|Daiei's Gamera Series|
|Gamera: Guardian of the Universe|
|Directed by||Shusuke Kaneko|
|Written by||Kazunori Ito|
|Produced by||Tsutomu Tsuchikawa|
|Music by||Kow Otani|
|Distributed by||Toho Company Ltd.|
Daiei Motion Picture Company
|Running time||96 minutes|
|Followed by||Gamera 2: Advent of Legion|
— Japanese tagline
He's Mean. He's Green. He's Back on the Screen! The World's Favorite 200 Foot Turtle is Back!
— North American tagline
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, (ガメラ 大怪獣空中決戦 Gamera Daikaiju no Kuchu Kessen, lit. Gamera: Giant Monster Midair Battle), a 1995 tokusatsu film, is the ninth entry in the Gamera film series and first in Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera Trilogy. It features the monsters Gamera and Gyaos.
In 1998, BBC2 used the footage of the final battle between Gyaos and Gamera during its Monster Night (an evening of programming dedicated to the giant-monster movie). It was used as part of a feaure when the presenters of the evening would pretend to bet on the outcome of fights between various monsters.
Plot Synopsis[edit | edit source]
Ten thousand years ago, an advanced civilization called Atlantis possessed a technology that no other civilization on Earth could ever match. To boast their scientific power, they created a species of flying reptilian creatures, called Gyaos, to eliminate the rampant pollution caused by their ignorance. However, with the extreme abundance of pollution, the Gyaos grew stronger and stronger, and started breeding so fast that the scientists couldn't keep them under control. Eventually, the Gyaos began feasting on the Atlantians themselves! For protection, an enormous species of turtle called Gamera was created to fend off the attacks of the Gyaos. The onslaught of the demons was eventually halted, and these creatures were forced into hibernation. Despite the best efforts of its people, Atlantis was ruined. So, the scientists preserved the last remaining Gamera and bequeathed him to the next civilization, so that he might protect them from the fury of the Gyaos, should they ever rise again...
The year was then 1995; off the eastern coast of the Philippines, the Kairyu-Maru was trudging through the darkness of night. Its crew, and the crew of its Marine Safety escort, hoped that nothing would go wrong. The ship was carrying plutonium, and even a small leak would be disastrous. Without warning, the Kairyu-Maru ran aground on a mysterious floating atoll. The atoll moved away from the vessel and passed underneath both the ship and its escort. Fortunately, no plutonium was leaked, but the crew was shaken up, and reports of similar events started occurring throughout the area. A team of scientists landed on the atoll as it approached Japan. There, they found several small stone amulets, and a stone slab at the center of the anomalous formation. A strange writing was engraved on the slab, which was later deciphered. It revealed the names of Gamera, the guardian, and Gyaos, the shadow of evil. The atoll suddenly started to quake, and the slab was destroyed. As the scientists were thrown into the water, one was shocked to witness the giant eye and tusk of a mighty creature…
Meanwhile, three man-eating harpies, which were later identified as the Gyaos, were lured from the Goto Archipelago to a baseball stadium. With its retractable domed roof, the stadium would be the perfect area to trap and study the monsters. However, one of them escaped and flew toward the harbor, where Gamera suddenly burst from the water and knocked it out of the sky. Gamera waded through the town towards the stadium, intent on destroying the Gyaos. However, the leathery horrors escaped, and Gamera left the city to hide and gather strength.
One of the amulets found on Gamera's mighty carapace was given as a present to a young girl named Asagi Kusanagi. Through the artifact, she found herself spiritually connected to Gamera, and also discovered that she was able to bestow to the guardian the power he needed to fight his enemies.
The Gyaos found a place to hide and feed in the Kiso Mountain range, but Gamera soon arrived and saved three people from the terror of these monsters. Gamera flew in pursuit of the only remaining Gyaos, but the guardian monster was shot out of the sky by the Japanese military, whom the self-defense force saw as the greater threat. Gamera eventually escaped, but was forced to find a place to rest and gather more strength.
Meanwhile, the last Gyaos had grown to enormous proportions and was now besieging Tokyo. Gyaos landed atop the ruined Tokyo Tower, inadvertently wrecked in a military strike against the beast, making the landmark its nest. The following day, Gamera burrowed into the metropolis. It destroyed the nest and chased Gyaos across the city until the two began battling in the heart Tokyo. Gamera cut through Gyaos' leg and took off into the sky, where the dazed fiend chased him into the outer atmosphere. As the two savage beasts endured the immense pressures of re-entry, Gamera ripped off Gyaos' leg and shoved himself away from the flying demon. The guardian crashed into an oil refinery, and the resulting explosions surrounded him with flames. Gyaos furthered the explosions with its sonic beam and landed nearby, but Gamera absorbed the raging fire and recovered. He then destroyed Gyaos with a single massive fireball, and gave a final glance to his human companion, Asagi, as he returned to the sea.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Tsuyoshi Ihara as Yoshinari Yonemori
- Akira Onodera as Naoya Kusanagi
- Shinobu Nakayama as Mayumi Nagamine
- Ayako Fujitani as Asagi Kusanagi
- Yukijiro Hotaru as Inspector Oosako
- Hatsunori Hasegawa as Colonel Satake
- Hirotaro Honda as Mr. Saito, EPA
- Naoki Manabe, Jun Suzuki as Gamera
- Yumi Kameyama as Gyaos
Dubbing Cast[edit | edit source]
ADV Films English dub[edit | edit source]
- Aaron Krohn as Yoshinari Yonemori
- Tiffany Grant as Dr. Mayumi Nagamine
- Amanda Winn Lee as Asagi Kusanagi
- Tristan MacAvery as Naoya Kusanagi
- Paul Sidello as Inspector Osako
- Rick Peeples as Masaaki Saito
- Rob Mungle as Colonel Satake
- Spike Spencer as Michiya
- Kimberly Yates as Yukino
- John Swasey as Captain of the Nojima
- Phil Ross as Captain of the Kairyu-Maru
- Marcy Rae as Shopkeeper
- Kim Sevier as Zoo staffer
- Guil Lunde as Taxi driver
- Brett Weaver as Researcher
- Laura Chapman as Air traffic controller
- Sue Ulu as Female reporter 1
- Allison Keith as Female reporter 2
- Marcie Corder as Female researcher 1
- Carol Amerson as Female researcher 2
- Charles Campbell as Command post technician
- Kyle Sturdivant as Communications engineer
- Robert Peeples as Island policeman
- Jason Lee as Military helicopter pilot
- Paul Killam as M.P.
- Bryan Bounds as Police helicopter pilot
- Joe Pisano as Policeman
- Gene Kato as Radio operator
- Douglas Smith as News cameraman
- Kurt Stoll as Squadron lieutenant
- Lew Temple as Reporter
Arrival Films English dub[edit | edit source]
- Chris Harvey John
- Lara Clancy as Dr. Mayumi Nagamine
- Roy Ward
- Charlotte Bellamore
- David Snow
- Tim James
- Carol Kentish
- Daniel Johnson
- Richard Archer
- Jocelyn Fairman
- Neil Craske
- Jackie Wigglesworth
- Daniel Henson
- Craig Mandeville
Crew[edit | edit source]
- Executive producers Hiroyuki Kato, Seiji Urushido, Shigero Uhno
- Music by Kow Otani
- Cinematography by Junichi Tozawa, Kenji Takama
- Edited by Shizuo Arakawa
- Production design by Hajime Oikawa
- Assistant director Shozo Katashima
- Director of special effects Shinji Higuchi
- Directed by Shusuke Kaneko
- Written by Kazunori Ito
- Produced by Tsutomu Tsuchikawa
- Theme song "The Myth" performed by Bakufu Slump
Awards[edit | edit source]
- 1996 - Nominated Award of the Japanese Academy Best Supporting Actress - Shinobu Nakayama
- 1996 - Won Blue Ribbon Award Best Director - Shusuke Kaneko, Best Supporting Actress - Shinobu Nakayama
- 1996 - Won Festival Prize Best Director - Shusuke Kaneko, Best Screenplay - Kazunori Itô, Best Supporting
Actress - Shinobu Nakayama, Best Technical - Shinji Higuchi (For his special effects).
Alternate titles[edit | edit source]
- Gamera: Giant Monster Midair Battle (literal Japanese title)
- Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe (U.S. theatrical title)
- Gamera: The Gurdian of Universe (Japanese 4K Blu-ray English title)
American release[edit | edit source]
ADV Films screened a subtitled print of Gamera: Guardian of the Universe at film festivals and conventions in the United States and Canada from 1996 to 1997, under the title Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe. ADV later dubbed the film into English under the direction of Matt Greenfield. The Japanese end credits song, "The Myth," was replaced with an original English-language song titled "Gamera Always Wins" composed and performed by Charles Campbell with lyrics by Greenfield. ADV released this dubbed version to VHS in 1997, and to DVD in 2003 as Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. The DVD included both its English dub and the original Japanese audio.
British release[edit | edit source]
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe was released on VHS in the United Kingdom by Manga Video, who commissioned its own individual English dub for the film produced by Arrival Films and replaced the film's score with techno music provided by Truelove Label Collective. Manga Video's version of the film was released to DVD in May 2002 as an exclusive sold with that month's issue of PlayNation.
Critical reaction[edit | edit source]
Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, saying: "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe is precisely the kind of movie that I enjoy, despite all rational reasoning. How, you may ask, can I possibly prefer this Japanese monster film about a jet-powered turtle to a megabudget solemnity like Air Force One? It has laughable acting, a ludicrous plot, second-rate special effects and dialogue such as, 'Someday, I'll show you around monster-free Tokyo!' The answer, I think, is that Gamera is more fun." Peter H. Gilmore of Monster Zero said, "All in all, this is a vibrant and energetic film. The monster battles are full of physical grappling as well as energy weapon exchanges, and the excellent suitmation is well augmented by judiciously used CGI." Popcorn Pictures said, "This is just a great, fun kaiju film. ... Gamera finally has a film to rival Godzilla (but he's still second best to the Big G, though) and rid the infamous legacy that has dogged him throughout his motion picture life."
Videos[edit | edit source]
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- In 1998, BBC2 used the footage of the final battle between Gamera and Super Gyaos from this film during its Monster Night (an evening of programming dedicated to giant monster movies). It was used as part of a feature when the presenters of the evening would pretend to bet on the outcome of fights between various monsters.
- This film is the first known time that a kaiju was portrayed by a woman, as suit actress Yumi Kameyama portrayed the Super Gyaos. Director of special effects Shinji Higuchi chose to have a woman portray Super Gyaos because of a woman's different body shape, and also because he felt it would open the door for more women to work in tokusatsu.
- Gamera: Guardian of the Universe features numerous references to the earlier film, Gamera vs. Gyaos. Aside from featuring Gamera battling Gyaos, similarities include the film's poster, which is very reminiscent of the poster for Gamera vs. Gyaos, and the scene where Gyaos severs its own foot to escape from Gamera. Additionally, the films' Japanese titles are also very similar. Gamera vs. Gyaos' Japanese title is 大怪獣空中戦 ガメラ対ギャオス (Daikaijū Kūchū-sen: Gamera tai Gyaosu), which translates to Giant Monster Dogfight: Gamera vs. Gyaos, while Gamera: Guardian of the Universe's Japanese title is ガメラ 大怪獣空中決戦 (Gamera: Daikaijū Kūchū Kessen), which translates to Gamera: Giant Monster Midair Battle.
- The Japan Coast Guard patrol boat Nojima which appears in the opening of the film was actually a real vessel. It was retired by the Japan Coast Guard in 2017 and given to the Malaysian Maritime Law Enforcement Agency, where it was rechristened Arau.
- Actor Akira Kubo, known for appearing in several of Toho's Godzilla and other kaiju films during the Showa era, plays a minor role in this film as the captain of the Kairyu-Maru. Kojiro Hongo, who starred in three of the Showa Gamera films, also appears as the captain of the Nojima.
- Dark Horse published a four-issue comic miniseries set after the events of this film in 1996, titled Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe. It features Asagi Kusanagi and Mayumi Nagamine once again assisting Gamera, this time against a cloned Gyaos, Zigra, and Jiger. The comic was translated into Japanese and republished in Japan as a collected volume by Phase 6 in 2018, including with it as a bonus Matt Frank's prequel doujinshi The Last Hope. Both will be included in Arrow Video's Gamera: The Complete Collection Blu-ray box set.
References[edit | edit source]