Computer-generated animation is a controversial subject in the world of anime. For many, CG is often a necessary means to cut corners. While it can sometimes gain acclaim among anime enthusiasts, the majority of fans associate it with disasters like Berserk 2016 and EX-ARM. Even competent CG animation, as seen in Earwig and the Witch, is widely decried.
Ergo, when Pacific Rim: The Black came out with its CG animation, many felt less enthusiastic about the project. Fans were uncertain if the CG animation would look too stiff or too clunky, not to mention how good the landscapes, Jaegers and Kaiju might look. However, Pacific Rim: The Black is a success, with its animation actually suiting the series rather than conflicting with it.
Character Models in Pacific Rim: The Black
One issue with a lot of CG anime is how the character models move and look on screen. There is often a blocky unnaturalness to either the characters' movements or expressions. This is usually reduced with the more inhuman characters, such as giant robots or monsters. As such, going into Pacific Rim: The Black, a viewer might expect the Jaegers and Kaijus to look good while the human models look weird and awkward on-screen.
Undeniably, the Kaiju and Jaegers do look pretty good. While none of them look as breathtaking as their live-action film counterparts, they are well-rendered. However, what's more surprising is how the human characters look design-wise. The animation manages to competently give these characters a whole range of organic expressions and emotions. While their movements can sometimes seem overly smooth or stilted in some shots, they remain for the most part fairly impressive renders.
The digital textures also suit the series well. The CG works here because it's designed to resemble anime character designs. You aren't going to see something as complex as Dorohedoro, but you're also not going to see plastic-looking textures like in Earwig and the Witch. Because of this, while the animation might be a little distracting at first, you get into the groove fairly easily with Pacific Rim: The Black.
The Artistry of Pacific Rim: The Black's Landscapes
However, where Pacific Rim: The Black's animation excels most isn't the character design. It's the background design. The environments in this anime are rendered beautifully, crafting detailed worlds that all look distinct from one another. Foggy, washed-out cities, expansive deserts, vibrant technological wonderlands -- all of these are crafted throughout the series in unique and creative ways.
All of this demonstrates real artistry to the series that manages to make the world visually appealing throughout. CG anime tend to have issues feeling vibrant and alive, but these environments really let you feel alive in this alternate version of Australia. Granted, none of this is Ghibli-tier set design, but for CG, it feels pretty effective.
Pacific Rim: The Black incorporates its CG more artistically than a lot of the infamous failed attempts at all-CG rendered anime. Many fans out there choose to skip all CG animated shows due to the nature of their animation. If that description fits you, it's worth giving Pacific Rim: The Black a shot. While it isn't the most beautifully created anime of all time, it's a far cry from the worst, using its CG to help tell its epic story in the most efficient manner possible.