Is “Pacific Rim” a story from the Japanese anime “Evangelion”?

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“Pacific Rim” has some of the coolest giant robots ever to appear on screen.

Legendary images

The scene: Tokyo is in ruins. A child is alone in the wreckage and terrified at the approach of a colossal monster. The creature is on an unstoppable rampage and the fate of the child seems sealed. Until a savior intervenes at the last moment.

Fast Forward: The child is introduced to an international military program that builds giant robotic machines to fight marauding alien monsters. But machines must be operated by people with special neurological abilities. Naturally, the child has this power and is chosen to mount humanity’s last defense against the invasion.

If you’ve seen “Pacific Rim” this weekend, you know this story. But it sounds very familiar to you if you’ve also seen “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” the 1995-1996 hit animated series that redefined the giant robot sci-fi genre in Japan. What does Guillermo del Toro’s big-budget sci-fi slugfest owe to this franchise?

In Japan, “Evangelion” is a huge content and commodity industry with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Images of her Eva biomechanical robots are everywhere, from coffee mugs to smartphones and even airplane wraps. This is the story of teenage Shinji Ikari, who is recruited by an organization called NERV to become Eva’s pilot and fight the invading monsters, called Angels.

“Pacific Rim” is of course derived from many Japanese franchises, from “Godzilla” and “Ultraman” to “Mazinger Z” and “Gundam”, which feature mecha (machines) or kaiju (monsters). But when I saw it the other day, I walked away thinking it reflected host Hideki Anno’s story to a striking degree.

Neon Genesis Evangelion
“Neon Genesis Evangelion” is an apocalyptic exploration of adolescent angst.

Gainax

Both feature amorous characters who enter and pilot giant machines in a global war against alien monsters, fighting epic battles in dense urban areas and on the high seas.

The pilots are immersed in an amniotic fluid type liquid to establish a psychic connection with their machines, which are transported into combat by a fleet of planes. The main characters are haunted by a psychological trauma that initially prevents them from defeating the monsters. Check out the fan video below for a comparison of the scenes.

Most Jaegers, as the giant robots of “Pacific Rim” are called, look much more like the bulky samurai-style mecha “Gundam” than they do the slender biomechanical Evas; pilots Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) also wield a giant sword with their mecha Gipsy Danger, another echo of Gundam.

Heartbreaking tribute
But where “Evangelion” and its 1997 film “The End of Evangelion” are convoluted existential psychodramas wrapped in a “Power Rangers” https://www.cnet.com/ “Super Sentai” format and sprinkled with Christian symbolism and father-his drama, “Pacific Rim” is truly a shocking and awe-inspiring tribute to the mechas and monsters of the man in the rubber suit. It doesn’t ask your brain to participate.

Shot in Toronto, where part of Elizabeth Street behind Toronto City Hall has been transformed to resemble Tokyo, “Pacific Rim” pays special attention to visual detail. It features spectacularly designed mechas, captivating monster fight scenes and sets that evoke Alaska, Hong Kong and Japan.

“I felt there was a chance to do something fresh, something new that at the same time was aware of the legacy, but not a pastiche or a tribute or one of the biggest hits of all” , Del Toro told the LA Times last year. “One of the first things I did was make a point of not checking any old movies or other references. Like starting over.”

Strong cyberpunk aesthetic
“I liked Evangelion a lot, but I actually wrote most of Pacific Rim before I saw it,” screenwriter Travis Beacham said on Twitter.

While some “Evangelion” fans might dispute the similarities between the two, “Pacific Rim” ultimately bills itself as its own film despite the abundance of ideas it pulls from the genre. He’s much more fascinated by kaiju and their gooey anatomy, he emphasizes a “Top Gun” style pilot rivalry, and he has a strong cyberpunk aesthetic. It references “Blade Runner” in a subplot, save for dozens of other franchises that are part of the story’s DNA.

“Pacific Rim” has yet to open in Japan, but otaku’s early reviews look positive. Metal Gear video game creator Hideo Kojima cheered it up on Twitter, even suggesting it’s unpatriotic not to like it. After all, he has some of the coolest giant robots ever to appear on screen.



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