Monday, March 24, 2014


Well before the film's release, I was trying to figure out whether or not I like the designs of the "Jaegers" featured in Guillermo del Toro's giant robot/kaiju slugfest, Pacific Rim. My first impression was that they appeared clunky and a bit awkward. Maybe I was missing the sleek, organic silhouettes of the Evas (Neon Genesis Evangeleon), or deep negative spaces and bloated proportions of a Megadeus (Big O). Closer inspection of he recently released of teaser "blueprints" of the Jaegers convinced me that a lot of love went into the designs, and that a vein of practicality and functionality seems to drive the details.

Take, for example, the enclosed joints of the Cherno Alpha, and how tightly the details were integrated into the overall design, especially the torso. Its monolithic upper body and hammer-like crown gives it a solid appearance, made it at least appear to be capable of withstanding a heavy blow from an opponent without losing its head.

Similarly, Gypsy Danger's short neck, long legs and high, broad-shouldered torso gave it the look of a spry running back. The exposed hip joints also suggest that this is a robot with a considerable amount of agility, which comes with sacrificing a bit of armor here and there.

Coyote Danger, the Jaeger from Japan, ironically has many of the design elements from my favorite mecha designs. It's lanky, narrow waist and almost insect-like frame looked a bit fragile. Its relatively small head and the lack of an immediately discernible face added a bit of mystery to the design while retaining just enough humanity for us to know it's a hero and a defender. Coyote Danger was probably the most understated of the Jaeger designs, being comprised of simple shapes that balance perfectly over its rail-thin legs. It stood with the unwavering pride and courage of a man without fear.

Pacific Rim turned out to be a huge disappointment. I fell for the pre-release hype that sold it as an "homage" to the Japanese giant robot and kaiju genres. It was more of a big-budget cartoon dumbed-down for general audiences. Great CG effects, but I was expecting a lot more story and soul.

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