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Gamera: Guardian of the Universe

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Daiei's Gamera Series
Gamera Theatrical Poster
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Directed by Shusuke Kaneko
Written by Kazunori Ito
Produced by Tsutomu Tsuchikawa
Starring Shinobu Nakayama
Ayako Fujitani
Yukijiro Hotaru
Music by Kow Otani
Cinematography Junichi Tozawa
Editing Shizuo Arakawa
Distributed by Toho Company Ltd.
Daiei Motion Picture Company
Running time 96 mins
Budget $4,500,000
Gross $6,000,000
Followed by Gamera 2: Advent of Legion

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, (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

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

  • 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
  • Yuhmi Kaneyama as Gyaos

Awards

  • 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).

Critical reaction

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."

Trivia

  • This is the second movie where Gamera battles his archenemy Gyaos.

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