In a development that fans never saw coming, two big geek-culture movie releases showed off some serious love of the anime genre. But of all the anime references in both Pacific Rim: Uprising and Ready Player One, there's one that stands taller and in more reverence than all the rest: Mobile Suit Gundam!
The Gundam franchise gets a prominent and featured reference in the third acts of both films, and they were both moments that got huge reaction from fans in attendance. Check out the breakdown of each scene, below:
As we previously reported, Pacific Rim: Uprising's Gundam reference comes in the form of a big visual Easter egg. In the film's third act, the heroic young Jaeger pilots of the PPDC come to stop three huge Kaiju from attacking Tokyo and Mt. Fuji. After the Kaiju merge into one gigantic beast, the Jaeger pilots find themselves getting thrashed hard. After three-pilot robot Bracer Phoenix gets taken down, young prodigy pilot Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) is forced to eject in her escape pod. The young girl lands on the streets of Tokyo, where she emerges from the pod in front of a big museum - standing in front of that museum is a massive statue of the Unicorn Gundam suit. The camera lingers on it just long enough to inspire a massive fan cheer.
In the third act of Ready Player One, Parzival / Wade (Tye Sheridan) is leading a massive army of fellow gamers on a campaign on planet Doom, to claim the last of OASIS desinger James Halliday's secret keys. Opposing the coalition of gamers is corporate shark Nolan Sorrento, and "The Sixers," Sorrento's army of corporate-sponsored players. When Parzival and his "High Five" lieutenants get near the castle where Halliday's final key is hidden, Sorrento activates his best power-up: a Mecha-Godzilla avatar.
In order to stop Mecha-Godzilla, the High Five members pull out all the stops, bringing their own powered-up fighters in the form of The Iron Giant, and a Mobile Suit Gundam mech! As we reported in our breakdown of the scene, High Five player Daito (Win Morisaki) activates his MSG power-up, transforming into the RX-78-2 model from the canon, which was piloted by Amuro Ray for much of the series. The sequence is very impressive, as Daito's mech suit puts down some serious damage on Mecha-Godzilla, before the time limit runs out, and Daito transforms back into his usual samurai avatar.
The question a lot of fans have at this point is: are these major references to Mobile Suit Gundam just coincidence, or indication of something more going on behind the scenes in Hollywood right now?
Pacific Rim 2 and Ready Player One were made by two different studios (Universal and Warner Bros., respectively), although writer Zak Penn was involved with both scripts. The Gundam reference in RPO actually came from the source novel, but the PR2 reference was totally original. Even though Zak Penn's version of the Pacific Rim 2 script was eventually revised, the reference to Gundam is something that could've potentially carried over. However, it would be more remarkable if the new screenwriting team came up with it on their own.
All in all, things point to these two films just happening to drop references to Gundam in the same release date stretch - but it could be a coincidence that actually creates some real-life cause and effect.
Anime is poised to have a major mainstream breakout in 2018, and Hollywood won't be far behind that surging trend. Once the powers that be take notice of the major response fans have to finally seeing Gundam in live-action, it could be major motivation for studios to actually look into making an entire Gundam live-action feature! Ready Player One proved just how awesome Gundam-style action looks on a movie screen. More to the point: with films like Ready Player One and Pacific Rim 2 continuing to prove just how lucrative that anime sub-culture can be to the movie biz, there's more reason than ever to launch one of the most popular O.G. series as the flagship icon of a new era of anime-inspired films. But that's just us.
Are you ready for some live-action Gundam? Or do you want Hollywood to stay as far away as possible from anime adaptations? Let us know in the comments!
Both Pacific Rim: Uprising and Ready Player One are now playing in theaters.