Kaiju Tuesday - Gamera!
Gamera has never been in the same limelight that the king of the monsters Godzilla has been in. To be fair, Gamera to most people seems like a recycled poor-man’s Godzilla, even down to the way the monster is unleashed by a nuclear explosion. His first film outing has a very similar feel to Godzilla’s as a whole, he tramples through power lines, breathes fire, destroys cities. It’s pretty much everything you would expect from the 1954 Japanese masterpiece Gojira. While it’s heavily criticized for its similarities, there are some redeeming aspects that shouldn’t be ignored. Let’s dive into them, shall we?
For starters, Gamera’s design is awesome, along with his costume. If you couldn’t tell Gamera is a giant turtle. His shell has some spikes aimed downward, and two giant bottom teeth (which I’m pretty sure aren’t for fruit and vegetables). The detail of his suit is also something to be admired especially for 1965. My favorite power Gamera uses is his jet powered limbs. Like all turtles, he’s in trouble when he is flipped on his back, but when he withdraws into his shell fire shoots out from the cavities where his arms and legs would be. This gives him the ability to fly. That’s right Gamera isn’t just a giant fire breathing turtle, he’s a flying giant fire breathing turtle.
While I appreciate the first film and the monster himself, many of his films throughout the sixties and seventies are below average in quality. The most annoying trait in most of the movies is usually a little boy constantly following him screaming his name as if we have dementia and forget every five seconds. Fortunately, this was corrected (well not 100% corrected) in his nineties reboot.
His first series of movies which consist of eight films is called the Showa series, and about two of these movies are actually entertaining (including the first). The Heisei series includes three films, and all of them are pretty damn impressive. I have to give special praise to Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, which in my opinion is one of the best kaiju films to ever come out of Japan. The special effects are amazing and his design/costume is the best in the entire franchise.
His third series (if you can even call it a series) consists of one film, it is called the Millennium series. Gamera the Brave is not a terrible movie by any means, it just seems uninspired and recycled. It kind of goes back to the series roots, but also has some kick ass action in it too. Unfortunately, it suffers from an identity crisis, not knowing if it wants to follow the route of the Showa or Heisei series.
All in all, Gamera is a kaiju that shouldn’t be thrown to the side because of his early similarities to Godzilla. Over the years, he evolved into a formidable monster with some entertaining flicks and one fantastic one. Since we’ve seen two Godzilla reboots in the past three years, one American and one Japanese, I’d love to see a reboot of everyone’s favorite fire breathing flying turtle that loves children.