- “For my family!“
This week, we’re featuring Pacific Rim’s Mako Mori, the Mecha heroine of Guillermo Del Toro’s film whose sequel was recently announced to be rushed into production as the big Monster craze FINALLY hits its stride. The sequel is set to follow Mako, played by Rinko Kikuchi, and her teammate Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) after the events of the first film. Here’s a run down of what makes Mako Mori an awesome Sci-Fi woman and why we can’t wait to see more of her in the future.
History: Mako Mori has one of the most tragic hero origin stories in Sci-Fi. In fact, it’s a background that would typically be given to a male character. She doesn’t function as a princess who happens to have skills the hero needs or just something for him to lose. Mori’s childhood experience is at the heart of the movie. The scene that shows how she lost her family when she was just a little girl and had to encounter the monstrous Kaiju who took them away, is one of the most stand out scenes of the movie. It informed her drive to avenge her family and protect the human race. She was saved by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and his partner Tamsin Sevier who inspired her to be a Jaeger pilot someday.
Jaeger Geek: Growing up with Pentecost, who adopted her, Mako developed a passion for knowing how Jaegers work. When she was a kid, her adoptive father explained to her how is it crucial that team members be drift compatible and takes her to meet his retired partner. The two show her that individual traits need to balance out in order for a team to successfully bond neurally and control the various mechanisms of the Jaeger while fighting Kaiju. When she gets older, she is trained under the tutelage of Pentecost and becomes a ranger with an emphasis on the engineering of the Jaegers. She even oversees the refurbishment of the legendary Gispy Danger.
Mad Skills: While in the Jaeger program, Mako developed keen skills for mechanics and engineering. Her score in the Jaeger simulator is 51 drops and 51 kills which makes her one of Pentecost’s brightest. From an early age he also taught her hand to hand and close quarters combat in order to defend herself. However since her drive was clouded by desire for revenge, her sensei felt she wasn’t battle ready for her safety. She does however, have a big role in the Jaeger program as her knowledge of the initiative’s history is invaluable. Mako played a huge role in taking Gispy Danger out of retirement when the Kaiju threat was threatening the apocalypse. She made sure to outfit in it’s old school glory refitted with an iron hull, new weapons and had it running on two nuclear reactors. She also was the one to compile the list of all the possible candidates to team up with Gipsy’s O.G. Pilot Raleigh Becket–even though she was the best option.
More than just a pretty face: Played by the talented Rinko Kikuchi whose beauty isn’t over-sexualized in this, we get a kick-ass lady no matter what. She wears the same uniform as all the pilots and holds rank without any special privileges because she is a girl or because she’s Pentecost’s kid. Rinko also imbued her with personality and made her all at once a smart-ass, intelligent, strong and innocent hero. In her hand to hand combat scene with Raleigh, she put her challenger in his place. Even when she interacted with both Pentecost and Raleigh, Mako unwaveringly stood up for herself and her abilities with blunt logic. She earns her position to be Raleigh’s partner and pilot Gipsy Danger. Having an actress who can play all those dynamics as strongly as any other lead makes for a new legion of heroes where gender doesn’t matter.
Hero Arc: Mako’s obstacle to becoming Gipsy Danger’s pilot was never her gender being stacked against her skills. Like most headstrong heroes, she had to learn to put aside her anger toward her past in order to focus on using her strengths to ensure the human race had a future. Her doubts in Raleigh’s ability to handle fighting Kaiju reflect this, as he too lost his family. Because they are both Battle Born they are naturally the best match for Drift Compatibility. Their abilities balance each other out, she is a play it by the books kind of fighter and he’s an intuitive risk taker. Combined with Gipsy Danger, the two created one of the best Sci-Fi teams on screen when they canceled the apocalypse in Del Toro’s Pacific Rim.
Mako Mori also most definitely paved the way for another Mecha heroine, Edge of Tomorrow’s Rita Vrataski who will be featured here soon. If you’ve got cool suggestions for characters in Mecha Sci-Fi who have come before Mako and Rita, feel free to drop them in the comment box below.
‘Til next week!