Book Review: Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero

It’s no secret what a huge fan I am of Pacific Rim. So when I saw Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero (graphic novel 112 pages) in the house of books yesterday, I had to pick it up. This was a great addition to the Pacific Rim world-building and a good graphic novel that I’m glad I purchased.

Now, normally, I don’t actually read introduction sections in graphic novels and normally I am not a huge fan of world-building outside of movies. But this graphic novel is a very accurate representation of a way to make world-building outside a movie much richer. Reading this graphic novel didn’t take anything way from the movie experience for me, nor did it contradict the events depicted in the movie. This graphic novel is definitely value-added to the creative genius and the world-building in Pacific Rim.

There were a couple of sections that really stuck out with me, one from the Introduction section on page 4: “The realization that the Jaeger, in fact, needed not just one but two pilots changed everything. The whole thematic identity began to drift into focus and the story very briskly started pulling itself together. Suddenly, human beings mattered in those epic battles. Baggage mattered. Relationships mattered. Humanity quite literally drove the machines, and it was the difference between winning and losing. There was something worth fighting for. There was the threat of loss and the prospect of redemption. There was a knight in the suit of armor.”

I think this is one of the reasons why I enjoyed Pacific Rim so much – it’s not the movie about giant mechs fighting giant monsters that I originally thought it was going to be. In fact, when I first started seeing previews for this movie, I didn’t want to see it because it looked like a redone plot with stereotypical characters and mindless action. It wasn’t even my idea to go see it in the theater – it was Adventure Buddy’s idea. Since I really enjoyed spending time with Adventure Buddy, I figured I could go see anything. I’m very, very glad I did because this movie became one of my favorite for 2013. The movie wasn’t about the epic battles at all, even though it felt like it was. The movie was about the people who made the mechs work. It was about what it means to be human, what it means to keep fighting, even when the odds feel insurmountable.

Each character in this story was a unique and different character. Each had their own past, their own difficulties, and their own motivations. While at first glance, some of the dialogue was fairly unspectacular, if you look at real life conversations, sometimes those are a lot less spectacular. The relationships between each character were varied and dynamic, and none of them were perfect. The story and world both felt real and gritty, which really worked for me. I’ve seen a lot of people complain about the accents used throughout the movie, but I’d have to say that maybe the accent was wonky because language is a real, living thing, and it changes frequently. But this graphic novel definitely highlighted the relationships amongst the characters in the movie and it added a lot of depth to the story.

There was one section in this graphic novel that really hit close to home and hurt my heart something fierce. On page 97, Pentecost meets with Raleigh and Yance after they got into trouble with a bar room brawl: “The Jaeger isn’t what makes you feel three hundred feet tall. It’s in the bond. You turn away from it and I promise you the world will be a darker place. And you’ll always wonder if together you could’ve made a difference.” And this part really sucked for me because I’m pretty sure that Adventure Buddy and I were/are close enough so that we would have been drift compatible, if that was a real thing. I can’t imagine something that would give me more purpose and drive in my life than spending all of my time training and preparing to fight giant monsters in a mechanized, gigantic suit of armor with Adventure Buddy. That’s pretty much the most awesome thing I can think of. And Pentecost is completely correct about how much darker the world is when you keep wondering if you could have made a difference if you could only work together.

It’s pretty rare that a graphic novel is able to mess with me as much as this one did. I think it’s a combination of how human the stories in this graphic novel are as well as how closely tied I am to this movie and world-building because of Adventure Buddy. The introduction in this graphic novel wasn’t kidding when it said the world is created based on relationships, and this graphic novel included stories about every type of human relationship I can think of and it really moved me.

Overall, this graphic novel is an easy four on my rating scale. I’m glad I own it and I’m likely to reread it multiple times, even though it’s likely to continue to mess with my emotions.

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About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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