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Gamera - Guardian of the Universe

A movie directed by Shusuke Kaneko

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GAMERA – call it what ya want, it’s still a friggin turtle!

  • Jan 7, 2001
Pros: he's cute, he's perky and darn it all, he can fly!

Cons: do not eat beans, or you too can turn into a flying turtle

Smash, bang, sizzle and pop – sure the turtle flies but it is still just a turtle! A flying turtle, you say? Why not, hasn’t everything else from the Japanese studios been just as far fetched and unbelievable? Actually, Gamera, in the beginning, was an opposing force to Godzilla and many times they fought their battles, to no obvious end. Finally, the winged turtle flew off on his own, in 1965, to become a film legend in his own mind.

With this release we have Gamera, fighting for the Japanese people, against the dreaded Gyoas, a winged creature of lizardian (excuse my poetic justice taken here) proportions with a shield for a head and the taste for humans. How ever will Gamera succeed against this nemesis?

For a Japanese monster flick, this one was fairly – no, more than fairly – bloody and gory. These Gyoas’s are an evil breed and remind me a good deal of the darling Quenztycoatl with their bad hair, screeching caws, delightful wings and sharpened talons. They tear and rip through human flesh as if it were nonexistent. Gamera has no choice but to fly in and solve the problem.

Being a turtle, however, has it’s drawbacks. Many times we find him splayed on his back like some prehistoric break-dancer, legs flailing in the air, tail whipping about, pointed beak snapping at thin air. With a good deal of rocking, he is able to right himself and proceed on his course.

A local teenager has a mysterious telepathic link to this darling turtle and summons him for combat against the Gyoas, after the remains <sigh> of the lead monster lore hero is found simmering in the steaming dung heap of the Gyoas. Not a pretty sight or a delightful end, I am sure. Regardless, Ms. Kusanagi (Ayoko Fujitani) uses her powers to release Gamera from his underwater resting place and call him hither.

Gamera, a land challenged reptile (are turtles reptiles?), can fly through the ability to emit gases – don’t ask, but I believe he lives on a strict bean diet – from side portals that enable his speed. In addition, he can belch forth lovely fire bombs (what KIND of beans are these? Or is it tofu?) that are quite destructive. Between his flitting about town passing gas and blowing up the standard Tokyo downtown sites, and the Gyoas dropping their Volkswagen sized eggs all over the city, Tokyo is once again in ruins.

The townsfolk, however, come up with the ingenious idea of luring these winged creatures into the domed baseball park, with the hopes of sealing the dome and killing the creatures inside. There is a nice interlude when as the dome ssslllloooowwwwllllyyyy closes (what the devil were they thinking?) a poor Gyoas gets trapped in the dome, but eventually all are trapped and then a dance of the titans begins between these super creatures. Gamera did the mash, it was the monster mash. Actually, they do have a little face-off as they try to stare each other down, circling like vengeful warriors – a little belch, a little talon, a snapping beak here and there, ripping, tearing, rendering monster flesh. All the while, the ever placid Japanese stand peacefully by watching this destructive force take place. As with Godzilla, and the myriad of other creatures from Monster Island, the Japanese are very blasé in there monsterdom.

This wasn’t a great movie, but it was a great movie experience. I always love the fighting forces of these terror driven species that grace the screen. They give you, without fail, a hero to egg on, an opposing force to boo, and triumph is always victorious in the end. My question is, just how many times can Tokyo be blasted to ruins and still live to see another day?

In the end, the glorious Gamera sighs, nods his rather huge head in the direction of Ms. Kusanagi , and goes back to his lair beneath the waters of the Pacific. First, however, they stare at each other, exchanging who knows what prolific mind wanderings which the director, Shusuke Kaneko, elects to superimpose these images over one another so that you are staring into both the eyes at the same time. Cute, very cute :) …..

As a note of interest, Ayoko Fujitani, Gamera’s psychic interest in this story, is Steven Segal’s daughter. So, it seems that rescuing the down trodden runs in the family. What the hay – I’m giving it 4 stars because I like the darn turtle!

Also Known As:
Gamera: Giant Monster Midair Showdown (1995)


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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


The flying, firebreathing turtle hero of yore returns to battle his ancient diabolical nemeses, the birdlike, predatory Gyaos. Not your father's Gamera movie--the spiffier special effects and subtitling lend surprising credibility, but the monster match-up is still comfortably conventional.
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Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Release Date: 1995
MPAA Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: ADV Films, Inc. (March 18, 2003)
Runtime: 1hr 40min
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