Pacific Rim: What Makes a Mecha? | NowThis Nerd

Hi everyone, my name is Charlie, most people call me 'Moose,' and I’m the writer for NowThis Nerd I’m usually just offscreen over there, cackling at Kya’s jokes, [OFFSCREEN CACKLING] There we go

There's the laugh I feel good now but I’m coming out from behind the camera, because today I want to talk some anime ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ has me thinking about how Guillermo del Toro– how ACADEMY AWARD WINNER Guillermo del Toro’s monster-fighting franchise owes a huge debt to Japan You’ve got the kaiju, a not-even-subtle shout out to the giant monster genre of the same name

And, of course, the mighty Jaegers, which pay homage to one of the country’s coolest cultural exports: Mecha The series isn’t shy about its influences, but mecha is a pretty specific subcategory, and today, I want to see if the Jaegers really fit the bill We’ll see how the standards came to be, whether the Jaegers stack up, and give a rundown on What Makes a Mecha? ‘Mecha’ derives from ‘mechanical’ In Japan, it’s used as a catch-all term for computers, cars, or any kind of machinery really But in English-speaking countries, we use ‘mecha’ to refer to the genre they call ‘giant robot’ or ‘robot anime,’ or 'robot manga,' depending on the medium

Now, categories are fluid, and there aren’t really concrete lines, but as the art form developed, mecha evolved some distinct traits that set it apart from other genres First and foremost, a mecha lacks Autonomy When Osamu Tezuka's ‘Astro Boy’ aired on January 1st, 1963, it gave birth to an industry overnight The first and most influential TV anime ever starred a robot, and looking back, we can already see some primordial mecha tropes start to take shape, like how Astro reconfigures his body into devastating weaponry, and by that, I mean guns come out of his butt, Now! the same way later mecha transform to unleash the fury Macross! But there’s still that pesky problem of free will He’s sentient, intelligent, he can feel, he can think, he can love, just like the Transformers, or the Iron Giant

Hogarth Mechas, on the other hand, are weapons, they’re tools of war You wouldn’t expect your AC-130 gunship to have hopes and dreams But the line can be blurry sometimes, like the Evas in 'Evangelion' Without revealing the secret sauce and spoiling the mind-bending saga, let’s just say there’s a lot going on under the hood

But, just like there’s nothing in the book that says a dog can’t play basketball, He's right! Ain't no rule says the dog can't play basketball! there’s no rule that your mecha has to be metal That does make controlling them a little trickier, though, it takes more than a joystick and throttle The organic EVAs have a hole in their spine, and once the pilots are plugged in, they’re immersed in a breathable liquid that links their brain to the unit for an unparalleled level of control… most of the time, anyway In ‘Pacific Rim,’ it takes two pilots Drifting their minds together to harness the power of a Jaeger, because a single person doesn't have the neural capacity It’s a mark in favor of their mech-dom, but by that criteria, couldn’t you also say that Iron Man’s armor technically counts as a mech? Well sorry, Tony

Your suit might be a mindless war machine, but it fails the test because it’s just too shrimpy When it comes to mecha, Size Matters As a doppelganger of his creator’s dead son, Astro Boy is locked forever in the purgatory of eternal pre-pubescence In other words, he’s too short to ride the mecha-coaster The kid is too little! Family fun? Child too small! But hot on Astro’s rocket heels came a robot called ‘Tetsujin 28,’ better known in America as ‘Gigantor’ Gigantor! Gigantor! He’s a repurposed doomsday weapon, who’s literally at the whim of a ten-year-old, and at thirty feet tall, he’s definitely no slouch

His creator followed up with a similar show for live-action TV, in Japan, it was called ‘Giant Robo,’ and I’m torn as to whether it sounds cooler than ‘Gigantor’ 'Giant Robo' 'Gigantor

' 'Giant ROBO' 'GIGANTOR' I dunno folks You tell me

Leave a comment Even better,when 'Giant ‘Robo’ came to America, it was called: You ready? ‘Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot’ Which takes the cake as far as I'm concerned Whatever the hell you want to call him, Robo introduced mecha to televised tokusatsu, a Japanese term for shows or movies with lots of special effects Throw in some superheroes and a dash of kaiju from series like ‘Ultraman,’ and you’ve got the great grandaddy of super sentai, A

KA ‘Power Rangers’ Speaking of which, The OG

Megazord was about 130 feet tall, just a little shorter than Voltron, but a class above your average Gundam That’s still pretty small in the scheme of things, he’s half as big as the biggest Evas, and in ‘Gurren Lagann,’ they’ve got mechs vast enough to fling galaxies at each other Mecha come in any size you want, as long as it’s huge As for Jaegers, Gipsy Danger maxes out at 288 feet, Which is 3ft taller than the Flatiron Building That sure sounds like a mecha to me

A size advantage never hurts when cancelling the apocalypse, No pulse! and the PPDC have spared no steel in defense of humanity They’re the finest fightin’ corp mankind could hope for, which brings us to the last essential element of mecha: The Military As nerds, we have to nitpick here: Gigantor and Giant Robo aren’t true mechs because they were remote controlled, they were essentially drones in the hands of children A pilot has to be physically present inside the apparatus, to be a mech They are the ultimate fusion of man and machine Which brings us to 'Mazinger Z,' the first real mech

The titular titan was made of Japanium, a metal mined from an ancient meteor that crashed into Mt Fuji, and yet more evidence for the theory that ‘Black Panther’ is secretly anime I mean who wore it better, folks? Vegeta, Michael B Jordan, OR the New Day? I personally think the New Day rocks More importantly, Mazinger has a cockpit, his pilot drives a little hovercraft right into his head

The creator was inspired after he got stuck and traffic and wondered: What if, instead of sitting in a car, I was behind the wheel of a 60 foot tall bipedal robot? Earlier robots were toys, but Mazinger was a vehicle You can see it in his eyes Literally They’re blank and de-humanized compared to older designs with cartoony black pupils, but Mazinger still had a lot of personality, and Japanese fans were interested in something a little more serious Two big sci-fi imports influenced Japan in the ‘60s and ‘70s: Robert Heinlein’s novel ‘Starship Troopers,’ which helped introduce the concept of space marines in mass-produced powered armor, and, of all things, ‘Thunderbirds,’ the British puppet show about a family of adventurers with a fleet of specialized vehicles

Basically, think ‘Team America,’ just with less nudity and no Matt Damon It seems unlikely, but those shitty marionettes and their transforming conveyances with cool code names, set the stage for the most iconic mecha of all: ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ Creator Yoshiyuki Tomino wanted to give fans the hard-sci action they craved His mechs break down, Their guns jam, or run out ammo, and their tech is based in semi-plausible science More importantly, they’re part of a military force, they’re trained pilots using specialized tech, and their opponents aren’t monsters or aliens– they’re the people on the other side

'Gundam' wasn’t a big hit when it first aired, but a theatrical release help fuel its rise, and once the model kits and toys hit the market, WOOF! I want 'em I want many of them The robo-military-industrial complex allowed for all kinds of awesome designs and cool accessories, and soon, the toys became the driving force behind a ton of new anime and, later, video games, We don't really get into the games too much here, but I have to shout out my absolute favorite mech of all time, Metal Gear REX I love you baby Liguid wasn't kind enough to you

I wish you all the best Thanks to all that sweet merch money, 'Gundam' was able to get away with complex stories and deep characterization, as long as they kept pumping out toyetic new mechs to make a buck How toyetic can you get?! Toyetic is a word created by marketing people It means an object or device that could easily become a mass-produced toy It’s a win-win for everyone, You can have your trippy, philosophical Gainax mindfreaks, if that’s your thing, and if not, then you can just bury yourself in awesome toys and models and kits and everything

The world of 'Pacific Rim' embraces the kaiju silliness of tokusatsu shows, with the hardline military approach of ‘Macross’ and ‘Gundam,’ to create a new evolution of the mecha tradition Jaegers are mechs in every sense of the word, and their entire universe is a loving tribute to the decades of Japanese culture that paved the way Hey everyone, thanks so much for watching

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.