‚Pacific Rim‘ (2013) vs ‚Neon Genesis Evangelion‘ (1995) – comparison and discussion
After watching the first trailer of ‚Pacific Rim‘ I really had my doubts and asked myself if it was inspired by my all-time-favourite Neon Genesis Evangelion. There is this catchphrase (to defeat monsters we created monsters), some similar designs and it left me a bit speechless (but only a bit). When the first artworks for a Neon Genesis Evangelion Live Action Adaption went online, I was soooo eager to see this movie. Unfortunately the project was reported as on ice very soon. So I was a bit sceptical that Guillermo del Toros ‚Pacific Rim‘ would now be the first mecha live action adaption so far (Transformers doesn’t count). Well … at least it’s a mecha-fans project and Guillermo del Toro is an awesome filmmaker. After seeing ‚Pacific Rim‘ I really have to admit that ‚Pacific Rim‘ is a good (but not overwhelmingly good) movie and it really isn’t just a copy of common mecha anime. Of course it has its references in older mecha anime and not just in the relatively ’new‘ NGE. But NGE is the mecha anime I know pretty much about. So let’s have a closer look at the details and some of the similarities to Neon Genesis Evangelion. (Be aware: this article contains SPOILERS! Just go watch it first …) btw: image sources available via mouse over
Technology and Plausibility
In this category ‚Pacific Rim‘ is the loser. Why you ask? The technological aspects of ‚Pacific Rim‘ doesn’t really make sense. Well … we are talking about sci-fi-movies, so ‚doesn’t make sense‘ seems to be a joke. 😉 So lets say: it makes less sense than ‚Neon Genesis Evangelion‘ (NGE). Let me give you some examples. First: synchronization. In ‚Pacific Rim‘ (PR) lots of technological aspects are hidden by pseudo-awesome terms like drift. We know that its the process of neural synchronization of the 2 pilots and the machine. If they loose their synch, they cannot handle the machine well. Synchronization of two minds … difficult. The brain activity is an endless field of research and how it is achieved to bring back memories as pictures is an unanswered question. So this is pure fiction and fantasy which serves the story but seems to be impossible. Mostly the point in which the pilots share their memories during the so-called drift. The next aspect is a more obvious one. Do they really need a neural synchronization when they are mapping their movements mechanical? Think about it … the pilots were wearing some exoskeletons and literally moved their legs and arms which is the actual movement of the Jaeger then. So its all mechanical and the term of synchronization is just a nice gimmick to add some drama to the dynamics and relationship of two pilots. In NGE the synchronization between pilot and machine is neural. Which means the pilot is thinking about movements which were mapped to the machine. The pilot isn’t actually moving – just sitting in the machine. It works because of a so-called Brain Computer Interface (BCI) which exists in real life too. Believe me. I used to write my bachelor thesis about one. (But BCIs aren’t working for everyone and yet not so powerful as displayed in NGE.) The term synchronization is used too. If the pilot is very depressed or in bad physical conitions (pain, sickness), the synchronization is low and the machine possibly wouldn’t move. Yeah, this could happen to you and your real-life BCI too because of a lack of concentration.
Another topic is the energy supply for the machine. In PR its revealed that jaeger run with nuclear reactor – if you know NGE, you probably remember and smile because of the awesome episode with Jet Alone. 😉 Well I wouldn’t like the idea to walk around with nuclear reactors in my bag if I have to fight with a huge monster. But … somehow …. it’s an explanation for an appropriate energy supply. I can’t help it but liked the NGE solution more. Though the enemies (‚angels‘) are always heading to the city Neo Tokyo, the machines (‚EVAs‘) were sent from the headquarter below to the surface and a plug (!) provides energy supply. If they have to move or loose the plug during the fight, they only have some minutes of energy left. ‚How uncool‘ you think? Well … fighting with a nuclear reactor on my back is a bit dangerous, isn’t it?
Finally we can say that PR hides lots of technological aspects with nice names which finally serves the dramatic events. While the aspects of NGE were well elaborated – from BCI to suits with smart functions over systems like MAGI. But to be fair I have to admit NGE is only capable of so much explanation because it’s a tv-show with over 20 episodes. Even the rebuild-movies will be 4 and Pacific Rim is just one. Oh and NGE really needs explanation … particularly for the deep storyline.
PR vs NGE – 0:1
What makes PR unique ist that it tells the end of the aera. At the beginning the audience is shown a short summary of the beginning of the kaijuu-attacks and the start of the jaeger program as well as it’s nearby end. This makes it possible to tell the story of a glorious comeback and the end of the jaeger (and kaijuu) aera. Guillermo del Toro did a very good job to put the events and story of so many years in just one movie!
The Storytelling of NGE is too complex and it simply cannot be compressed to just one movie. If someone would ever try lots of the unique elements will be lost and it possibly wouldn’t be as stunning as the anime or the rebuild movies. Just think about all the unique ‚angels‘ and side-stories? Impossible. In my opinion the story of NGE is way more interesting. It deals with angels (invaders) that are completely different from each other. One ist a giant geometric laser shooting floating object, the next is simply a monster, another is more like a virus or even attacks as in human form. Another aspect are the side-stories, e.g. of Reis origin or Misatos past or the background storys. NGE is simply more. In every definition of the term. From the question what the EVAs really are or even why the angels attack Neo Tokyo. But its again a problem of too much story. Furthermore NGE is possibly not such an audience-favourite. It deals with teenage angst, loneliness and world hatred and has some really mind-blowing but also some really really depressing moments. So even if I love this tv-show and think it’s intelligent, many-sided and mind-blowing I have to admit it’s not the material for just one movie and not materical for every viewer, so in this category PR wins. … omg I said it. I guess I have to cry now.
1st row: kaijuu; 2nd row: several angels from NGE
The story about the invaders is really different – it’s useless to name a winner or a loser. In my opinion the invaders (so-called ‚angels‘) are more interesting, because they come in different formes each time. But this comes with a difficult backgroundstory which leaves a bitter taste. It really is an uncomfortable truth in NGE why they attack, why they are called angels and so on. In PR we find a completely different story which has a twist too. In my case … it leaves me cold. The whole story of the breach is a bit to simple for me. It’s stuff we know from thousands of sci-fi-movies. Only the twist saves the idea of the breach for me. Contrary the black market for kaijuu organs is a really unique idea in my opinion. So no winner and no loser in this category.
There is just one thing I can’t get out of my mind: blue blood. In PR the kaijuu have literally blue blood which is like acid and causes environmental pollution. I see a little (maybe wanted?) cross reference to NGE. In the tv-show the angels have red blood but the team that fights the angels uses a so-called blood-type to distinguish between angels, humans and other forms (oh yes there are other forms). Its not a biological pattern, but wavelength pattern. Humans have blood-type red (surprise!?) and angels have blood-type … what do you think, eh? Blue of course. 🙂 This is how you can do a pun or reference without copying. Niiiceee. 😀
There are some more similarities e.g. the interval of the next kaijuu attacks in PR as well as angel attacks in NGE become smaller and smaller. Finally they are attacking again so soon that the machines are still out of order and not ready for a next fight.
Neither PR or NGE have a design (speaking about settings not about mechas) I would choose as my favourite solution. I adore the more technical, complicated and religious nature of NGE as well as the many-sided ‚angel‘ design. In PR I just have to admit that the visualisation was awesome. To see mecha come to life in an action movie is great and I’m glad that so many people loved the film. Only the 3D effects were really weak at some points (hello ghost images!). So in this category I have – again – no winner or loser.
Some small similarities can be observed, e.g. the shatterdome/headquarter of PR vs. the geofront and headquarter of NGE. Again the design is way more military and technical as in PR – believe it or not. Nevertheless the setting of the shatterdome looks more like fight. Just remember the rooms of the pilots e.g. In general PR provides images and settings which looks for me like a picture I already saw in NGE. I guess it’s a question of point of view. If you saw certain other (older) mecha anime first you probably had the same feeling.
In my opintion the characters of PR were really one-sided. The main characters were hurt, missunderstood and had to be very brave to overcome a tradegy of the past (Raleigh, Mako, …). The other persons only had one characteristic. The researchers were geeky, the arrogant guy was arrogant and Ron Perlman was like he used to be. There is pretty few development. While the characters and their past in NGE are well developped and profound. Furthermore you have different stories and different characters. There is the shy mysterious girl, the depressed boy, the geek, the rowdy, the evil father figure, the female researcher, the untidy beer-drinking woman who has to carry lots of responsibility (who could that be 😉 ) and so on … and all of them have some issues, problems, concerns and hidden faces. So this point goes to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
There is just one thing I have to mention. It’s more the visual than the story or characters that remembered me of NGE here … well Stacker is a person I like way more than Gendou Ikari but Makos style looks a bit like Reis. Her close relationship to Stacker is another topic …
So … after this little analysis the score is 1:2 for NGE in my opinion. What would be your personal score?
Did you noticed some elements I missed? Let me know and leave some comments! What was your opinion about similarities to mecha anime or especially to the relatevily new NGE? Did you enjoy ‚Pacific Rim‘?
and by the way …