Pacific Rim's Most Emotional Line Was Left Untranslated

One of my favourite scenes in Pacific Rim didn't involve robots or monsters. It involved a brief exchange in Japanese. Spoilers follow for Pacific Rim.

I saw Pacific Rim for a second time last weekend. I'd worked my way into an advance press screening a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to come back and see it again alongside the opening weekend crowds. I also hadn't seen it in IMAX, and I wanted the robots to be as humongous as possible. (IMAX did not disappoint in this regard.)

I was surprised to find that as (literally) awesome as the Jaeger vs Kaiju fights remained the second time around, I actually liked all the human drama a lot more than I did the first time through. On my first viewing, I was distracted by how thin the characters were, how Charlie Day shouted all his lines, and how cheesily Top Gun-meets-Evangelion the interpersonal conflicts felt.

The second time around? I bought into all of it, probably because I knew what was coming. I could look past the hurried, broad-strokes character development and focus on how optimistic and surprisingly humanistic the movie is, despite the fact that it's a blockbuster CGI-fest starring a bunch of giant mechs.

I was also struck by how respectful Pacific Rim is of its roots. When Metal Gear maestro Hideo Kojima wrote of it, "Who are you, if you are Japanese and won't watch this?" he was almost surely reacting to the film's underlying respect for its origins. "I hope you would accept this inspirational love letter that had traveled across the Pacific," Kojima wrote.

That respect is summed up in an early scene in the film: Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) introduces fallen hero Raleigh to his eventual co-pilot, Japanese prodigy Mako Mori, played wonderfully by Rinko Kikuchi. Mako sizes Raleigh up and voices her disappointment to Pentecost in Japanese. Sick Burn! But Raleigh grabs her attention and wryly asks if he's not what she was expecting… also in Japanese.

It's a great moment, both for the characters and for the film. As Raleigh surprises Mako by demonstrating that he's taken the time to learn Japanese, director Guillermo Del Toro and screenwriter Travis Beacham do a quick bow to all the Japanese films that came before them. In two lines of dialogue, Pacific Rim conveys that it isn't just another dumbed-down, Westernised take on Japanese Kaiju movies — this film takes its cultural genealogy very seriously. It's a small but lovely show of respect, and a perfect encapsulation of Pacific Rim's welcome global sensibility.

Toward the end of the movie, Pentecost sacrifices himself to give Raleigh and Mako one last chance to get a bomb into the rift, thereby sealing the dimensional gateway and, y'know, cancelling the apocalypse. We knew Pentecost wasn't going to survive the moment he stepped into the Jaeger, but his death was still affecting — surprisingly so, given all the clanging and robot-punching that was going on.

Just before her protector and adoptive father blows himself up, Mako cries one last goodbye into her radio. It's in Japanese, and it's left untranslated and without a subtitle.

Pacific Rim screenwriter Travis Beacham translated the line on Twitter, for those of us who guessed the gist but weren't quite sure of the particulars:

Aw. See you in the drift, Stacker.

Here's some great Mako fanart by Quillery, also via Beacham:

Thanks Robyn!


Comments

    I seen this movie myself and enjoyed it. I felt like a 10 year old again watching Robot Jox for the first time. I am so glad this movie is getting some respectable user scores on Metacritic (7.5/10) and IMDB (8.0/10). It deserves to do well for not selling out to Hollywood, and sticking to its guns.

    Movie was awesome, saw it twice in two days. Just bummed there are no IMAX cinemas in Adelaide any more, bet that would have been awesome.

    i dont know if i feel the same about the whole "he bothered to learn japanese" bit

    for me, when i first saw that scene, i cringed because it was another director trying to protray the "white man knowing japanese, therefore he is awesome to other white men, and at the same time makes the fragile asian woman swoon"

    too 90's esque

    the real homage to japanese roots, was obvious mecha design, which del toro talks about in behind the scenes trailers on youtube, and keeping to the whole apocalypse and self sacrifice theme.

    I particularly liked how they DIDNT kiss at the end.

    Last edited 16/07/13 4:27 pm

      Definitely agree with the "didn't kiss" part being good. I am glad there wasn't a romance subplot with the same typical ending. It was a relationship built out of respect, not love.

      I absolutely loved how they didn't kiss at the end. I was dreading the lead up to that moment but was pleasantly surprised that it didn't happen. It added a whole lot more substance to their relationship (considering they've only known each other a week or two), and just because they were the lead man and woman, didn't mean there had to be a pashing scene.

      In conclusion, you didn't like how their relationship didn't pander to the superficial expectations the hollywood audience had.

        you mean i DID like how it wasnt superficial in the end, right?

          ahh misread. you did like it! my bad, long day at work then phone on the web on the train home.

      Agreed on all points. To add to that, I was surprised by the scene where "Roiley" says we don't have to obey orders (typical western style), and Mako says "its not about obedience...its about respect".

      And that was when I truly thought that this movie was definitely not another dumbed down Hollywood movie.

        exactly my thoughts! i think that plays to the tone of respecting the movie's japanese roots than anything. Because if you watch enough anime, thats what japanese tend to centre around
        sacrifice, love, respect, greater good

    aaaaaaaa

    Last edited 02/04/17 7:22 pm

      that was the point of the movie

      based on your comments, the movie achieved its objectives:
      primary goal was to be a visual treat
      fanservice with the fights, that were epic
      crammed enough development into key characters
      the beauty lies behind what you dont know about them, as the mystery is left to your imagination.
      They arent supposed to explain the kaiju leaders. The scientists were pushing it already by having figured it out that far to begin with. The point of the movie was that earth was saved for now. And they achieved it. The leaders would technically be a new plot for a sequel. but for now this arc has ended

      The triplets and russians were the only dissappointing parts for me too. but they were predictable plot devices used to create the typical "dillema" before the resolution in the climax, to build drama i.e. "oh no, we are screwed, i thought they were going to be badass, but they got wiped out so easily, gg man gg"

      Pacific Rim was the worst movie I've seen since Prometheus or Predators (I can't decide which is worse). EVERY element of the movie was a cliche, like they went through a big list and ticked them all off. And the action was uninspired, gloomy (every fight is at night) and annoying to watch (kaijus sustain no damage from jaegers attacks while punching each other in slow motion while camera moves around schizophrenically, jaegers get killed or nearly die, jaeger uses weapon to win that should have started the fight with. Rinse and repeat.).

      This movie cost $200+ million to make ffs. Get a decent screenplay. Totally inexcusable.

        The "tick the box next to cliche" annoyed me at first, but in the end, I think that's why I liked it. It was a homage. Just as Hellboy was a brilliant adaptation of the comic book, Del Toro did a brilliant adaptation of the anime "robots vs monsters" genre. And for that reason, to me the cliches became features ... including the barely passable script (though the "digital vs analog" comment is still driving me a little insane).

        I'm not rushing out to see it again, but it will make my self when the blu-ray comes out.

        "And the action was uninspired, gloomy (every fight is at night) and annoying to watch (kaijus sustain no damage from jaegers attacks while punching each other in slow motion while camera moves around schizophrenically, jaegers get killed or nearly die, jaeger uses weapon to win that should have started the fight with. Rinse and repeat.)."

        Have you ever watched something of the tokusatsu genre? If not, you basically summed up everything that happens in it.

        Or watched an episode of Power Rangers/Super Sentai?

        You clearly missed the entire point of that aspect of the film. It was an homage, a love letter to the tokusatsu of Japanese media.

          Yes, and they use that sort of crappy writing and action because those shows are cheaply made campy B genre. It's forgivable and can be appealing in that arena, but in a major blockbuster it made for a really shitty film. Love letters should be kept private.

          I think you missed the end of my post: "This movie cost $200+ million to make ffs. Get a decent screenplay. Totally inexcusable."

    Just incidentally, there really should be a SPOILER TAG in the title... just saying, as it gives away the fate of a pivotal character? Just saying. Don't get all pissy at me saying 'well you chose to click', I've seen the movie, but people may click just expecting to read the line and inadvertantly find out the fate of you know who...

    But it's great to find out that's what it was. I figured it was something like that, I heard 'Sensei, ' then other words, I figured it was something emotionally charged.

    I absolutely loved this movie, I didn't find it 'dumb' like others proclaim, I think others are reading sites which try to be more than they really are, striving to be Ebert (who himself often took issue with people who were elitest) but end up being more Perez Hilton. I found the movie to be quite excellent, the dialogue was on par with any Marvel/DC movie, no better or worse, I found the movie had a LOT of heart in it, moreso than either of those two, Marvel or DC and it was what I'd term, a true comicbook movie, despite not having comic origins.

    Absolutely loved Pacific Rim, for me it's the movie of the year, and I adored Man of Steel to a fault.

      for me, until i read this article, i didnt even realise it was an issue

      since the line is a very basic japanese line. Even my beginner japanese language skills mentally translated it on the fly

      so i never noticed that it had been untranslated

      This article having pointed it out, helped me realise its significance tho

    That was one of the things I loved about the movie. I could follow most of the Japanese without needing the subtitles. What really irked me about the movie though was everyone constantly pronouncing Mako's name wrong. Oh, and the hammed up Australian ocker accents...

    Last edited 16/07/13 7:06 pm

      I know right

      they could have at least hired real australians

      its like, half of the hollywood leading actors are all Australians playing americans. But when they have a real aussie character, they cast an american

      hollywoodlogic

        The father character I actually thought was fairly decent with his accent, he didn't strain it too much, it was 'passable' as such, not great, but workable, plus he sort of 'looked' Aussie, if there's any such look.

        The son however, was abysmal. Terrible accent, terrible terrible accent... great character though.

          I don't think either of them could decide if they were Australian, South African or Bob Hoskins.

            Haha. I think the reason the father seemed less offensive in his accent was the fact when he talked, he barely went up in volume, he was very subdued, but the son was ALWAYS YELLING and it was ridiculous lol.

              yes it appears that in order for actors to do an aussie accent
              they go flat in their voice

              just watch the Fifth estate trailer. Benedict cumberbatch maintains a monotone voice throughout the trailer to mimick Julian assange

          Well the father was from the US and the son was from England. Come on Hollywood! You can't walk around without tripping over a real Aussie. Why not use the real deal?

            To be serious, I actually thought that was a role Sam Worthington would've been great in. He may be bland and average when putting on an accent but when acting in his aussie one, he's quite great. See the movie ROGUE for example.

    saw the movie a second time and enjoyed it even more. Some of the amazing scenes were with Mako, like when Mako sliced the kaiju with the sword shouting "for my family'.... got goosebumps. was sooo AMAZING. I heard that in some countires they dubbed the japanese parts into english and it was terrible. I liked it when japanese was left as japanese with just subtitles. The showing the japanese culture of respect was so refreshing. they could easily have shown her to turn around and say stuff you marshall i'm going in jaejar with my new boyfriend. but no del toro had great respect for the material and heritage and didn't do that. just love the movie

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