The Black certainly took a break for a long while but at long last we got season 2. I was pretty much blown away by how good season 1 was. It had a great premise and really executed on it. The solid cast brought this to completion and I was eager to see how season 2 would play things out. Season 2 is a very different show in a lot of ways and while the first one had me gushing about everything, I would say that this season had more weaknesses. It’s still pretty good but I had some issues which wasn’t the case with the first season.
Last time Boy transformed into a Kaiju and saved the day but now the group has to decide what to do with him. Taylor thinks its way too dangerous to stick with him and Mei agrees but Hayley says they will not abandon him under any circumstances. The Sisters of the Kaiju are after him as well which complicates things. Protecting Boy could end up costing all of them their lives. Taylor will be faced with a tough decision there and this could even cost him the trust of his allies. Will he make the right move? Also, does this group have ties to their parents?
There’s a lot going on here of course but the Sisters are definitely the main threat now. Not to say that the Kaijus aren’t a threat but at this point it’s fairly easy to outmaneuver them and to stay safe. The sisters can control Kaiju which is the real danger here since that means they can utilize strategy and all kinds of tactics to keep the upper hand. I wasn’t able to take them very seriously though which is part of what made this season a bit weaker. This group isn’t all that strong individually. They can be shot like normal or just overpowered. Their ability to use Kaiju is impressive but it’s not enough to make the group as a whole very scary.
You feel like the heroes probably could just storm the base and blow them up a few times. I like the concept of the group for sure and I remember being intrigued in season 1 but they just didn’t live up to the hype. Giving them some slight super abilities or a more charismatic leader would have gone a long way towards helping the group out. It did at least give us a fairly satisfying plot with the mother though. The episode of jumping into her mind and trying to bring her back was cool. It was like something out of X-Men with the whole exploring the mental realm part.
So this is around the point where Shane shows up and he’s definitely changed quite a bit. The guy was the big antagonist last time but here he is played up more like someone who deep down cares for Mei a lot the whole time and has just made a lot of tough calls. He walks back some of his more nefarious moves from last season with revelations like him storing up the memories and now he’s ready to risk his life to save the main characters’ mother. It’s impressive that he didn’t walk away from the challenge and just went for it. It feels like there’s a bit of a disconnect here but either way he makes for one of the better characters in this season.
The scene of him casually taking out a few of the sisters just made him look that much more impressive even if it had the opposite effect for them. His partner was also decent but more of a tech guy so there wasn’t a lot for him to do in the field. Shane’s group should live on rather well with their new commander who knew how to fight and lead the group. He ends up bumping off one member of the group but she was handling everything in a really awful way. Why shoot at a monster that’s not even going towards you? The scene was meant to show how she cracked but man was that a bad time for it.
The season is only 7 episodes so by this point we’re already about halfway and then we get the climax with the sisters launching their final assault and Apex even showing up. The government also appears to mostly get in the way by the end. I felt they were unreasonable the whole time but the kids did not help their case at all. We’ll get into that more later on. The fights are good as always with a lot of solid back and forth. There aren’t as many robot vs kaiju battles here but the ones that we do get always deliver when it counts.
There are also our share of human battles against the smaller creatures which is good. I did think that the main wolf type Kaiju looked way too weak though. You couldn’t go one episode without them getting wrecked by someone. They would lose to humans, Boy, random villains, etc. Seriously, it’s almost each and every one of those 7 episodes where they lose and it felt like they were complete fodder now. Losing to Boy is fine of course but when they were losing to Mei and the others it could be a little harder to buy because of how ferocious these things are supposed to be. It’s mostly just a power levels issue but they went down too easily.
As with last time I really enjoyed the animation. I still say it looks like something out of Nintendo with Hayley looking like a cross between Link and Samus. The style suits the series well and takes 0 time to get used to. It just works right from the jump even when there are no action scenes. It’s really colorful and striking so each scene has a big impact on you. The soundtrack or lack thereof isn’t impressive though. I couldn’t tell you any big themes from the show which is a shame because I think you could have had a lot of really cool sci-fi themes going the whole time. It seems like that wasn’t meant to be this time though.
Now we do meet a crazy guy named Bunyip who actually manages to keep the Kaiju at bay to an extent. I thought he was pretty interesting because he has managed to live all these years but he definitely didn’t think things through by the end. His system was never going to work forever though with how it relied on the food like that. One moment of sabotage and it’s all over. I did find it interesting that they had to do the whole sabotage thing instead of controlling the Kaiju outright. Maybe that would have been too much for them or their hunger for food would supersede the orders.
Now the most controversial character here would be Taylor and for good reason. This guy makes a whole lot of mistakes in this season and they are rather large ones that you can’t walk back from. He argues with Hayley in basically every episode about Boy and what they ought to do with him. Naturally he wants to cut ties with Boy the whole time because Taylor thinks the situation is too dangerous while Hayley says they should keep looking after him since they’re all a family. Taylor then does the unthinkable in brokering a deal with the villains to take Boy off their hands and it’s a move that you can’t come back from.
You can’t just give Boy over to an insane cult like this. Who knows what could have happened to him and then the fact that he did this in the dead of night so the others wouldn’t realize just makes the whole thing even worse. It wasn’t a brave thing to do but a cowardly one. I wouldn’t blame Haley if she decided to never speak to him again after that. Then in another scene has her take the tough job of helping talk to someone as they’re dying so it can be peaceful. Hayley has to go through a lot here and a good chunk of it is Taylor’s fault.
No matter how he rationalizes it, he made a terrible choice here. You can’t just betray your allies like this no matter how tough the situation gets. It was very disappointing since he was pretty good in the first season. It may have sown the seeds for their future disagreements but at least they were talking it out rather than him just making a big move like this. At least Hayley was still a very good character. She did advocate for helping Boy a whole lot in the season and never backed down. She proved herself to be more of a hero than the other 2 who certainly had a lot of doubts about the whole thing. Hayley just doesn’t give up the way that the others do and has managed to keep her optimism the whole way through.
She is also able to keep a better control of her emotions at times. Perhaps not all of the time as she’s under a lot of stress to but when the going gets tough she steps up. That’s exactly how it should be. As for Boy, he doesn’t get a ton to do here since he is being mind controlled half the time but he means well. He’s just too young to have much of a character yet though so he’s mainly just around as a plot point more than a character.
Mei is still the most hardened member of the group and she’s always talking about leaving but deep down you know that she’s here for the full ride. She has some history with the sisters which can cause her to freeze up but it doesn’t stop her from going in and helping with the whole attack on the base. Ultimately she does the best during this operation which is not surprising. The show always gave her the respect and poise that is due of such a good fighter. She was more on Taylor’s side the whole time but unlike him she wasn’t going to try anything sneaky in the dead of night so she’s way better than he is.
One character who shows up briefly here is Apex but you feel like his character was wasted. This guy still has the best design in the show and is one of the fiercer characters but he doesn’t get a true fight this time. He shows up to help with the Boy situation and that’s it. Ultimately it wasn’t much in the way or closure for this guy and they could have done better. I was happy to see this guy and so to have his role be so small just didn’t feel right. He deserved a big battle if nothing else.
Finally you have their mother Brina who is a solid character. It’s definitely a shame that she got brainwashed so thoroughly but it’s hard to imagine someone. holding out against the sisters for so long on their own anyway. They’re a professional cult with a ton of experience in this domain so that makes sense. Ultimately it’s hard to remove their influence and she has a tough time throughout the season. I was glad that she got to appear and have some conversations with the main characters at least. It was definitely a long time coming there.
As for the government stepping in, so here’s why I blame this on the heroes a bit. They should have yelled right away that they were the children of the two legendary pilots. After that have the A.I. try talking and just keep saying trivia and fun facts that establish their identity. Instead they were a little too curt and down to business on the liens which didn’t give the government a lot to work with. Of course I do think the government wasn’t very reasonable here either as they immediately started firing the whole time. At lest look at the situation and see what’s happening here. These guys were way too gung ho and if the barrage was successful then the robot would have been taken out too. You feel like they could use every suit they can so breaking it would be a huge waste for them.
It ended up making the final fight a whole lot closer than it needed to be. I’m also not convinced their assault would have done much to stop the real Kaiju enemies so being here may not be the safest thing anyway. Well, the season works as an open and shut ending to the series which most of the important things wrapped up. The Black does well in feeling like its own stand alone story while acknowledging that things are going on around the planet as a whole. I’d like to see this continued and incorporate them into the main plot to stop the Kaiju once and for all. That would make for a great season 3.
One of the things that helps the show excel so much is the very solid writing here. It’s a very advanced writing style here where the characters debate and talk each path through. They don’t always see eye to eye by the end and sometimes the plans are no good but the dialogue is quite strong. Writing plays a key part in any show and this one was definitely in a good spot as a result. Mixing in the fun action and graphics is an extra bonus to take this even further. So what I’m saying in the end here is that you’ll have a lot of fun here and you should be satisfied with the ending. It may have had its weak points but at the end of the day it’s still a well rounded show with a lot of fun moments. The action scenes are all a lot of fun and while this is a show for the story first and action second, they give each fight a good amount of time and effort.
Overall, Pacific Rim The Black has been a really fun ride. Watching the two seasons back to back would definitely make for a really solid watch. A lot of franchises would be desperate to get a show this good so it’s really fortunate for Pacific Rim to get something like this. There was a lot of effort put into it and there’s a lot of replay value to be had here. If you’re looking for a solid action/adventure show then you definitely can’t go wrong with this one.