When Does Netflix's 'Pacific Rim: The Black' Anime Take Place?

The series builds on the first two films' mecha-vs-kaiju mythology.

pacific rim the black
Netflix
Netflix

Guillermo del Toro's neon rain-drenched mecha anime homage Pacific Rim is by no means the director's most beloved movie, though its overseas take made it his most commercially successful, enough to merit a sequel, and Hollywood continues to try to replicate its success by expanding its world. In the future, humans will be engaged in a war with giant monsters from another dimension, erupting out of a crack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. To do so, humans created Jaegers, skyscraper-tall mechas piloted by a pair of humans, their brains linked via neural bridge. 2018's Pacific Rim: Uprising pitted Star Wars' John Boyega against a sinister plot to create kaiju-mech hybrids, enormous mass-produced battle robots piloted by a kaiju's synthetically grown secondary brain. Del Toro's movie was an homage to many things he loves, including mecha anime and kaiju movies, so it stands to reason that the worlds would collide in Netflix's new anime series Pacific Rim: The Black

At a cursory glance, you may be wondering two things: Is Pacific Rim: The Back technically canon? If so, when does it take place in the Pacific Rim timeline? The answer to the first question is yes, it was produced by Legendary Television, an offshoot of Legendary Entertainment, the studio that produced the Pacific Rim movies. 

As for the second question, the short answer is it's set after both movies. The first Pacific Rim, which came out in 2013, was set in the year 2020, seven years after the first kaiju emerged from the Breach. (If it were up to us, watching giant robots battle giant monsters every few months would be preferable to… what actually happened in 2020.) Pacific Rim: Uprising was set in 2035, 15 years after the first movie, when humanity is once again beset by the monsters. 

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There's no handy timestamp present in Pacific Rim: The Black, except for a "5 Years Later" jump after the first episode's prologue, so we have no idea how recently after Uprising it falls, just that it's set sometime after that. It could be a few years, it could be decades. The kaiju menace has overrun the entire continent of Australia, and the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps has initiated Operation Blackout, evacuating as many from the country as they can, Jaegers included, before regrouping somewhere else. The show picks up with those who were left behind.

A few episodes include some references to the movies, including one huge Uprising one later on that I won't spoil here. A Jaeger must be piloted by two people, since one human brain simply can't take the strain of moving a machine of that size, but The Black introduces the concept of "ghost drifting." When one of the characters in the show "ghost drifts" with the digital memory of another pilot, he drifts with Herc Hansen, one of the secondary characters in Pacific Rim, pilot of Australian Jaeger Striker Eureka. (The name of Raleigh Becket, the main character of Pacific Rim, is also mentioned during this.) The main monster antagonist is a new one called "Copperhead," but Leatherback, Mutavore, and Slattern, monsters from the first movie, have cameos. (The Black, interestingly, refers to these not as names of specific monsters, but as species designations.) A few of the Jaegers from Uprising also pop up in montage sequences. As for the show's actual quality, nothing beats the original Pacific Rim for style and aesthetic, but when The Black finally does pit kaiju against mecha, you can't really go wrong.

Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.