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When watching Pacific Rim in German it didn't strike me much to hear those giant robots being called "Jäger" (hunters), only to be surprised by the fact that they are called "Jaegers" in the original, too (and the beginning of the movie, when the word's definition is given alongside "Kaiju", says that this indeed derives from the German word for "hunter").

But while the name "Kaiju" is an obvious hommage to the Japanese origin of this whole movie genre with giant monsters, the choice of the word "Jaeger" for those robots seems rather arbitrary while still pretty unusual. Is there any explanation why the term "Jaeger" was chosen to name those giant robots or any connection of that word to the mecha genre those things were meant as an hommage to?

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Since I hope this to have some deeper reason or being an hommage to something, I hope the analysis tag to be justified. Feel free to remove it if you don't think so. –  Sonny Burnett Jul 30 '13 at 21:33
    
Jäger in German military context does not just mean hunter but is a term for specialized combat units and light infantry: Urban combat, Paratroopers (Fallschirmjäger) or mountain warfare (Gebirgsjäger). Of course the term derives from hunters who first formed these units when normal infantry was formed from untrained conscripts. –  his Apr 15 at 19:26
    
@his True indeed. –  Sonny Burnett Apr 15 at 19:28

5 Answers 5

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The only language the Japanese geek out over as much as they do English, is German. There are plenty of examples, particularly in anime and Japanese video games of German words and German or German-sounding names in use. For the life of me I can't find it via Googling but I swear I've seen some game or anime use the term Jaeger for its mecha in the past. IMO, Del Toro is just following a popular anime/mecha meme that also conveniently fits in with the focus on the Jaeger program being an international effort. I tried to find some nice lists of definitive examples but seriously there's just too much commentary out there to pull wheat from the chaff. Look around a little bit. There's tons of observation of the phenomenon of German in manga/anime/games out there.

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Hmm, sounds interesting. Some more references (or even reasons) would be appreciated, though. –  Sonny Burnett Aug 7 '13 at 9:49
    
google.com/… –  Erik Reppen Aug 7 '13 at 9:56
    
Hmm, indeed seems to be a common phenomenon without an obvious reason. –  Sonny Burnett Aug 7 '13 at 10:30
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Yeah I've always wondered about the popularity of German in anime. I guess that's a good question for anime.SE! –  System Down Aug 7 '13 at 10:56
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I don't know if it's the historical relationship or Japan's even pre-Meiji cultural-absorbing tendencies. For all the history of geography-bolstered isolationism and devotion to tradition they seem to more rapidly borrow and integrate from other cultures they're exposed to than the anglos ever have and the anglos are pretty much filthy dirty sluts on the cross-cultural pollination front. –  Erik Reppen Aug 7 '13 at 14:36

"Jaeger program" was presented and started by "Jasper Schoenfeld", he is stated as American citizen but his place of birth or ancestry isn't mentioned, we can only guess from his surname that it is from German speaking countries, which would explain why he chose the German word for hunter.

But still there are lot of speculations about this, especially since lot of trivia is between movies and comics.

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The scientist who created the Jaeger mechs was Jasper Schoenfeld (a german name). Hence while naming his ideas and creation, he may have chosen a german term for hunter.

As to why the plot contains this obvious german reference, it is unclear whether Del Toro chose a german word because it pairs up with Kaiju or because of german prowess in automotive engineering is not clear.

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Jeager is a common name for strong military leaders (side doesn't really matter, but usually good) and robots (manned or AI) in Japanese manga series or stories and games inspired but such series... some examples below:

  • Gray Fox (Frank Jaeger), a character in the Metal Gear series
  • Jagar Tharn, a fictional character of The Elder Scrolls universe
  • Karl Jaeger, a playable character in the game Alien Swarm
  • Felix Jaeger, a fictional character in the Gotrek and Felix series
  • Jägermonsters, a fictional race from the Girl Genius comics
  • Gen. Radi Jaeger, a fictional villain in the video game Valkyria Chronicles
  • The Strong Jaeger, a red and yellow robot with a signature J on his chest appearing in the videos of songs of the same name in the beatmania IIDX music games
  • Jäger, the field-name of the first and most basic of the Southern forces in the video and board game series Heavy Gear
  • Jaegers, small steampunk-style attack bots used by Nemesis in City of Heroes & City of Villains
  • Each of the "Invisible 9" units of the manga and anime series Pumpkin Scissors is nicknamed using "Jäger"; the soldiers of the most prominent unit, 901 are known as Gespenst Jäger
  • The Bishop's Jaegers (1932), a comic novel by Thorne Smith
  • Pilgrim Jäger, a Japanese manga series
  • Jaeger Corps in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
  • Jäger Sucher, German for hunter searcher, clandestine government group of werewolf hunters in the Night Creature series by Lori Handeland
  • Jaegers, a fictional type of giant robots used in the 2013 film Pacific Rim
  • Eren Jäger, protagonist in the Attack on Titan manga and anime
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(Pure speculation, it might not at all be correct.)

My friend told me that it was because the intended effect was, these giant mechas are going to "hunt" Kaiju. And giant robots named Hunters, doesn't sound very impressive. But giant robots named Jaegers, now that's more intimidating. Couple this to the whole Japanese obsession towards German words, and Jasper Schoenfeld.

I also thought it might be a reference to Alex Jaeger, someone who had quite substantial work in this movie, though I'm not sure as what. Feel free to edit if you can make it clearer who Alex Jaeger is.

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