Mako was born on April 23, 2003 to parents Sumako and Masao Mori, a sword maker. An only child, Mako grew up in village in Tanegashima and lived a relatively comfortable and happy life with her mother and father. Mako would spend hours in her father's workshop, watching as metal is forged, hammered, cooled and sharpened into weapons. Her fascination with her father's profession instills tomboyish attitudes in her. At some point in time, he gifts her with a Hanbō staff.
Mako is ten years old when the first Kaiju, Trespasser, attacks San Francisco in 2013. She overhears the news broadcast on the radio.
Sunday, May 15, 2016 marked the attack of the Kaiju Onibaba in Tokyo. When her father is diagnosed with cancer, Mako and her mother head into Tokyo to get him treatment. Afterward, her parents took her shopping where they bought her a pair of red shoes. Their visit to the park coincided with Onibaba's attack. Mako and her family are bombarded by the people trying to escape. During the chaos, Mako’s shoe strap breaks and pulls away from her father in order to retrieve it. When she finally recovers her lost shoe, she loses her parents in the crowd and is left standing alone in an abandoned street.
Distressed, Mako searches for her parents; she calls for her mother as the military converges on Onibaba. She is forced to fend for her life during the military’s battle against the creature that remained in close proximity. When she tries to hide from it in an alley, Onibaba finds her and tries to pull her out of the alley. However, the intervention of the 機甲獵人, Coyote Tango, saves her life. Her survival in the face of Onibaba’s rampage made her an iconic figure in the media.
Tales from Year Zero
After Mako is saved by Stacker Pentecost and Tamsin Sevier, it was some time before Pentecost would encounter her again. In the aftermath of her parents' death, Mako is sent to live in an orphanage. When his friend was diagnosed with cancer, Pentecost decides to adopt Mako, feeling a kinship with her through their shared loss of family at the hands of the Kaiju.
June 21, 2016, the two travel from Japan to Alaska. Mako asks if the weather is cold. Pentecost tells her they only intend on staying in Alaska for a few weeks until Lima’s Shatterdome is up and running. Mako inquires about his position as a Jaeger pilot, Pentecost tells her he doesn’t “drive” one anymore. Instead, he teaches others how to pilot Jaegers. Curious, Mako asks if she can drive a Jaeger; Pentecost’s response is "someday".
Still, Mako’s interest in Jaegers persists. A month later, she continues to ask Pentecost about the reasoning behind two pilots and in particular, who his partner was. Pentecost appears hesitant to give her an answer, but eventually takes Mako to see Tamsin. Mako gets the opportunity to know Tamsin during her struggle with cancer and remission until her eventual death.
Tales From The Drift
July 5, 2016, two weeks following the initial attack of the Kaiju Itak in Tokyo Bay, Mako accompanies Stacker to see Kaori and Duc Jessop, who are recovering from injuries sustained inside Tacit Ronin. Stacker tells Mako to wait in the hall, but, overexcited, she interrupts Stacker's conversation with the pilots to ask if she can see Kaori.
While Stacker reprimands her, he asks Kaori if she is comfortable with entertaining Mako. Kaori uses it as a chance to distract Mako and draw her away from Stacker and Duc. Mako expresses relief in seeing Kaori well after admitting she'd been watching the fight. When she learned Tacit Ronin's energy core had become unstable, Mako tells Kaori that she tried to warn those working on Tacit Ronin that the radiation shielding wouldn't be enough.
In the cafeteria of the hospital, Mako and Kaori discuss the aftermath of Tacit Ronin's battle. While she is reluctant to discuss the details, Mako finally tells Kaori that Coyote Tango would be out of commission for weeks, and that if she or Duc attempted to pilot Tacit Ronin, the damage sustained would kill them. Mako apologizes to Kaori when she starts to cry, but Kaori reassures her that she isn't to blame. Their conversation is cut short when they hear the arrival of another Kaiju. Mako accompanies Kaori back to Duc's room and alerts Stacker of the arriving Kaiju.
Kaori and Duc are killed in the fight against the Category II Kaiju Ragnarok, Mako attends their funeral with Stacker. When the service ends, Mako draws his attention to their coffins where two red lotus blossoms have landed.
Pan Pacific Defense Corps.
Mako joins the Jaeger Academy in 2021. She develops skills for mechanics and engineering during her tenure as a student in the Jaeger Program. In accordance with her wishes, Pentecost becomes her teacher and trains Mako to become a Ranger at the academy. Her overall score in the Jaeger simulator is "51 drops and 51 kills". Despite Mako’s records in the academy, Pentecost is adamant that she remain outside of the battlefield and dissuades her at every chance.
In 2023, Gipsy Danger is removed from Oblivion Bay and relocated to the Anchorage Shatterdome where Mako oversees its refurbishment under the Mark III Restoration Project; the Jaeger is refitted with a completely iron hull, free of any alloys, new weaponry and two nuclear reactors.
In 2024, Mako and Pentecost go to visit her grave in Hawaii to pay respects when Naomi Sokolov is sent to the Anchorage Shatterdome to interview the Marshal.
When the Anchorage Shatterdome is shut down, Mako, Pentecost and what remains of the PPDC personnel are relocated to Hong Kong with eight months of funding. In search of a pilot for Gipsy Danger, Pentecost assigns Mako to compile a candidate list for 萊利·貝克特, a former Ranger who quit the PPDC after his brother’s death.
Mako greets her father and Raleigh as they arrive on deck of the Shatterdome. As Pentecost introduces him to his daughter, Mako remarks in Japanese that Raleigh is not what she expected. Raleigh, revealing himself to know the language, asks in Japanese if her expectations are good or bad. Embarrassed, Mako apologizes and compliments him on his record as a Ranger.
Once Pentecost introduces Raleigh to the functions of the Shatterdome and the personnel fighting alongside them on the mission to bomb the Breach, Mako shows him to bay three where the refurbished Gipsy Danger is undergoing repairs. Raleigh remarks that Gipsy Danger “looks like new”; Mako explains the Jaeger is one of a kind, the only Jaeger running on two nuclear reactors.
Showing him to his room, Mako informs him that his candidates will be prepared to face him in the morning. Curious to know her stake in the Pentecost’s mission, Raleigh asks if she’s Jaeger pilot. Mako answers in the negative, however, she tells him that she wants to become a pilot more than anything. However, Pentecost has his reasons for preventing her from doing so. He notes that her impressive simulator score can’t be the reason Pentecost forbids her the opportunity.
Mako changes the subject; she expounds that she’s studied his every move and mission deployments, especially his final one in Anchorage. She believes his tendency to deviate from standard procedure and taking unnecessary risks put the lives of those at his side in danger.
She doesn’t believe he’s the right man for the Breach assault. Raleigh, stung by her opinion, cites that real life combat is different from anything in a simulator and that the choices made in the moment are ones he has to try living with. Frustrated, Mako leaves his room; as she prepares to close the door, she spies the scars on his back and left arm and becomes envious.
The following day, Mako approaches her father for the chance to pilot Gipsy Danger like he promised her when she was younger. Pentecost’s belief that she merely wants revenge, however, has him deny her the opportunity again. She and Pentecost oversee Raleigh and the candidates' performance in the Kwoon Combat Room. As he progresses through each candidate, Mako is unimpressed by Raleigh’s performance. He stops long enough to ask why she has a problem with him, taking a stab at her pride when he questions her selection of candidates. Mako tells him the problem lies not with the candidates, but with his inability to use the best tactics immediately to take them out quicker than he is.
Irritated, Raleigh challenges Mako, bringing into question her purported skills as a Pentecost’s “brightest”. Though Pentecost objects at first, he allows Mako the opportunity to fight Raleigh. The two are evenly matched the fight, but Mako rises victorious when she uses a sweep maneuver, knocking Raleigh off his feet and pinning his leg.
Despite her compatibility with Raleigh, Pentecost tells Raleigh that she won’t be his pilot and dismisses the issue. Mako leaves the Kwoon, disappointed and retreats to her room.
Later, Pentecost decides to honor his promise to her; visiting her room, he offers her one of the red shoes she wore in 2016 when Onibaba attacked. Out of respect, Mako bows and prepares to suit up. She arrives in Gipsy Danger’s Conn-Pod, ready to pilot alongside Raleigh. As they prepare to Drift, Raleigh warns her not to latch onto a memory during the drift. The initial Drift between the two goes smoothly; their neural handshake allowing them interface with Gipsy Danger without issue.
However, when Raleigh latches onto the memory of his brother’s death, he throws them both out of alignment. Mako gets lost in her memory of Onibaba’s attack; reliving the memory while connected to Gipsy Danger activates the Plasmacaster on Raleigh’s side of the Jaeger.
Her connection with the Jaeger is strong enough to override the emergency failsafe’s in the LOCCENT, which leads technician Tendo Choi and the Hansen’s, Herc and Chuck, to shut down power the entire system connected to the Jaeger.
The incident brings into question Mako and Raleigh’s capability to run defense for Striker Eureka during the Breach assault. Chuck confronts Raleigh and Mako outside of Pentecost’s office after a meeting with the Marshall and his father. Knowing they heard him, Chuck tells Raleigh to disappear, figuring that the five year gap from the last time he piloted a Jaeger would endanger the mission. Mako warns Chuck to stop antagonizing Raleigh. He continues when Raleigh holds her back, calls them bitches who need leashes.
His comment angers Raleigh enough to punch him; when Chuck fails to apologize to Mako, the two get into a fight that ends in Raleigh’s favor. Herc and Pentecost exit the office and split the two up. In Pentecost’s office, Mako’s father believes she’s too inexperienced to reign in her memories and that it was a mistake to allow her in the Jaeger with Raleigh. Heartbroken, Mako asks to be dismissed from his office, Pentecost grants her wish and she leaves.
When LOCCENT picks up two Category IV Kaiju signatures, Otachi and Leatherback, Crimson Typhoon, Cherno Alpha and Striker Eureka are deployed from the Shatterdome to confront the Kaiju in the Victoria Harbour while Pentecost keeps Mako and Raleigh grounded. However, when Otachi and Leatherback gain the upper hand on all three Jaegers; Otachi destroying both Crimson Typhoon’s Conn-Pod and Leatherback crushing Cherno Alpha’s pilots inside their Conn-Pod underwater and disabling Striker Eureka with an EMP blast; Raleigh reminds Pentecost that Gipsy Danger is analog and they still have a chance against the Kaiju.
Reluctantly, Pentecost sends both Mako and Raleigh out to fight Leatherback. The two grapple with the Kaiju, tearing its EMP organ from its back. Gipsy Danger is thrown into the docking area of the city where Leatherback continues to engage them. Throughout the battle they force Leatherback back toward the water, using the environment against it. Locked in a power struggle, the two use the Plasmacaster and fire into Leatherback’s stomach repeatedly; when the Kaiju falls dead, Raleigh and Mako shoot its corpse several more times to ensure it won’t get up.
They go after Otachi, who’s entered the city in search of 紐頓·蓋茲勒; dragging along an oceanic freighter, they use the boat to attack Otachi before the Kaiju snatches the boat and tosses it aside. Otachi engages them immediately, knocking them down with its tail. The Kaiju evades them, disappearing into the crowded buildings. Mako and Raleigh search for the Kaiju, relying on their immediate sight and the helicopters patrolling above to detect movement.
The two are blindsided by Otachi, who crashes through a building; it rams through the next building, using the environment to its advantage. Otachi tries to use its acid to burn through the hull of the Jaeger; Mako and Raleigh dodge its attack, but aren’t quick enough to avoid its pounce.
Otachi tries to use the pincer on its tail to crush their Conn-Pod. Mako uses the coolant on Raleigh’s order and freezes the tail enough to shatter it. Free of its tail, Mako and Raleigh tear the acid sac from its throat and discard it. Otachi pounces on them again and digs into the back of the Jaeger and takes flight. The Kaiju smashes them through the tops of the skyscrapers and moves to take them above the atmosphere.
As they begin to lose oxygen, Raleigh believes they`re out of options. Mako, remembering the chain sword, deploys the weapon. Mako takes vengeance for her family when she and Raleigh cut Otachi in half; as they plummet, they barely manage to slow descent using Pentecost’s advice to purge the nuclear reactor. Landing relatively safely, the two return to the Shatterdome victorious. Herc thanks them for saving his and Chuck’s life from Leatherback.
Pentecost congratulates them for their efforts, but reminds the Shatterdome personnel that they still have work to do. Mako is the first to notice Pentecost nose is bleeding, alerting the Shatterdome to his illness. When he dismisses himself and orders the War Clock restarted, Mako shares a look with Raleigh that lets him know she is aware of his illness.
When Pentecost reveals that he will pilot Striker Eureka alongside Chuck in Herc’s stead, Mako tries to stop him, reminding him that getting into another Jaeger will kill him. Pentecost, understanding her concern, commends her on her training and tells her he was proud to see her grow up.
Striker Eureka and Gipsy Danger are airlifted to the Challenger Deep, the location of the Breach. As they approach the Breach, they are attacked by Raiju and Scunner, two Category IV Kaiju sent to defend the Breach. Scunner and Raiju ambush Gipsy Danger, tearing off its right arm and damaging its leg. When Raiju circles around for another attack, Gipsy Danger’s chain sword cuts the Kaiju in half. Crippled, Mako and Raleigh cannot get to Chuck and Pentecost before Scunner comes to the aid of Slattern, a Category V Kaiju who disabled Striker Eureka’s ability to deploy the thermonuclear bomb into the Breach.
Pentecost tells Mako to make for the Breach and destroy it using the Jaeger’s nuclear reactor. Though reluctant, she obeys the order and tells her father that she loves him. He and Chuck use the bomb to kill the remaining Kaiju. When the thermonuclear bomb goes off, Mako and Raleigh use the chain sword to brace themselves against the blast that parts the sea. The water comes rushing back around them, but they are able to recover despite the damage sustained to the Jaeger.
They limp toward the Breach with the halved body of Raiju when their path is blocked by a wounded Slattern. Tackling the Kaiju, they stab Slattern in the back with the chain sword as it attacks Gipsy Danger’s with its horned tails. It succeeds in cutting the line to Mako’s air supply. As they descend into the Breach, Mako loses consciousness. Raleigh gives her his air supply and ejects her in one of Gipsy Danger’s life pods.
Mako reaches the surface first. Regaining consciousness, she searches for any sign of Raleigh’s life pod. When it emerges, she swims over and forces the hatch open. Mako fears the worst when she cannot find his pulse. Embracing Raleigh, she begs him not to leave her. Raleigh regains consciousness and tells hers that she’s choking him. Relieved, she lets him go. Raleigh relays the destruction of the Breach to LOCCENT and the two wait for pick up from the helicopters.
Not unlike Pentecost, Mako is haunted by the loss her family. Consciously or unconsciously, she dresses in blues and gray colors, which harken back to what she wore as a child and the state of Tokyo during Onibaba's attack. The blue streaks in the front of her hair also represent the lingering trauma of the memory of the attack. Guillermo del Toro states the red shoe she loss in the confusion is "a symbolic object that represents her heart".[note 2]
Mako is a perfectionist, seeking to get anything she puts her mind right. del Toro describes Mako as "her own worst enemy" and "crucial adversary"; Mako dislikes nothing more than to fail herself and others around her. Short tempered, Mako socialized very little with others and has no friends. This is particularly heightened by her desire fulfill her "life debt" to Pentecost and prove her worth as a Ranger to her adoptive father, who assumes the trauma of her experience in Tokyo is too severe and will hinder her. Her open desire for revenge against the Kaiju for killing her mother and father is enough to prevent her from piloting a Jaeger.
Though Mako is still marred by loss, she eventually creates another family just as dear to her with Pentecost, the Wei Tang Brothers and the Kaidonovsky couple. The moment she granted the opportunity to take her revenge against the Kaiju, she not only avenges Sumako and Masao, but the pilots of Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha.[note 3]
Additionally, the relationship she eventually forms with Raleigh Becket is offset by the character's personal colors (brown, amber and green) which are representative of a possibility of a life beyond the Kaiju and the war once she is saved by Raleigh before he detonates Gipsy Danger and the breach is destroyed. Mako learns to trust again beyond the pentameters of her close knit family when she and Raleigh become partners.[note 4] Mako takes great pride in her abilities to repair electronics and is at her happiest when she is repairing engines.
Described by Pentecost as "one of [our] brightest", Mako Mori's extensive knowledge of Jaeger technology placed her in charge of Gipsy Danger's restoration program. Aspiring to become a pilot herself, she scores a impressive record in the Defense Corps' combat simulators, cementing her status as a prodigy and the most promising cadet of her generation. Mori has high Drift-compatibility with Raleigh Becket, a pilot who is notorious for his intuitive and unpredictable decision-making, which contrasts with Mako's perfectionism and abiding of rule books.
Their combination of mindsets give the two an uncanny proficiency in tactical sense and strategic thinking while in the Drift, which becomes apparent when Raleigh and Mako --- during her first deployment and with no combat experience --- single-handedly bring down Leatherback and Otachi, the two largest Category IV Kaiju on record, preventing the PPDC's last line of defense from being overrun and keeping humanity's fighting chance against the Kaiju alive.
Pentecost trained Mako in hand-to-hand and close quarters combat from an early age, passing on all his fighting skills to her. She became a master in multiple disciplines, with her skills rivaling those of Becket. Mako personally hand-picked all of Raleigh's potential Drift partners, before a sparring session with him revealed that she was in fact the strongest candidate herself.
- The following information was taken from the special feature "Drift Space"
- Ruling Planet: Venus-Saturn
- Positives: Resilient, strong, respectful, brave, reverent, resourceful, trustworthy, single-minded, methodic, disciplined, organized, clean, loyal, pure
- Negatives: Stubborn, demanding, rigid, cloistered, intolerant, introverted, hermetic, dogmatic, lonely
- Secret Dreams: That her destiny is greater than her circumstance
- Most Happy If: Repairing an engine or seeing an engine repaired
- Present Love Interest: Training, Raleigh Becket
- Heroes: Kitano, Stacker Pentecost aka "Sensei"
- Mana Ashida, who plays young Mako during the events of the film in 2016, was seven years old at the time of filming in 2011.
- In an interview with Time Out New York Guillermo del Toro jokingly states that Mako and Raleigh's fight scene was shot "like a sex scene" and mirrored how he met his wife.[note 5] Additionally, del Toro also wanted to show a partnership and triumph between men and women "without a love story" and "soldiers".[note 6]
- Mako's final words to Stacker Pentecost, when translated, are "Teacher, I love you."[note 7]
- Mako's Japanese voice actor, Megumi Hayashibara, provided the voice of Rei Ayanami in the Neon Genesis Evangelion series.
- Mako and Tamsin are were said to be like "sisters" according to Travis Beacham.
- When asked whether or not Mako and Yancy Becket were Drift compatible, Travis Beacham instead stated that Drift compatibility is not inherent and that the PPDC likely would not have chosen Mako and Raleigh for partners despite the fact that they chose each other.
- In the novelization, Mako says "Kamei no tame ni! (For my family's honor)"
- del Toro: "Mako is defined by the grey colour and the blue colour. As we go through the movie we find out that she’s defined by those colours because in her childhood we have a blue memory, a memory that’s all just in blue with splashes of red. I show her holding her heart, or a symbolic object that represents her heart. The memory has left a stain on her hair that is blue, and she’s carrying that memory with her. The introductory sequence of Mako is very significant."
- del Toro: "It was very important to give this to Mako and to have her say "for my family", but it’s not only the family that she lost in that memory. I made the conscious decision not to show the family destroyed in the memory because all the family that she’s formed now, the Russians that died, the Chinese that died is her family, the human family that we see slaughtered in the movie everytime a Kaiju appears."
- del Toro: [...]On the other hand, Raleigh is in a colour space made up of greens, browns and amber. When they meet, the whole sequence is a meeting of his amber and her blue. You see that the entire scene where they meet at the helipad is a clash of just blue and amber. Mako and Raleigh complement each other, their colours are complementary. Their Jaeger cockpit, then, is mostly in blue and amber, their colours.
- Interviewer: "That fight scene between the two of them may still qualify as the best sex scene to show up in any movie this summer, even if they are both fully clothed."
Guillermo del Toro: "That’s exactly how I shot it—like a sex scene. That scene was all about two people having an intimate connection after beating the crap out of each other. Basically, it’s the story of my life. And how I met my wife. [Laughs]"
- del Toro: “I wanted to show that men and women can be friends without having a relationship. Theirs is a story about partnership, equality and a strong bond between partners. It’s important for little girls to know not every story has to be a love story and for boys to know that soldiers aren’t the only ones to triumph in war.”
- Travis Beacham: "Oh, man... What Mako says is — "Sensei, I love you."