Featured Writer R.J. Sills upgrades his artillery in this week’s #TokuTuesday!
So an article that is not about Power Rangers? You read right! For those who wonder how the movie Pacific Rim is considered Tokusatsu, a quick definition is in order: Tokusatsu is any live action film or television show that uses a great amount of special effects. Giant robots and monsters? Most likely Tokusatsu. This is mostly limited to Japan, as Toku is hugely popular there; however, there a few times that other countries have taken a shot at Toku. Pacific Rim is an example of this.
Director Guillermo del Toro decided to make a movie that was not a remake or reboot of any previous franchise, but he wanted to do something that reminded him of his time as a kid watching various animes and toku with giant robots defeating giant monsters. It actually took him a few years to get it all together and how he liked it. Did all this hard work turn into one of the greatest films ever? We shall find out!
As the movie begins, it shows two words: “Kaiju” and “Jaeger.” Kaiju is a Japanese term for giant beast. Jaeger is a German term for hunter. We are introduced to an attack on San Francisco by a giant monster. After massive destruction, it was defeated, but then more started coming. The governments of the world decided to cast aside all rivalries to combat this threat by creating new giant robots to fight these creatures. At first it seemed too much for one pilot, so a two pilot system was introduced. Using a neural handshake, the two pilots would link and share memories and thoughts, allowing better control of the Jaegers.
The story focuses on pilot Raleigh Becket and the American Jaeger, Gypsy Danger. After the defeat of a Kaiju and loss of his older brother Yancy, Raleigh dropped off the grid for a few years, haunted by demons from his past. During this time, the Jaeger program was slowly shut down in favor of a new defense made by the world’s governments. Marshall Stacker Pentecost has assembled the last four Jaegers in a final effort to close the portal through which all of these monsters have come. Raleigh teams up with Pentecost’s apprentice Mako Mori, along with the rebuilt Gypsy Danger, to save the world from total destruction.
What happens? Well, you really need to see it for yourself. In one of the few movies nowadays that is not rebooted or continuing an existing franchise, del Toro does an excellent job at making this new world of robots and monsters seem real. The characters and subplots are a bit lacking at times, but if you want to just sit back and watch stuff get blown up and giant aliens get knocked in the face with a cargo ship, then this is your movie. For those of you who are into a lot of Toku like I am and have heard of Kamen Rider, there is a small, possibly unintentional, reference in the beginning of the film. I personally enjoyed the entire movie, from the first time I saw it in theaters last year to now. A sequel has already been greenlit and is in development at the moment.
The film has been out on DVD for awhile now, so you can find it wherever you usually buy movies, and I must recommend the Two-Disc Special Edition available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. All of the special and behind the scenes features are great to watch, especially the director’s commentary by the man himself. Trust me, you do not want to skip this great original chapter in American Tokusatsu!
Here’s lots of other things you can also do: