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Pacific Rim vs. Evangelion

Posted by godaironin on July 24, 2013 at 6:10 PM

I saw Pacific Rim two weeks ago and I am still floored. It's an incredible film, managing to capture the inspiration of Japanese Tokusatsus while fusing it with Western blockbuster syle. It's a powerful work, capturing you quickly and making you really cheer for the characters on-screen. There's a certain amount of bad-asssery in PR that you don't seen in the recent set of comic-book based tentpole films (all of which to me have a certain amount of sameness to them), and while, yes, the film has big flaws that certain attitude made watching PR such an enjoyable experience.

A lot has been made of comparison between Pacific Rim and Evangelion, both in style and substance. It's not unheard of for Hollywood to "iift" movie concepts from scrips that get shuttled around and EVA went through a period before the Rebuild films where AD Vision was shopping for a studio to make a live-action version. Wheither or not Warner Brothers decided to copy part of EVA, or if Mr. Del Toro did it himself isn't going to be known but there's just enough between the two to invite serious comparisons.

The basic premise between the films is roughtly the same. Both deal with apocalyptic conflicts between men and gigantic meta-creatures that can't be defeated by convention means. Both involve an para-military organization to operate their mecha units from a fortress city.  The units themeslves invite direct comparisons, as Pacific Rim's Jaegars require a mental link to effectively pilot, and pilots function out of individualized capsules and wear specialized pressure suits for the job. As Jaegar's are too large for an individual pilot to contorl, two pilots sync to merge together with themselves and with the mecha as a fighting team. 

There's less similiarities with the characters, although there's certainly some strong "hints" at EVA there too. Mako Mori is a fusion of Rei, Asuka, and Misato: she has Misato's backstory (parents killed by monsters), she's raised by the commander in a manner that resembles Rei's relationship with Gendo, and fights both inside and outside the Jagear with a high degree of proficiency (resembling Asuka) but also with a deep personal weakness (also like Asuka). Certainly Del Toro gave Mako-chan short-cropped hair with blue highlights as a shoutout to EVA's Rei (not to mention her very gentle voice and manner). That Mako-chan's voice actor in the Japanese dub is none other than Megumi Hayashibara certainly makes the connection even more clear.

Pacific Rim differs from Evangelion however in having a more light and positive tone. The film looked like EVA but at times it felt more like another legendary giant mecha show from Studio GAINAX: Gurren Lagann. Certainly Stacker Pentecost borrowed all sorts of attitude from Lord Kamina, and the "Reach for the Heavens", kick-ass, oozing masculanity of the mechas comes right out of GL.

There's been complaints that it's somehow wrong to for Hollywood to steal stuff from EVA and make its own version of it but I don't think there's real faut for doing so as long as it's not outright infringement. Certainly anyone who likes PR (and it has a lot of solid fans here despite disappointing box office in America) and who doesn't yet know about EVA is going to find their way to Evangelion through this film and that can't be a bad thing. Also, while EVA itself is a masterpiece it's fun to see some of the classic tropes get repeated in a fun, more lighthearted way. 

Would Pacific Rim's release prevent EVA from itself becoming a film, on the basis of "it's been done already?" I somehow don' t think that would stop Hollywood from releasing an EVA film or series of films in the future as long as it thinks there's money to be made on something that's still very fresh to North American audiences.

I actually don't mind that there's not a live action EVA film, as what Evangelion does is so unique I have trouble at times picturing it as a non-animated work. Some things may be better left within anime, and EVA still continues with the Rebuild films to push the envelope of what anime can do further and further. In the meantime I now have another great work that I can enjoy right along with EVA, and that is just fine with me.


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1 Comment

Reply John
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