Spoilers Ahead; Mmkay.
Pacific Rim was one of my favorite new IPs in the last decade. When a sequel was announced, Pacific Rim: Uprising, I was understandably hyped. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best. It was a pretty big letdown, from the jaeger designs to taking one of the most memorable characters from the first movie and turning them evil. There were many bad calls in the sequel, and I assumed that it was the end of getting any more Pacific Rim content. Yet, here we are with a Netflix anime original, Pacific Rim: The Black.
Pacific Rim: The Black takes inspiration from both movies and does its best to mix the lore while adding its own to the mythos. It actually adds a lot. It’s a young adult, adventure and to be honest, it gets dark. The first movie starts with some devastating origins, and this follows in the same vein. In the far future, after the events of the Uprising, Humanity seems pretty much doomed. The Kaiju won, and Australia is even more of a dangerous wasteland. A husband/wife Jaeger team abandons their two children, Taylor (Calum Worthy) and Hayley (Gideon Adlon), in the Australian Outback as they go off to get help. Five years passed and they never returned. After the kids find a Jaeger somehow, they two go off to find their missing parents.
The animation is all CGI, and at times it looks pretty choppy. Although, they clearly put care into the designs and made a good call to be inspired by the first movie’s vibrancy. The series looks great in still shots, and the choppy framerate doesn’t affect some decent action scenes. The new Jaeger, Atlas Destroyer, and the new kaiju designs all look like they could be in a big-budget sequel of the films. Surprisingly, we also see new kaiju, smaller ones, and another Kaiju/Jaeger hybrid.
As far as plots go, the story is pretty basic and takes inspiration from old-school anime as the main films do. Ultraman and Evagelion come to mind. They also make many references to the two films to tie the many different pieces of lore together. The siblings are pretty much walking death, as almost every encounter they have with other people leads to people dying. Those people die gruesomely, from being devoured, being crushed, to having their heads explode. On top of that, they have a giant category IV kaiju on their tail, Copperhead. They tend to get over all of this fairly quickly. In their travels, they rescue a character in a glass tube. They refer to him as Boy. His inclusion in the series is a hard turn from the basic overall plot of the franchise. It stops becoming humans in mechs versus kaiju to save humanity and then also includes a story about a superhuman boy who can also transform into kaiju. They also now have people who can control smaller kaiju and worship the big ones? These additions to the lore feel like such a jarring stray down the wrong path. You could change the name of the series. It wouldn’t feel like Pacific Rim.
I’m all for trying new things, but the series ends rather abruptly. With all these twists jammed in the final two episodes, it’s a bit bloated. Atlas Destroyer and Copperhead’s final confrontation was also rather lacking, as this is our first real Jaeger/Kaiju fight in the entire series. With more mysteries than answers, I definitely wouldn’t mind watching another season just to get some closure.
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