Stray “Pacific Rim”-ing

Recently, while rewatching “Pacific Rim” with some folks who had never seen it, there was something that I hadn’t quite registered the first time around.

Initially, something in the movie felt off to me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was; the closest I could get was to say that it was somewhere between an ensemble piece and a coming-of-age story but I couldn’t quite understand whose.

But here’s what I noticed about the introductions of characters:

Raleigh:

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Raleigh is literally the first character we’re introduced to, when he wakes up to a call to arms. The opening sequence follows as he and his brother suit up and take on a kaiju in the middle of the night.

If this were a “Star Trek” or “Fringe” episode, literally all these two would need is a red shirt. From the very first second their peppy, underdog nature just screams “gonna bite it.” And yet, there’s a voiceover he’s giving, so we get the impression that he’s the main dude. And to a certain extent he is, until…

Mako Mori

Hers is the coming-of-age story, we follow her as she goes from assistant to badass Kaiju fighter all in the span of a couple days. And her introduction sort of reflects this, as it plays like some sort of main-character, wind-blowing, dramatized introduction:

 

I mean, she’s even got the blue hair. Clear indicator of an anime protagonist.

It felt to me that it’s almost as if the movie was created to be Mako’s vehicle, but maybe del Toro had to tell the story through the eyes of Raleigh, the “relatable,” every guy (who just happens to be straight, white, male, cis, etc.; #shocker). If that’s what del Toro set out to do, I’m not sure I can get fully on board. Characters are much more interesting to me when they are told through the scope of themselves, not the guys who fall head over heels for them — even if it is interesting to see that played out as a guy falling for a girl.

Both characters have ways to be interesting in their own right, but the movie sets up Mako to be the action star. I can only hope that in “Pacific Rim 2” she gets a full spotlight.

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