Denial: The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the blog and other contributors. The author of this review is very passionate about the title franchise, so take his ideas with a grain of salt and a glass of kaiju milk. – Karsish
Imagine this: You are a 12-year-old boy watching the opening monologue of a movie called Pacific Rim (2013), knowing nothing about the movie, with no expectations and nothing to lose. This young man falls in love with the world that director Guillermo del Toro has lovingly created and dreams of seeing the sequel to the franchise in the future.
That guy was me. Fast forward to 2018: The sequel, Pacific Rim: Uprising had just released a huge sounding whopper, similar to the wet tuba played by a beluga whale. With the near unanimous rejection of the sequel, all the hype surrounding the rumor of an animated adaptation of the franchise has died down. Many have even forgotten that it is being done.
That was before the Pacific Rim trailer, though: Black has fallen to 6. February 2021. Given everything I hated about Uprising and then some that seems to come back to haunt me, I’ve come full circle by stepping into the latest Netflix anime adaptation with no expectations and nothing to lose. This appeared to be the best possible atmosphere to get into this show, and unfortunately I was wrong.
Pacific Rim: Black is a Netflix original animated series based on Pacific Rim (2013), directed by Guillermo del Toro. Defined indefinitely after Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) and tells the story of Taylor Travis (Calum Worthy) and Hayley Travis (Gideon Adlon), who go in search of their parents in an old abandoned hunter after Australia is trapped by a massive kaiju invasion.
Garbage can disposal
The tragedy of the Pacific Rim: Rebellion, figuratively speaking, spits on the legacy of the original and has left a foul taste in the mouth of many. However, when I delved into the series, I was very pleased to see that The Black distanced itself and corrected the mistakes of the sequel by following the original film much more closely.
Most of the questions one would normally have after seeing the trailer for The Black are answered quickly and logically. Even the things I didn’t like at first, like the Atlas destroyer design and the clichéd premise of the series, were satisfyingly explained and executed. This allowed me to dive right into the series and be sure she would answer my questions.
I loved the main characters and the secondary characters (kudos to my boy Joel). Taylor and Haley were a sweet brother and sister and it was a joy to watch them interact. Their actions had disastrous consequences, and even at the end of the season, they were still not perfect as Jaeger pilots. Adlon’s role of Hayley was moving and impressive, for a character that can quickly become boring.
Fresh coat of paint, followed by some
The dawn of a new era for the franchise.
Black takes the best elements of what came before and uses the animation tools to expand on these concepts. The new ideas build on the existing ones and give us a deeper look into the history and world building of Pacific Rim. For example, the drift is visualized when falling into the water and has a spectacular transient animation. The drifting technology itself is also explored in much greater depth, and the series gives us a glimpse of the horrific consequences of its reckless use.
Uprising suffered from floating Jaegers and a weak sound design, while The Black has much more immersive and impressive animation and a powerful sound design. Believe me, I went back and watched scenes from all three parts in the franchise just to compare. While Pacific Rim became overly modern and holographic in its design, The Black brought back what the franchise did best: a gritty interface, an industrial setting, and an abandoned stone environment.
Believe me, there is also a reason for the color scheme.
The setting of the series is fantastic, hand drawn and not 100% CGI. Black’s cinematography is very similar to that of the original film, constantly using low-angle shots and real camera angles to give scenes a tangible sense of scale. I constantly felt like I was seeing everything Polygon Pictures could do with a small overall budget.
But most of all, as a musician, I wanted to hear the score of the show. Pacific Rim’s main theme may be timeless, but Black’s score does not disappoint at all. Unsurprisingly, the series’ composer, Brandon Campbell, was actually the assistant to Ramin Javadi, who recorded the music for the original film. Campbell has done a phenomenal job of capturing what makes Pacific Rim so unique, sonically.
Okay, I admit that I was under the impression that Black was the savior of this franchise – a particularly egregious excuse for Uprising. Is the show perfect? No, absolutely not. There are a few things holding him back from reaching his true potential. Jaegers looked too clean and shiny, even if he was damaged during the fight. Characters like Shane (Andy McPhee) and May (Victoria Grace) remain underdeveloped. The short length of season 1 (only 7 episodes) leaves a lot to be desired, and the unclear cliffhanger at the end doesn’t help either. The season finale wasn’t a finale at all, it was just an interlude for the sequel in season 2.
But despite all these flaws, I, a frustrated and battered Pacific Rim fan, still had a good time. You’re a BET. And you can bet I’ll want to know more about this series when it lands and hits the ground running. Pacific Rim: Black felt like a real Pacific Rim and a real attempt to sell the franchise.
Pacific Rim: Black (2021)
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