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Better Than Expected - Pacific Rim: The Black

Better Than Expected - Pacific Rim: The Black

A look into Pacific Rim: The Black, Netflix's original animated series that takes place in the Pacific Rim movie universe and is much better than it has any right to be.

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An Anime Adaptation Done Right

I'll preface this whole thing with the fact that I am not a fan of the movie franchise.  The "Made for IMAX turn your brain off and watch giant CG destruction" series has never lifted above the schlock that kept me from appreciating it as anything more than a feast for the eyes and a groan for... well everything else.  When I saw this series on Netflix though I realized that this source material was made to be animated.  Something about the over the top reactions and corny dialog works when I'm not looking at people trying to keep from laughing while delivering the lines.

Initial Kaiju
Pacific Rim: The Black starts with everything on fire, as all good giant monster media should.

Polygon Pictures has done a wonderful job animating this world in what has become their signature CG anime style.  I've been a big fan of theirs since their stylized depictions in Tron: Uprising and their presence can be felt when they assisted with the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series.  The kaiju and facial expressions definitely pull from their history with Tron, and can be seen in a slightly more organic way here, and as always their action just works, especially between the jaegers and kaiju.

Category IV Kaiju Copperhead
This guy refuses to quit and causes quite a ruccus from the get go.

 

Lore Deep Dive

The story itself opens up right into the action, Kaiju are hopping out of Rifts all over Australia and, austensibly, the world over and the humans are losing.  The first episode sets up the primary goal and protagonists but does little to expand on the series as a whole.  By the end of episode 2 though we already start seeing the impact this series could have on future installments of the movie franchise and we see multiple expansions into spoiler territory by the end of the series that could change future installments dramatically.  We've got secret government experiments, AI that might have PTSD, multiple interesting uses of drift technology that hadn't been shown in prior material all in this short 7 episode season.

The Atlas Destroyer
The Atlas Destroyer has its own AI personality and seems to be more than meets the eye.

I specify that it's a short season, because by the end of it we have a bunch of questions and the only answers we've gotten so far all have additional questions behind them.  You can tell Marvel alumni are serving as showrunners, because if the announced season 2 doesn't start closing some of these story beats we'll be left with a lot of blank space in these stories.  The main story follows Taylor and Hayley, a brother/sister duo are children of two jaeger pilots and find themselves fleeing their safe haven after a kaiju finds it.  They eventually find the mysterious "Boy", anti-hero Mei, and the main human antagonist Shane, at least for season 1.  These threads and more start to wind up but we don't get to see any of them end save a couple tertiary storylines that really only feed into more major character arcs as opposed to being a means to an end themselves.

All that being said, I'm excited to see what's coming in season 2, and if they can start putting together some satisfying endings for some of these stories and character arcs I'll be a happily entertained consumer.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 15, 2021 8:33 AM

    Netflix's new anime entry into the Pacific Rim franchise seems better than any of the movies whose universe it dwells in so far.

    Read more: Better Than Expected - Pacific Rim: The Black

    • reply
      March 15, 2021 9:50 AM

      Don’t you go besmirching Pacific Rim (movie).

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        March 15, 2021 1:02 PM

        I figured I'd get a lot of this given my feelings on the matter. The movies are really not my style but this show I have enjoyed a lot more than I thought it would. It's over too soon though.

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          March 15, 2021 1:42 PM

          I've only seen the first one but I thought it was an enjoyable, dumb movie. I miss movies in the same vein of Escape from New York or Demolition Man.

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            March 15, 2021 1:45 PM

            See I liked both of those, I guess I'm particular about my dumb movies.

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              March 15, 2021 1:51 PM

              I watched Attack the Block this weekend and really enjoyed it. It doesn’t have nearly the budget but it had that perfect action cheese combo. Imagine a modern day The Warriors. Need these kinds of movies in the $5-10 million dollar again. I don’t think Pacific Rim has the staying power to be a cult classic but it wasn’t that far short.

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      March 15, 2021 10:07 AM

      Eh, not really.

      It adopts the Pacific Rim dress code, but it's got none of the fun or stupidity of the movies. It's just the usual dreary anime angst and death, with lots of trauma and self-loathing. It's fine for what it is, but it doesn't do anything new or anything that hasn't been done better in other anime.

      It certainly expands on he PR universe, but the "humans are the real monsters" trope has been done to death a million times and that's not really what PR was about.

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        March 15, 2021 11:03 AM

        Asuka is going to burst on the scene in EVA 02 and tell those kids to stay in their fucking lane

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          March 15, 2021 3:38 PM

          Fuck yeah she is! Then she'll get cocky and EVA 02 will end up speared through the chest by a Kaiju.

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        March 15, 2021 12:52 PM

        See I hate the stupidity of the movies, it just takes me out of them entirely. The show is Mad Max meets Godzilla and I really liked that version comparatively. Also we just saw maybe two really bad people vs the dozens of good (but now mostly dead) in the show. I don't think it's really doing a "humans are the real monsters" trope here, just that there are bad people taking advantage of a shitty situation.

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          March 15, 2021 3:12 PM

          Meh, I didn't hate it, but it's not really Pacific Rim in tone, just the backdrop. It's not bad, but it's basically just taking Pacific Rim back to Japanese anime/mecha tropes, and what was fun and novel about Pacific Rim was that it was importing and filtering those ideas for a western production.

          So...what's the point? I get the sense they just had the IP and figured they'd do a pretty by-the-number anime using an IP people recognized. Again- I didn't hate it, but it's pretty far from what the movies were about (even if the second one stunk).

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      March 15, 2021 10:30 AM

      [deleted]

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      March 15, 2021 10:49 AM

      Nice man. i was hesitate due to the art style. But may give it a watch

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        March 15, 2021 1:01 PM

        I used to not really like Polygon Picture's style but my tastes have changed the more of their stuff I see.

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      March 15, 2021 11:28 AM

      My son and I are enjoying it. It seems aimed at teens in that teen drama kind of way, and there are a number of story points and character behaviors that don’t make sense, but welcome to sci-fi, I guess. The kaiju are very well done though, as is the animation overall. Worth a watch for sure and assuredly better than the live-action sequel.

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        March 15, 2021 12:55 PM

        Sure, most anime is aimed at that demographic. I'll agree some of the story beats don't make sense, particularly initially, but I have a feeling some of that will be explained away and some of that is just plain anime weirdness (especially sci-fi anime wierdness).

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      March 15, 2021 1:46 PM

      I mean, has there been much meaningful character development for the siblings since the first episode?

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        March 15, 2021 1:55 PM

        Spoilers I guess.

        Hayley took down the Copperhead that wiped out their homestead, which is probably going to mean something in future episodes but we haven't had time since it happened in the last episode. Both her and Taylor drifted with Mei who appears to have likely altered their personality, and the ghost drift Taylor did with Hercules has obviously modified his memory and who knows if it modified his personality as well. They've also found their parents old Jaeger and began dealing with the message they found there but yeah, they've otherwise just been on this journey without much development of their character. It has been introductions and world building more than anything else. Mei has probably had more character development than either of the leads at this point.

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      March 15, 2021 2:14 PM

      If I loved PR, but not super into budget anime, would I care for this?

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        March 15, 2021 2:32 PM

        Yes, it’s good. Also, it’s arguably much grittier than the live action original. Lots of people getting offed and the like.

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        March 15, 2021 2:35 PM

        I can't exactly tell you 'cause I didn't like PR. I am a bit picky on anime though and I liked this. If you're on the fence maybe hold off till season 2 comes out to see if the story is worth getting invested in.

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      March 15, 2021 4:06 PM

      I'm only up to ep 3, but I find it weird that the only people to survive the apocalypse in Australia are American.

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