Pacific Rim: The death of mechanical design fetishism

Hi this is a Korean in America who looks at movies and TV from the view point of an Asian.

Pacific Rim is awesome movie with giant robots fighting monsters based on Japanese movies and animation.  However, it is evident to a fan of the genre that the director imitated many of the elements of past Japanese Robot movies except for the love of mechanical designs

The common mechanical design for robots is represented by the streamlined combination of steal and simple lines. It is different from the messiness of Steampunk designs which is based on the feeling of iron and the Apple design esthetic based on plastic and glass.
Think about the design of fighter jets, cars, and guns. Do you remember how much they were fetishized by movies during the 80s?

In Japanese, the boom of model kit sales pushed the attractiveness of these mechanical designs to the forefront.
You could not avoid the streamlined steal design esthetic in images of fighter jets, tanks, guns, and robots in Japanese animations,  manga , and Kaiju movies. Basically, the 80s and early 90s was the age of "mechanical porn" in Japan. 
However, you don’t see this being recreated in the recent Hollywood recreation of Japanese properties.


Before you say anything contrary, Transformers is a Japanese property.

 In the Transformer movies, People say that the robot fighting stuff was difficult to follow. While this is true, it is intentional. Michele Bay who fetishizes most of the stuff that a heterosexual males is expected to fetishize is fetishizing kinetic motion. With kinetic motions, the actual movement does not matter and rather gets in the way. It is unlike the mechanical design fetishism which requires clearly identifiable movement to get off on.

Pacific Rim is the same with transformers in the fact that the director has a different fetishism

A fetishism of shadow and light.  You barely see the whole robot in profile. You get more glory shots of the suits the pilots are wearing than the actual giant robots.
This is way most of the robot fights are at nights and the robots are lighted in a Tron-like manner. It is not surprising for a filmmaker to have this fetishism since movies have been called a magic of light and shadows.
Even when you see the robots, the design of them is somewhere vague between Steam punk and streamlined steal designs which lessons the impact of the design. Only the size and weight of the robots really impact the audience.
But, for a fan of the steel mechanical designs, it is a little sad that a movie imitating the golden age movies of mechanical design take a different approach.

What is your favorite mechanical design? 


Post a Comment