Gamera (Showa)

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Gamera incarnations
None
Gamera (Showa)
Gamera (Heisei Trilogy)
Gamera
Gamera in his debut film
Alternate names Gammera, Gamela, Gamara
Subtitle(s) Giant Monster (大怪獣,   Daikaijū),
The Devil's Envoy
(悪魔の使者,   Akuma no Shisha)
Species Giant turtle
Height 60 meters[1]
Weight 80 metric tons[1]
Other stats Underwater speed: 50 knots[1]
Flight speed: Mach 3[1] or more in outer space
Step length: 20 meters[1]
Controlled by Virians (temporarily)GvV,
Zanon (temporarily)GSM
Allies Children of Earth
Enemies Barugon, Gyaos, Viras, Guiron, Jiger, Zigra, Zanon
Created by Yonejiro Saito, Noriaki Yuasa
Played by Kanju Yagi et al.GtGM,
Teruo AragakiGvB-GvV,
Umenosuke IzumiGvGu-GvJ
First appearance Latest appearance
Gamera the Giant Monster Gamera Super Monster
Roar(s)
More roars

Gamera (ガメラ,   Gamera) is a giant turtle kaiju who first appeared in the 1965 Daiei film Gamera the Giant Monster.

A giant ancient turtle, Gamera was awakened from his slumber within an iceberg by a nuclear detonation in the Arctic. Gamera travelled to Japan and ravaged the city of Tokyo, but his rampage was halted when the JSDF lured him into a rocket ship and sent him into space. Gamera returned to Earth after his rocket was destroyed by a meteor, and did battle with Barugon, an even more dangerous monster. Gamera defeated Barugon, and humanity began to see him not as an enemy, but as the lesser of two evils. The following year, Gamera appeared to battle Gyaos, a huge man-eating bat-like creature. Gamera went out of his way to rescue a young child from Gyaos' clutches, and humanity came to realize that Gamera was firmly on their side. Over the following years, Gamera defended the human race from various evil monsters, be they from Earth or the depths of outer space. Gamera became a friend to the children of the world, travelling across the globe and even to alien planets in order to rescue them from monsters and alien invaders. Gamera perished in 1980, when he flew into the space pirate vessel Zanon, sacrificing his life to save Earth from the villainy of its captain.

Name

Gamera's name comes from the Japanese word kame (カメ), meaning "turtle," and ra (ラ), a common suffix in kaiju names. The "k-" sound may have been changed to "g-" in order to prevent his name from sounding like "camera." In the American edit of his debut film, Gamera's name was spelled as Gammera. Latin alphabet writing in Gamera's debut film and some English-language materials for the film Gamera vs. Viras spelled his name as Gamela.

Design

Gamera is a giant turtle with dark green skin. Gamera sometimes walks on all fours like a real turtle, but prefers to walk upright on his hind legs like a human. Gamera uses his forelimbs like human arms, and possesses five opposable digits on each hand. Gamera has a large rounded head with a pointed snout. Unlike real modern-day turtles, Gamera's mouth is full of teeth, along with two large tusks on his lower jaw that protrude upward from his mouth. Gamera has large, gentle-looking eyes that are usually white or yellow in color, which sometimes glow in the dark. Gamera's torso is surrounded by a large, round shell. The underbelly of Gamera's shell is flat with a brick-like texture, while its back is dome-shaped with ridges and spikes. Gamera has a long and thick tail that he drags on the ground behind him.

Personality

In his earliest film appearances, Gamera is portrayed as an aggressive and destructive creature that deliberately lays waste to Japan after being awakened. However, he is shown to not be truly malevolent, as he actively saves a young boy at one point. After defeating the much more dangerous monster Barugon in Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera is gradually seen as a heroic defender of Japan against other monsters. Gamera begins to actively rescue children from other monsters and alien invaders while fending off attacks on Japanese soil by enemy monsters. Gamera also no longer attacks human settlements, except when temporarily mind-controlled by the Virians in Gamera vs. Viras and by the Zanon in Gamera Super Monster.

The Japanese book Be Strong! Gamera speculates extensively upon Gamera's motivations and behaviors. It theorizes that Gamera may have exhibited destructive behavior in the early films due to an intense hunger which he developed while frozen in the Arctic; thus, he attacked Japan to feed on thermal and electrical energy rather than to deliberately harm humans. Furthermore, it is suggested that Gamera intentionally lured the attention of the Self-Defense Forces so that he could absorb thermal energy through their weapons.[2] According to this theory, Gamera's shift in demeanor can therefore be explained by his hunger being satisfied.[2]

The book additionally suggests that Gamera may not just save humans, but also animals and innocent kaiju. For example, when Gamera collapses over a waterfront and opens his mouth after being implanted with Jiger's child in Gamera vs. Jiger, he may have been attempting to safely free the baby monster through his mouth. It further explains that the reason for Gamera's kindness toward innocent beings may be because of his high intelligence and the lack of living creatures in his diet. He may have even grown to view his relationship with humans as a symbiotic one, as their use of weaponry against him simply provides him energy.[3] Gamera's gymnastics display in Gamera vs. Guiron and his playing of the "Gamera March" on Zigra's fins in Gamera vs. Zigra are also justified as attempts to entertain and calm the onlooking children.[4]

Origins

Gamera's origins are never explored in considerable depth within the films, but according to Dr. Hidaka, Gamera was an unusual species of turtle that inhabited the lost continent of Atlantis in ancient times. At some point, he became trapped within the Arctic ice after Atlantis disappeared, and remained frozen there for thousands of years. Modern Eskimos/Inuit continued to speak of Gamera in their folklore, where he was known as "the Devil's Envoy," and handed down an ancient stone carving depicting him in flight. Gamera was awakened from his ancient slumber in 1965 after a mysterious aircraft carrying nuclear weapons crashed in the Arctic, triggering a nuclear detonation that freed Gamera from the ice.

According to the book Be Strong! Gamera, Gamera was mistaken by humanity as a demon that would bring destruction and the depletion of resources.[5] He spent 8,000 years sealed beneath the Arctic ice, and was put there by the Atlanteans, who were concerned by his appetite for energy. The book details that the Atlanteans created a pitfall trap under an ice sheet and lured Gamera on top of it. When Gamera fell through, he was too weak to escape due to his fading thermal energy.[2] The book also suggests that the Inuit's fear of Gamera has been passed down for generations; that any information the Atlanteans had on Gamera was not preserved when the civilization fell;[5] that the ancient civilization of Mu was also once aware of Gamera; and that Gamera and Jiger may have fought each other more than 25,000 years ago, therefore meaning they would have recognized each other in Gamera vs. Jiger.[6]

Gamera's origin in Gamera Super Monster is complicated by the film's dialogue. The protagonist Keiichi becomes convinced that Gamera transformed from his pet turtle, as Gamera appears shortly after Keiichi released the turtle into the ocean. If this was true, it would conflict with not only Gamera the Giant Monster, in which Gamera is established to have existed since ancient times, but all of the rest of the films he had appeared in up to that point. However, a rundown of Gamera's background and anatomy included in the film's theater program states that he first emerged from "the ice of the Arctic Ocean", which corresponds to the events of Gamera the Giant Monster.[7] It being the same Gamera was also supported by screenwriter Nisan Takahashi who, when asked for the aforementioned book Be Strong! Gamera, explained that Gamera was simply summoned from elsewhere. The book explores the theory that Super Monster's Gamera is a second individual, though, which Takahashi complimented for being dreamlike.[8]

History

Showa era

Gamera the Giant Monster

During a dogfight between American and unidentified foreign planes in the Arctic, one of the foreign planes crashed, detonating the nuclear bomb it was carrying. The explosion caused the ice to split open, and Gamera emerged from under the ice and immediately sank a nearby research ship. Once Gamera reached Japan and proved immune to conventional weaponry, the JSDF developed a plan to temporarily freeze Gamera and flip him over onto his back using dynamite, believing that once that happened, Gamera would be helpless. The plan was put into action, and succeeded in flipping Gamera onto his back. Just when Gamera appeared to be doomed, however, he withdrew his head, limbs and tail into his shell, while fire began to spew out from the limbs' holes. Gamera began to spin like a disc and took flight, flying deeper into the country. As Gamera laid waste to Tokyo, the JSDF, in cooperation with the United States and the Soviet Union, developed a new plan to stop him, code-named "Z-Plan." Gamera was baited with fire into a large rocket on Izu Oshima, which closed and trapped him inside. The rocket then took off and carried Gamera into space on a one-way trip to Mars, saving Japan from the monster's wrath.

Gamera vs. Barugon

Six months after being launched into space, the rocket carrying Gamera to Mars was struck by a meteor, causing an explosion that destroyed the rocket and freed the monster. Gamera flew back to Earth and landed in Japan, where he destroyed Kurobe Dam before taking off and flying away again. Meanwhile, an opal brought back to Japan by a thief was revealed to be the egg of a giant lizard called Barugon, which, after his hatching, grew even larger from exposure to an infrared lamp. Barugon then rampaged through the Japanese countryside, eventually attacking Osaka. Gamera was attracted by the creature's presence, and confronted Barugon near Osaka Castle. After a brief battle, Barugon froze Gamera solid with his ice breath, then left him for dead in the castle's moat. While Barugon engaged in several confrontations with the JSDF, Gamera thawed and pursued his enemy. Gamera reengaged Barugon near Lake Biwa, overpowering him and dragging him into deep water, where Barugon finally drowned and dissolved. His enemy vanquished, Gamera flew away without casing any further destruction.

Gamera vs. Gyaos

Gamera appeared during a volcanic eruption to feed on the flames. He then hid in a mountainside until the monster Gyaos appeared from a cave. Gamera fought Gyaos and drove him back into his cave, although his arm was almost cut off. He then saved the child Gyaos was trying to eat and flew him back home. He then returned to the sea to heal his wound. Gamera later returned to attack Gyaos as the creature was attacking a city. He fought Gyaos in the air before he was thrown into the water. He managed to bite off Gyaos' foot before the creature escaped. Gyaos was lured to a container of artificial blood by the JSDF, where the hoped to trap the creature until sunrise, hoping the light would kill the creature. The plan failed, and Gyaos destroyed the trap, producing a fire that attracted Gamera again. This time, Gamera overpowered Gyaos and dragged the creature into the crater of a volcano, killing it. Gamera then flew away, leaving Japan safe.

Gamera vs. Viras

When an expedition force of Virians began travelling towards Earth, intent on invading and colonising the planet for its vast amounts of Nitrogen, Gamera intervened, destroying their spaceship just before it could reach Earth. However, a second expedition force soon followed their deceased comrades, and eventually arrived on Earth, trapping Gamera and two boy scouts, Masao and Jim, using their ship's Super Catch Ray. After Gamera set the children free, the aliens used the time limit of the ray's restraint to study Gamera's memories using their Videotron, where they learned of Gamera's love and desire to protect human children. Abducting Masao and Jim, the Virians ordered Gamera to follow their commands, or else they would execute their hostages, and then deployed their Brainwave Control Device to make Gamera a slave of the Virians, sending him to destroy the Okumusashi Dam and then rampage through Tokyo. Fortunately, Masao and Jim came to Gamera's aid, reversing the polarity of the Brainwave Control Device so he would disobey his controllers. After Gamera downed the Virian UFO, simultaneously fully breaking free of the mind control, he faced the combined Virians as Viras in battle. Though Gamera's battle against Viras was very difficult, including a moment where he was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach by Viras's knife-like head, he persevered, and eventually destroyed Viras after freezing him in the atmosphere, then dropping his adversary into the ocean, whereupon Viras exploded instantly.

Gamera vs. Guiron

Gamera came to an alien planet called Terra after a pair of brain-eating female aliens captured two boys in their spaceship. Shortly afterward, the Terrans' guardian monster Guiron fought and killed a Space Gyaos, Gamera fought Guiron, and was considered dead after Guiron lacerated his temples with his shurikens. Ultimately, Gamera was revived and confronted Guiron once again. This time, Gamera flipped Guiron upside down, sticking his blade-tipped head in the ground, and grabbed a rocket and lodged it into a hole in the side of Guiron's head, then ignited it with his fire breath. The rocket exploded, blowing off Guiron's head. Gamera helped repair the spaceship that brought the boys to Terra, then helped them get back to Earth.

Gamera vs. Jiger

Gamera appeared after a large statue called the Devil's Whistle was removed from Wester Island. Later, the female monster Jiger, awakened by the statue's removal, appeared from a volcano, and Gamera went over to fight her. Jiger fired quills into Gamera's arms and legs, keeping him from being able to withdraw into his shell (thus making him unable to fly) and allowing her to continue her rampage. Gamera painfully removed the quills and pursued Jiger, confronting her again in Osaka. Gamera held the upper hand in the fight until Jiger extended a stinger from her tail and stabbed Gamera in the chest. Gamera staggered away and fell headfirst into Osaka Bay, where his body slowly began to turn a deathly white. Jiger took the opportunity to toss the Devil's Whistle into the water and resumed her rampage across Japan. A group of children used a mini-sub to go into Gamera's body and find the cause of his discoloration. Inside, they discovered that Jiger had infected Gamera with her parasitic offspring. The children fought and killed the baby Jiger and escaped from Gamera's body. They then convinced the JSDF to revive Gamera using electricity. After being revived, Gamera flew to Expo '70 (which was being held at Osaka at the time in real life) and battled Jiger once again. Jiger used all of her attacks to try and fight off Gamera, but Gamera body-slammed into Jiger and stunned her. Gamera then recovered the Devil's Whistle from the ocean and shoved the statue through Jiger's skull, killing her. Gamera then flew back to Wester Island with Jiger's carcass.

Gamera vs. Zigra

Gamera came to the rescue to save a pair of children from the alien invader known as Zigra and his brainwashed human slave Lora Lee. After Gamera saved the children, Zigra took matters into his own hands and revealed himself as a kaiju-sized fish creature. Zigra engaged Gamera in battle underwater, overpowering him with his superiority in underwater combat. Gamera was revived by a bolt of lightning and attacked Zigra again, throwing him onto land, where he was rendered helpless. Gamera used a rock to play his theme song on Zigra's dorsal fins like a xylophone, then killed Zigra by burning him alive with his fire breath.

Gamera Super Monster

While the captain of the pirate spaceship Zanon began preparing an attack against Earth, a young boy named Keiichi purchased a pet turtle from a local pet store. However, believing the turtle would be happier in the wild, Keiichi let his turtle free in the ocean. After the Zanon's captain unleashed Gyaos on Nagoya, Keiichi and a trio of alien women named Spacewomen called out for Gamera to save them. Gamera, who Keiichi believed to be his pet turtle from earlier, appeared overhead and flew to Gyaos to challenge and ultimately defeat him. The Zanon's captain went on to deploy five more mind-controlled kaiju—Zigra, Viras, Jiger, Guiron, and Barugon—who Gamera also bested. The captain's plans were foiled once and for all when his agent Giruge betrayed him and sacrificed herself to stop him. Gamera then flew into space and collided with the Zanon, sacrificing himself to destroy it.

Abilities

Flight

Thermal energy

Gamera feeds on fire, electricity, lava, coal, oil, and nuclear material, all of which contribute to his ability to generate thermal energy, which he uses to sustain his bodily functions, propel himself into the air, or breathe fire. He was also able to draw energy from Barugon's Rainbow Death Ray. Gamera stores liquid fuel that he consumes, such as petroleum, in an organ called the Oil Bag (石油袋,   Sekiyu-bukuro). Solid materials that Gamera eats, such as coal, are stored in his Coal Bag (石炭袋,   Sekitan-bukuro) before being sent to his High-Temperature Furnace (高熱炉,   Kōnetsu-ro), in which any forms of fuel Gamera ingests, including petroleum, coal, fire, magma, missiles, and uranium, are gathered and burned. After this, the burned materials are sent to Gamera's Thermal Energy Conversion Intestine (熱エネルギー変換腸,   Netsu Enerugī Henkan Chō), which, as its name suggests, converts them into thermal energy. This energy powers Gamera's Heat Energy Heart (熱エネルギー心臓,   Netsu Enerugī Shinzō), which works the same way as other creatures' hearts but, due to it being powered by thermal energy, it possesses extraordinary power.

Gamera in flight

Gamera's most unique ability is his capacity to fly. Gamera retracts his head, limbs and tail into his shell, then jets of flame shoot out of its arm and leg holes. Gamera begins to spin rapidly, then takes flight. This technique is called spinning jets (回転ジェット,   kaiten jetto).[9] While flying, Gamera can extend his head and arms and fly in a straight line without spinning. Gamera's maximum flight speed within Earth's atmosphere is Mach 3, and he is able to fly both within Earth's atmosphere and in the vacuum of outer space. In Gamera vs. Guiron, Akio explained to Tom, who believed that Gamera was currently flying at Mach 3, that his flight speed to keep up with the Terran UFO must be exceeding escape velocity; Akio noted that Gamera must be faster than the Apollo 8 (over Mach 33), and would reach Mach 50 when he goes beyond the Solar System. While spinning, Gamera can remain low to the ground and spin into an enemy as a method of attack.

Flame Jet

Gamera breathing fire at Zigra

As mentioned, Gamera can channel his body's thermal energy into a stream of fire expelled from his mouth. This is referred to as a Flame Jet (火炎噴射,   Kaen Funsha) in the "Song of Gamera" and "Gamera March". The book Be Strong! Gamera also speculates that he may be able to use his Flame Jet while flying in his spinning jet form to accelerate his spin.[10]

An anatomical diagram for Gamera vs. Viras mentions Gamera instead spitting a Heat Ray (熱線,   Nessen) by mixing oxygen and hydrogen in his body.[11]

Physical strength

Thanks to his High-Temperature Muscles (高熱筋肉,   Kōnetsu Kin'niku), Gamera possesses muscular strength 10,000 times greater than that of a human. In addition, his muscles can withstand higher temperatures better than any conventional metal and are extremely durable. Gamera's immense strength allows him to overpower his enemies in physical combat and lift, throw, or drag them.

Durability

Due to his incredibly dense body tissues, Gamera is immune to all conventional weaponry, while his shell protects him from most attacks from other monsters. However, the underside of his shell is not as resilient, and can be penetrated by enemy attacks, such as the pointed tip of Viras' head. Guiron was able to penetrate the top of Gamera's shell by repeatedly stabbing the same spot with his head. Gamera is also resistant to extreme heat, and can submerge himself in molten magma without sustaining any injury. Gamera also possesses a healing factor, which allows him to survive his first encounters with opponents, then return to fight them again. When seriously injured, Gamera can enter a brief state of hibernation, which will allow him to almost completely heal all of his major injuries in a short period of time. Gamera is unharmed by Barugon's Rainbow Death Ray, and even feeds on its energy.

Amphibiousness

Gamera is able to breathe underwater and on land. While underwater, Gamera can swim at a speed of 50 knots. He also demonstrates the ability to breathe in a vacuum for an extended period of time, shown in the instances where he flies through space.

Intelligence

Gamera is very intelligent for a kaiju, let alone a reptile. He often prefers to retreat after his first encounter with an enemy where he learns its strengths and weaknesses, then return with a specific strategy in mind to defeat it. Gamera responds to human speech, particularly distress calls from children. In Gamera vs. Guiron, Gamera is able to repair a spaceship by welding it back together with his fire breath.

Telepathy

The book Be Strong! Gamera suggests that Gamera may possess telepathic abilities, as he seems to sense the presence of enemies from afar, and heard the pleas of Masao and Jim from inside of a submarine in Gamera vs. Viras.[4]

Electricity

An anatomical illustration states that Gamera can store electricity in his shell and then emit said electricity from it.[12]

Air breath

According to an anatomical illustration, Gamera can breath a powerful gale which has a velocity of 1,000 meters per second.[13]

Poison

Several anatomical illustrations note that Gamera can emit poison from his claws to stun foes.[12][14]

Weaknesses

Gamera's greatest weakness is to cold. Gamera was temporarily immobilized in his debut film when he was bombarded by the JSDF's special cadmium freezing bombs, and the monster Barugon froze Gamera solid for many days with the chilling liquid it sprayed from its tongue. The underside of Gamera's shell is also susceptible to attack. In Gamera vs. Jiger, Gamera was rendered completely comatose when Jiger infected him with her parasitic offspring. Some enemies have exploited Gamera's allegiance to children to gain leverage against him or lure him into a trap by kidnapping or threatening children.

Video games

Comics

Gamera the Giant Monster (1994)

The manga presents itself as a sequel to Gamera Super Monster, with Gamera having been revived using an artificial sun based on Atlantean technology, which also alters his appearance to resemble the Gamera from the Heisei Trilogy. Afterwards, Gamera is sent to the past with a time machine to defeat evil kaiju and watch over humanity.[15]

Trivia

  • Although Gamera was not precisely depicted as a protector of humanity in Gamera vs. Barugon, a scrapped scene would have shown him saving people frozen in Osaka.[16]
  • According to Gamera.jp, the Showa Gamera's favorite foods are oil, coal, high voltage electricity, missiles, and nuclear power. His least favorite foods are carrots and onions.[1]
  • Gamera's inclinations toward humanity, light, and nuclear energy were intentionally chosen as a contrast to Godzilla, who detests those things due to nuclear testing.[17]
  • Yonggary in the 1967 South Korean film Yongary, Monster from the Deep bears several similarities to Gamera, both in abilities and in personality.
  • In the late 1960s, the Japanese toy company Nitto sold model kits of a monster named "Gamaron" who was repurposed from rejected molds of Gamera. His archrival, Wanigon, was similarly based on rejected molds of Barugon.
    • In 2000, the novelty toy company Amapro brought back Gamaron and Wanigon as vinyl figures, alongside an accompanying direct-to-video tokusatsu short film titled Wanigon vs. Gamaron.

References

This is a list of references for Gamera (Showa). These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Showa Gamera data - Gamera.jp
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 OMEGA Commandos 1995, pp. 18-25, 32-35
  3. OMEGA Commandos 1995, pp. 170-175
  4. 4.0 4.1 OMEGA Commandos 1995, pp. 36-37.
  5. 5.0 5.1 OMEGA Commandos 1995, pp. 18-25
  6. OMEGA Commandos 1995, pp. 142-145.
  7. Tokuma Shoten 1980, p. 10.
  8. OMEGA Commandos 1995, pp. 38-39.
  9. Movie Walker Press, 2021, 金子修介監督、平成ガメラ三部作を語る!令和ガメラにも「やる気十分」
  10. OMEGA Commandos 1995, pp. 12-13.
  11. Tumblr nycjx7aMnj1txs0f3o2 500.jpg
  12. 12.0 12.1 Anatomy of Gamera.jpg
  13. Gamera vs Gyaos Anatomy.jpeg
  14. Gamera Anatomy.jpg
  15. @bigfire_tada (12 January 2020). "マンガボーイズ版ガメラ、昭和ガメラと平成ガメラを「『宇宙怪獣ガメラ』でザノン号と相討ちになったガメラは転生したことで姿が変わり、人類を守るため過去の地球に送られて歴史が変わったことで、平成ガメラは昭和ガメラの歴史とは異なる別アースとなった」という説明で繋げていてすげえ興奮する". X.
  16. OMEGA Commandos 1995, p. 37.
  17. OMEGA Commandos 1995, pp. 194-197.

Bibliography

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