Netflix has had a couple of mecha shows arrive at the platform in the past few months.
This includes the ongoing Transformers: War for Cybertron, and even 2007’s Gurren Lagan.
Arriving in the first week of March, however, is Pacific Rim: The Black, which is an anime side story that tries to expand the story and world that the first two Pacific Rim films laid out.
With the disappointing second movie still fresh in my memory, I went in watching the new Pacific Rim anime with moderate expectations.
By the end of the 1st season’s 7th episode, I was hooked and looking for more.
Let’s take a closer look.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Into The Black
The story centers around siblings Hayley and Taylor Travis, children of Jaeger pilot/parent duo Ford and Brina Travis. After a late evacuation, the family is forced to stay within one area in the newly created “Black” in central Australia, where everything is cut off from the rest of the world.
In a need to call for help and reinforcements, Ford and Brina go off in their Jaeger Hunter Horizon and march off, vowing to come back.
Five years later, we see the siblings grow up and create their own little safe haven in the hopes of their parents coming back.
However, everything changes when a Jaeger is discovered and a Kaiju attacks.
With their safe haven destroyed, Hayley and Taylor finally set off to find their parents and fight for survival in the Black. Helping them in their journey is a training Jaeger called Atlas Destroyer and AI system named Loa.
Soon, the siblings encounter a young boy trapped in a Pan Pacific Defense Coalition pod whom they call “Boy” (God of War 2018 flashbacks).
From there, the story escalates, as they discover a settlement called Bogdan, who are trying to survive The Black through guns and shady dealings with Kaiju elements.
In what was a small yet crazy multi-episode arc, they leave with their Jaeger, along with former PPDC drift tech Joel and Mei, Shane’s right-hand woman who had her memories altered to become an effective killer.
Eventually, we find out that Boy is actually a “friendly” Kaiju that is able to drift with a rogue Jaeger named Apex, and turn into a Kaiju himself.
By the end of the first season, the siblings discover their parent’s abandoned Jaeger, while finally taking out their Kaiju tormentor Copperhead for good.
However, more questions arise, as a mysterious group called The Sisters appear out of nowhere and seeks to make contact with Boy.
Unlike the action-packed and more comedic second film, The Black has a tone that feels more in line with the first film. With an unexpectedly high body count a few episodes in, you know that things are way more intense.
Overall, the story may have gone a few weird turns with Boy, but still keeps the essence of the first film.
Speaking of the first film, there’s a nice short appearance of a well-liked character from the original that made me a bit emotional.
Of Mechs and Kaiju
Now let’s take a look at the Jaegers, Kaiju, and the animation.
To start things off, the animation is a mix of 2D backgrounds and 3D animation. The first 2-3 episodes looked a little wonky and jagged at times, but it does become a bit smoother by the end.
The Kaiju look like their menacing best, and remain faithful to previous film designs.
The Jaeger designs are also nice to look at. Hunter Horizon is a great looking mech with a color scheme that reminds me of the General Revil Re-Zel units from Gundam Unicorn.
Atlas Destroyer is a colorful unit that also looks great without having to do anything flashy or stylish. The Jaegers and Kaiju are the bread and butter of the franchise, and it’s nice to see them look fine in anime form.
Overall, Pacific Rim: The Black is a gritty spin off that expands the existing lore a bit more, while having the emotional depth found in the original film.
While some plot elements can be weird, it still serves the story well, and keep you on your toes.
If you’re looking for more Pacific Rim and want something closer to the first film, give this series a shot.
Pacific Rim: The Black is currently available on Netflix
About the Author
A former teacher and guitarist, Jude (Twitter, Instagram) is currently a writer that covers video games and is one of the co-hosts of The Geeky Juans. Apart from hosting the podcast, you can also catch him streaming at Dude It’s Jude on Facebook.