, Porfy no Nagai Tabi is one of the most recent World Masterpiece Theater releases. It's directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, who has recently garnered infamy for having directed
the anime adaptation of Pupa. Don't let this discourage you though; most directors have a blunder or two, some worse than others. Mochizuki deserves to be better known for series such as Saraiya Goyou, Zettai Shounen, and, of course, Porfy no Nagai Tabi.
This show has an interesting arc-based structure. The first 10 or so episodes detail the simple life of Porfy, Mina, and their parents in a small village in Greece. It's all very mundane, but there's this charm to the main characters that makes you want to keep watching. Porfy is a good-natured but sometimes rash 14 year-old boy with an almost obsessive interest in automobiles. Mina, his younger sister, balances this out with her sweetness and innocence. Together, they go to school and play with friends while the family works toward building a service station at their home. It's a happy time for them, but not for long.
After a certain event occurs, the series is then divided into several distinct arcs. A few episodes are devoted to the aftermath of the event; then, when Mina eventually goes missing, the main storyline of the show begins. The bulk of the story involves Porfy traveling to different locations across Europe to search for his sister, experiencing new things and meeting people with good intentions as well as those with more questionable motives. This traveling arc comprises two halves: the first half is a series of mini-arcs that are each about three to four episodes in length. Each mini-arc is about Porfy's interactions with the people he meets and how he lends a helping hand to solve their problems.
The second half changes this up a bit; it's composed of episodic stories that are more "standalone" in nature. For example, one episode is about Porfy staying in a town with very strange customs. Another episode simply shows Porfy walking through the countryside with nothing significant occurring aside from a couple of brief interactions with passersby. I guess that's realism for you!
The show isn't all about Porfy though. We also get glimpses of Mina's new life after she's taken in by a traveling gypsy woman and her family. In fact, the last ten or so episodes are primarily focused on Mina as she experiences an unexpected but fortunate turn of events in Paris. The purpose of this last arc is to build everything up to a finale — a satisfying one for sure, but unfortunately the show ends right at the climactic scene (it even plays in slow motion through the credits), which leaves the viewer craving for an epilogue of sorts to tie up all the loose ends.
A series about traveling isn't complete without pretty scenery, and Porfy no Nagai Tabi doesn't disappoint. The background art in this show is gorgeous; both landscapes and cities are drawn with stunning detail, and what's more impressive is that the show maintains the quality of the art through all 52 episodes. On the other hand, the character designs are somewhat simple with no shading, so the contrast between the two may be a little jarring at first.
The soundtrack is appropriately mood-enhancing; that's all I really have to say about it. Something interesting I noticed was that the overall sound of the music changed to suit each new city or location that Porfy visited. For example, the tracks that play during the slice of life arc in Greece consist mainly of soft piano and violin; however, in Paris, the accordion and synthesizers are introduced, which I thought was a nice touch.
In short, Porfy no Nagai Tabi is a story about friendship, new experiences, loneliness, loss, and, most of all, growing up. Many viewers will probably dismiss it as boring, especially since it's 52 episodes long, but if you like these types of stories then you'll definitely want to experience this journey with Porfy and Mina.
Porphy no Nagai Tabi is really not an anime to watch if your looking for something intense, fast paced or addicting (it's a slice of life ^^").
The anime is light and soft despite it being about two wandering orphans without a home because it's being shown through a child's eyes. The anime continuously hints at darker things going on behind the scenes yet these are only subtle hints that have no importance in the story whatsoever and as we watch Porphy and Mina start to shift and change as they grow, we see a little more of these come to light. More complex emotions
are shown (although they're still not that complex) as Porphy begins to mature and come into contact with more people who are reluctant to take pity on him.
Story 6/10 - The story is very slow paced and is definitely not for everyone. I found the story intriguing and it definitely keeps you watching since there is no way predicting what's going to happen next but if you're watching for the story alone, you'll quickly grow impatient. It's the characters, their journeys and appreciating the art and sound that will make you love this anime.
Art 7/10 - If you only look at the landscapes and pretend you can't see the characters (LOL) you'll be left thinking the anime was pretty beautiful but then you see the characters and they look like they've been drawn on classic paint. No, all jokes aside, I really did enjoy the art, the landscapes were beautiful and the contrast between the characters and the background (such a big contrast) was actually quite refreshing.
Sound 7/10 - The sound really, really grew on me. Again, it's really not for everyone. Super slow (I found it calming) with piano. The music is actually hard to describe but it's well picked and really does suit the feel of the anime.
Character 8/10 - If you don't get emotionally attached to characters easily then you probably won't care much for the characters in Porphy no Nagai Tabi. I enjoyed watching them slowly grow. Going through their journey with them and coming across different people who all treated them differently was really, really enjoyable. There was much more to each character than was actually shown and this was done pretty well since the more Porphy matured, the more insight he had and thus the more you were able to see about each character.
(skipping enjoyment because i cba)
Overall 7/10 - Even though, I got pretty impatient towards the end, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I've said this a thousand times but it's definitely NOT for everyone. If you like to take your time with anime, appreciate the thought and effort that went into it and get ridiculously attached to characters as soon as they appear then you will really enjoy this anime. It's really cute.. if you're into watching things grow and seeing things from an innocent point of view then you should give it a go :) especially if you wanted something light to pass the time.