For as much discussion as there had been over whether or not a Pacific Rim sequel would happen, you'd imagine the film was a huge hit. And while it was by no means a flop for Legendary Pictures, its $411 million worldwide box office gross didn't appear to convince Legendary that a franchise was the next move. Yet, after Pacific Rim performed well in the home video and merchandise markets and a little film called Godzilla blew up the box office in May, a Pacific Rim sequel began to look all the more appealing.
Then finally, after months of speculation, director Guillermo del Toro took to YouTube and announced Pacific Rim 2 is coming in 2017, its current comic book series will continue, and that an animated series based on the property is being developed.
Since then, Del Toro has talked about how Pacific Rim 2 will be "very different" from its predecessor, sharing that much of the PacRim mythology had to be sacraficed in order to "cram everything in the first movie." For instance, one of those missing pieces Del Toro laments most was further explanation of "the Drift" (how two pilots meld together to pilot one Jaegar).
Such extra material has already turned up in the comic series from Travis Beacham, Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero, but there is still much of the PacRim universe waiting to be explored. Which is where the animated series comes in to play as Del Toro told Collider:
[With the show] I really want to explore things that are complimentary to the things that I want to explore in the second movie: drift, what drifting does to you, what is needed to drift, a lot of stuff that I think is important, but also the jaeger technology, the kaijus being evolved, ideas about the precursors—the guys that control the kaijus...
Del Toro confirms they are currently in development for the series, which is expected to air before Pacific Rim 2 releases and will bridge the gap between the two films:
We are right now in the middle of talking and negotiating with a few Japanese companies for the animation. We are talking to a couple of showrunners that have a strong animation background, [we’re] casting the writers room. What’s great is it’s a great set-up and a link between the first movie and the second movie. It really enhances the mythology of the characters; we have cameos of characters from the first movie, but mostly it’s a new set of characters. New jaegers, except for one or two, [and] new kaijus. It’s really fun.
And as for what the animated series will cover:
We’re going for a long arc, so the idea is to show a group of characters—we have pilots, functional jaegers, but we have all these younger characters... We have a lot of leeway in 13 episodes and I wanna make it sort of in the same spirit of Pacific Rim, which is the ideal audience for Pacific Rim was young—very young, 11-year-olds and so forth—but with really beautiful design and stories that make these characters interesting in a way that I found them interesting in, for example, Year Zero, the graphic novel that we did. And I think that’s the basic thrust of the thing.
However, if you're fearful an animated series about giant robots battling giant kaiju could quickly deteriorate into the tired 'monster of the week' trope - don't be. "I don’t want it to be weekly adventures," says Del Toro, "I don’t want it to be like Chapter One is a little action thing and it gets resolved in 40 minutes or an hour and then the next episode, [it’s like] nothing happened. My favorite anime series always have a long arc." Fans should likely expect a series long arc to be explored fully over its 13 episodes, and if that proves successful, Del Toro hints he'd be interested in more seasons.
There's no word yet on what outlet will air the Pacific Rim animated series, or whether it'll have a more traditional weekly airing on television - or if it will take advantage of online streaming services. Were the series to stream online instead of air on a network, it may even release all at once like Netflix's House of Cards, or their newly acquired anime also about giant robots fighting giant alien monsters, Knights of Sidonia.
That said, don't expect to see anything from this animated series anytime soon. Animation is a costly and tedious business, and especially so if Del Toro is as committed to the animation reflecting the intricate and beautiful design of PacRim's world as he appears.
Plus, Del Toro only just revealed he has plans to work on yet another, small budget flick before diving head first into Pacific Rim 2. Then there's also his upcoming film - Crimson Peak - expected in theaters on October 16th, 2015. So clearly, the man has a lot on his plate, but his enthusiasm for the future of Pacific Rim implies only the best is yet to come.
More news on the Pacific Rim animated series as it develops. Pacific Rim 2 will premiere in theaters April 7th, 2017.