Pacific Rim: Uprising just blasted its way into theatres to deliver all of the giant robot fistfights any young moviegoer would desire. The raucous sequel extends the saga that began with Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, pitting humanity – with a boost from the mechs of the Jaeger program – against the invading Kaiju from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
Pacific Rim is perhaps the most ambitious mecha franchise ever conceived (at least in terms of the initial production budget), but it’s hardly the first apocalyptic epic about giant robots punching giant monsters. Mechs are a well-established science fiction trope, and while incarnations like Voltron have become popular in North America, the best mecha fiction tends to come from Japan, which pioneered the genre and has continued to innovate for decades. Pacific Rim was a loving homage to mechs and monsters that proudly displayed its creator’s many influences. Uprising lacks Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning vision, but it might be a purer, pulpier distillation of the source material in all of its gravity-defying absurdity.
With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to get back to basics. In honor of Pacific Rim: Uprising, here are eight formative Japanese mecha series that made the genre what it is today:
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