Pacific Rim: The Black, an adventure worth the watch. Pacific Rim: The Black is an animated Japanese—American creation written and developed by Gregg Johnson and Craig Kyle for Netflix. It was directed by Hiroyuki Hayashi and Jae Hong Kim and released recently on 4th March 2021. Based on the Pacific Rim series, the plot follows the adventures or rather misadventures of Hayley and her brother Taylor after their camp gets destroyed.
All in all, it is a great watch for anyone looking to take a break from intense traditional anime for a short while. It has seven episodes which make it perfect for a tiny binge. The level of storytelling is good and often surprising, which you might not expect at first. The characterization is also not bad for a non-manga-related show with this kind of length. However, it could have been better. With all things said and done, Pacific Rim: The Black is a good watch and not something that would waste your time. There has been no word about it being related to the franchise, but it still gives the nod to the older movies. Without further ado, let’s get into a more in-depth review.
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The plot of Pacific Rim: The Black
We need to acknowledge the fact that Pacific Rim: The Black manages to tell a story of its own. It should be very easy to get carried away or humbled by the presence of a larger film universe already in place. However, Pacific Rim: The Black manages to show its own world without getting distracted by its own larger universe. That is a commendable feat. The story starts in Australia, which is overrun by Kaiju, massive monsters who destroy everything in their path. We see Kaiju popping up from about everywhere. The only way to fight them effectively is with Jaegers. Machines of our own creation are able to withstand a battle with the monsters.
We see Hunter Vertigo, a Jaeger piloted by Brina and Ford Travis. They are in battle when the order of The Black comes in. What is The Black? It is basically a command to abandon an area because it can no longer be saved. Australia was considered lost to the Kaiju and hence evacuated. However, a lot of people hadn’t quite made it out yet. This included Brina and Ford’s children Hayley and Taylor. After defeating a Kaiju, they run to their children’s location to save them from multiple monsters. They then take them to a safe spot known only to them and promise to return soon.
The next time we see Taylor and Hayley, it has been five years, and their parents haven’t returned yet. It is safe to assume that they were killed. However, we find no solid evidence of their deaths later in the series. Hayley and Taylor survived with the other members of their camp because the place is rich in resources. However, their desire to go out in the world still remains, especially with Taylor still believing that their parents are alive.
Hayley accidentally comes across a training Jaeger close to their camp. They accidentally activate it too, but this sets off loud alarms drawing the attention of a Kaiju who proceeds to destroy the whole camp and kill everyone in it. Since Hayley and Taylor were in the Jaeger, they survive and manage to put the Kaiju down temporarily.
This is where it all truly begins. It is clearly a show which does not shy away from being dark from moment to moment. The Kaiju are obviously horrible and then so are some of the characters. We literally see a man’s head get blown off by a bomb fixed in a radio.
To handle a story from such an awkward point and take it forward literally from the middle of nowhere is amazing. It might feel confusing at first. Where will these kids go? How will they survive? How will they find their dead parents? But it all comes together just right.
The story has its own great flow and moves ahead quite smoothly without feeling rushed or abrupt. So Pacific Rim: The Black nailed telling a story in every aspect.
Now this movie certainly falls behind a little bit when it comes to its characters. They could have been better fleshed out and deeper beings than they were shown to be. We are shown the insides of their psyche and their memories at various times, and yet, it just feels a little less. Let’s analyze it.
Taylor is too stubborn for his own good. He often ends up saying hurtful things to his sister, and his decisions and calls would be selfish if they weren’t opposed by Hayley. Taylor doesn’t care much about anyone except for themselves at various points. He proposed they leave an area about to be attacked by Kaiju, leaving behind Boy, a boy they found in a lab. This guy also puts many lives, including his own, in danger when they are again attacked by Copperhead, the Kaiju that destroyed his camp.
In the ensuing fight, Atlas Destroyer, their Jaeger, ends up losing an arm and being weakened. He should have just retreated, but he decided to fight when it was not necessary. By no means is he a bad character; questionable decisions, being carried away by emotions are all signs of a great character arc. However, the problem still remains in how he became that. As mentioned before, a little more background about their time during the five years they were isolated would be great. However, we are not shown that, and so it is left to the imagination.
Hayley learns from her mistakes. She is empathic and keeps Taylor in check when he’s making moral decisions with selfish intents. Both Taylor and Hayley hold her responsible for getting everyone at the camp killed. It was her who accidentally powered up Atlas Destroyer and triggered the alarms. The little emotional moments between her and her dead friends could have been given more space than they were. It feels like their relationships were shallow based on what we were shown.
She, too, isn’t as fleshed out as she should have been. However, we feel a stronger emotional connection to her than Taylor. Hayley feels like the anchor who keeps the storyline engaging and hooked. Hayley is protective and strong and feels guilt visibly. This makes her a great character with a lot of potential for growth.
We certainly look forward to watching more out of these characters as they grow and travel through a destroyed Australia.
Not much can be said about the music in the series. It is not especially striking or extraordinary. At points, you may even fail to notice it playing. However, it does help escalate some moments. Especially the fight sequences are far better with the music playing in the background even though it may not feel noticeable.
The animation in the series is amazing. It diverts a lot from what usual anime fans might be used to watch, but it is engaging and attractive regardless. The fights and eruptions, the simpler moments, and the emotionally raw memory sequences are all animated well. The cinematography is also well done. The animation adds that extra layer of detail with carefully made mechanical scenes and memory sequences. The scenes with the Neural Bridges are especially engaging and help take us one level deeper into the psyche of otherwise unexplored characters. This is a big plus for the show.
Pacific Rim: The Black is worth watching. We have no two thoughts about it. It is quick, sweet, and engaging. It is easy to understand as it is not entirely tied to the other Pacific Rim storylines. The plot is simple, and so is everything else in the story. It is still amazing to see how the story surprises you when you least expect it. There are interesting fight scenes, character traits, and just the overall setting. We often see worlds overrun by zombies or aliens. Pacific Rim: The Black is no different in that aspect. Kaiju are all over the place and are simply terrifying to any human life in general. There are those strong enough to tear apart many Jaegers at once, and then there are those who seem to eat their own kind.
Overall, Pacific Rim: The Black will keep you entertained and often, at the edge of your seat. It is far more interesting to see its potential and what it will become if a sequel is announced. As of right now, there have been no talks about a sequel. The show is currently available on Netflix to watch.
Our rating: 3/5
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Pacific Rim: The Black is worth watching. We have no two thoughts about it. It is quick, sweet, and engaging. It is easy to understand as it is not entirely tied in to the other Pacific Rim storylines. The plot is simple and so is everything else in the story. It is still amazing to see how the story surprises you when you least expect it. There are interesting fight scenes, character traits, and just the overall setting. We often see worlds overrun by zombies or aliens.