The movie clearly inspired by anime about mechs fighting monsters comes full circle.
In the future, monsters known as Kaiju emerge from a portal in the Pacific Rim (oh, THAT’S why they call it that). These monsters, controlled by aliens known as “precursors,” quickly start to decimate mankind until we develop the Jaeger system, a giant robot suit piloted by two psychically-linked people. First, humanity thought they beat them in 2020 when we nuked the portal. Then, ten years later, Jaeger parts were infected by Kaiju brain cells, leading to the “Uprising War.” Some time after that, the Kaiju overran Australia. Five years after that, our story begins, with orphaned siblings Taylor and Hayley Travis (Calum Worthy and Gideon Anlon) trying to survive in the ruins of the continent along with other settlers. The pair find an old training Jaeger run by an AI called Loa (Erica Lindbeck), but using it attracts a kaiju which destroys their home. Together they set out across Australia, finding a young boy called Boy (Ben Diskin) and a whole lot of trouble along the way, some of it from monsters, some of it from a group of survivors led by the ruthless Shane (Andy McPhee) and his lieutenant, Mei (Victoria Grace).
If you have seen the film Pacific Rim, then you have seen the closest thing we currently have to a live-action Voltron movie (aside from the short film starring Timothy Omundson). It’s a film that pretty much exists just to allow scenes of giant robots fighting monsters and, let’s be honest, that’s awesome. Given how much of that particular genre has populated anime in the past, doing an anime adaptation of Pacific Rim seems like it’s just throwing it into a pool of other shows with similar premises to be forgotten. However, this show actually surprised me by focusing more on character development than action, particularly compared to the source material. It also explores “the drift,” the psychic connection between Jaeger pilots, in new and inventive ways.
That’s not to say that the action sequences aren’t good. Since it’s revealed early on that the Jaeger that the Travis siblings find is a training Jaeger with no weapons, the pair are forced to defend themselves with just the giant robot. The new Kaiju designs are excellent, particularly the main one from the season, Copperhead. The show kind of embraces the idea that they are biological weapons by showing that some of them have been designed specifically to counter Jaegers.
However, the absolute best part of the series is Loa. I was literally told to watch this show because of the “snarky AI” and I was not disappointed. Loa is, in some ways, one of the portrayals of AI that I most believe. Loa seems like she is constantly “over this sh*t.” Since it’s clear that, as a training AI, she has dealt with a lot of students, she clearly tries to use her acerbic wit to keep herself distanced from the people in her charge. It’s what happens when a human brain programs a being that is going to constantly outlive and outthink all of the people it deals with. Also, her delivery is just perfect.
Overall, pretty solid series if you like watching monsters get punched by robots. And you should.
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