Kaiju Profile: Gamera (Heisei Trilogy)
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The Heisei Gamera kaiju profile is the 46th episode of Wikizilla's Kaiju Profiles video series. The main video and History sections were uploaded on May 15, 2019. The Design section was uploaded on May 25.
Written by The King of the Monsters, Astounding Beyond Belief, Les, Titanollante
Edited by Titanollante
Narrated by Kyodai Kino
Hey kaiju fans! I'm Kyodai Kino, and today we'll be taking a look at the Guardian of the Universe, Gamera from the Heisei Trilogy!
In 1995, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the original "Gamera" film, Daiei chose to reboot the character in a brand-new film with director Shusuke Kaneko at the helm and the studio's former rival Toho providing theatrical distribution. "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" proved to be a critical darling, providing a sleek, cutting-edge update to a character who had been dormant for over a decade. This kicked off a trilogy of films starring Gamera which remain highly-regarded classics of the kaiju genre. Rather than the child-friendly giant turtle of the Showa series, Gamera was reinvented as a bio-engineered guardian created by the super-ancient civilization that inspired the myth of Atlantis, who developed him through their mastery of Mana, the life energy of the Earth. When the Atlanteans' previous genetically engineered creation, the vampire bat-like Gyaos, turned against their masters and began multiplying out of control, Gamera ended their reign of terror. While the Atlanteans' fate was already sealed, the surviving members of the civilization sealed Gamera away within an atoll containing an obelisk explaining his purpose and several magatama. They hoped that Gamera, the last hope, would one day awaken to defend future generations should the shadow of evil, Gyaos, ever return.
While only one Gamera emerged in the modern day in response to the reemergence of Gyaos, a graveyard of Gamera skeletons was discovered on the ocean floor in 1999. The character Shiya Kurata proposed that these were prototypes for the last Gamera, or "beta versions" as he called them. The Last Hope, Matt Frank's (now-official!) graphic novel prequel to the trilogy, details the creation of Gamera and the downfall of the Atlantean civilization in greater depth, but we'll touch on that later.
There is A LOT of design process and behind-the-scenes details for this Gamera. As such, it's getting its own dedicated video soon after this one. Make sure to check it out!
Same deal here. The blow-by-blow of Gamera's story demands its own separate video. Now onto "Abilities"!
Gamera is capable of shooting Plasma Fireballs from his mouth, often in groups of three. These fireballs are extremely powerful, instantly destroying a young Gyaos and doing the same to a Hyper Gyaos after three consecutive hits. They can easily destroy buildings and set a great deal of Kyoto ablaze after Iris deflected them with his tentacles. In addition, Gamera can fire more powerful variants called High Plasma, which possess an energy output at least 120% greater than his normal fireballs. He is able to form High Plasma fireballs in numerous ways: absorbing the flames from a refinery explosion, exploiting the high oxygen concentration around a Legion Plant, or simply charging the plasma energy in his mouth for a longer amount of time than usual.
Plasma Conversion: Gamera's blood can absorb heat, flames, high voltage current, and nuclear fuel. These energies are converted into electrons, protons, and atomic nuclei in his blood within an organ called the Thermal Energy Conversion Furnace, after which they are stored as plasma energy which Gamera can use. Life energy from the Earth, Mana, can be converted as well.
Ultimate Plasma: When pushed to his absolute limit, Gamera is able to summon massive tamounts of Mana and absorb the energy into his body. He converts the Mana into plasma until it reaches his body's storage limit, then opens the plastron of his shell, directly exposing his Plasma Conversion Furnace and unleashing a massive beam of plasma energy. This attack blasted the Mother Legion to pieces and left a massive crater in the ground. While it is Gamera's most powerful attack, its use comes at a great price: it greatly depletes the Earth's Mana, creating an environment in which Gyaos can flourish. This is what leads to the desperate situation in "G3."
When Iris pinned his hand to a wall and threatened to blast him with copies of his Plasma Fireballs, Gamera called upon a one-shot ability to defeat his enemy called the Banishing Fist, or Banishing Sword. Gamera severed his own trapped hand with a Plasma Fireball and absorbed Iris' fireballs with his stump arm, forming a burning plasma fist which he plunged into Iris' chest wound, causing him to explode.
Gamera possesses two different flight modes. The first involves retracting all of his limbs and his head and tail into his shell and then firing rockets out of the arm and leg holes, thus allowing him to fly by spinning like a flying saucer through the air. His brain and eyes were specially designed to withstand this motion. While battling Iris in this mode, he performed an attack called the Shell Cutter, using his shell like a saw blade. In the other mode, Gamera retracts only his legs and fires rockets from the leg holes, while keeping his head exposed and his arms at his sides, flying like an airplane. In "G1," Gamera's arms retain their normal shape in this flight mode, while in the following two films they change shape into flippers reminiscent of a sea turtle's, which function like aircraft wings.
Gamera is covered in a shell durable enough to protect him from Gyaos' supersonic scalpel. The underbelly of Gamera's shell is considerably more vulnerable than its armor-plated back, however, as it was penetrated by Mother Legion's legs and impaled completely by Iris' arm spear. However, even the back of the shell was pierced by Mother Legion's Microwave Shell and Iris' supersonic scalpel. He is somewhat vulnerable to conventional weapons, with surface-to-air missiles shooting him down and a tank barrage knocking him on his back, but received no apparent injuries from the attacks.
Gamera's cells possess a remarkable healing factor. When injured severely enough, he will fall into a hibernation-like state in which most of his energy will be used to quickly and completely heal his injuries. Following his near-death during the explosion of the Legion Plant in Sendai, Gamera's external cells carbonized and solidified while the underlying cells regenerated, and he was only able to revive himself from his death-like stillness by absorbing a large amount of Mana and cutting off his connection with Asagi. After resurrecting, all of Gamera's injuries were healed, including a large section of his shell which had been blasted off by Mother Legion.
Gamera possesses immense physical strength, demonstrated most dramatically when he tore off Mother Legion's horn. He can also regulate his strength, breaking through Iris' chest with his Rushing Claw attack but extracting Ayana without crushing her. His other melee techniques include the Hard Slap, which knocked a Gyaos out of the sky and into a refinery, and the Break Fang, a tusked grip so strong that Super Gyaos had to sever her own foot to escape it. Prior to his battle with her, Gamera's Elbow Claws were hidden under his skin, but he unsheathed one and used it to slice into her leg. After this point, the claws were permanently exposed on both of his elbows. Gamera also has Calf Claws on his legs, though he didn't use them during his battles.
Gamera is an extremely adept swimmer, able to achieve speeds up to 180 knots, and can breathe underwater for extended periods of time in a hibernation-like state. He can also take flight directly from underwater, launching himself into the sky from beneath the waves.
Connection with Humanity: Gamera is able to form a telepathic bond with a human through a magatama, granting that individual the role of his priest or priestess. Using this connection, Asagi was able to order Gamera to retreat while facing a Gyaos at Mt. Fuji, and seemed to play a role in his use of a High Plasma fireball to destroy the same Gyaos. It does have drawbacks, however, as she experienced the same injuries as Gamera and maintain a similar state of being; when Gamera was resting at the bottom of the sea to heal, Asagi was constantly sleeping as well. Their connection diminished after Gamera defeated Super Gyaos, and he was forced to sever it entirely to revive himself following his first battle with Mother Legion, causing all of his magatama to shatter.
Chromosomal Manipulation: Like Gyaos, Gamera can alter his own chromosomes to make his body more suited to combat, a handy in-universe explanation for the different designs in each of his films. While Gyaos' supersonic scalpel was able to pierce his skin in "G1," by "G3" his skin could deflect the same ray from a Hyper Gyaos.
Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe: Although its status as canon to the trilogy is debatable, Dark Horse Publishing released a four-issue limited series of comic books set one year after the events of the first film, written by Dave Chipps and illustrated by Mozart Couto. Incredibly, the series was published before "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" premiered in the U.S., although Asagi and Nagamine were both main characters. More in line with the Showa series in terms of tone, the story saw Gamera take on a cloned Super Gyaos in Mexico, Zigra in the Pacific Ocean, and Viras in Paris. Along the way, Viras' creator/mind-slave Greta Karbone managed to tap into the frequency at which Gamera's magatama operated, allowing her to take temporary control of him.
Gamera vs. Barugon: In 2003, Kadokawa published a manga adaptation of the film "Gamera vs. Barugon" set between the events of "Gamera 2" and "3," although its canonicity is ambiguous. After destroying Mother Legion, Gamera faced off against another Gyaos. Meanwhile, an expedition accidentally awakened an ancient monster called Barugon deep within a cave. A failed prototype created by the Atlanteans prior to Gamera, the lizard-like monster grew rapidly and descended upon Tokyo. With the JSDF unable to harm the creature, Gamera intervened, but found himself frozen by Barugon's icy breath. After he thawed out, their final confrontation took place atop a giant iceberg Barugon had created. Gamera prevailed with a well-aimed fireball to the face, knocking Barugon off of the iceberg to his death in the water below.
The Last Hope: In 2017, Matt Frank self-published a prequel dōjinshi to the Gamera trilogy titled The Last Hope, which he sold exclusively at G-Fest XXIV. It didn't remain a dōjinshi for long though, as Phase 6 published it in Japan in 2018 with Kadokawa's approval alongside Dark Horse's Gamera comics. The Last Hope chronicles the origins of Gamera and Gyaos as well as the fall of the civilization that created them. When Atlantis was attacked by giant serpents called Garasharp, the Atlanteans developed Gyaos to stop them. But with their food source depleted, the Gyaos quickly developed an appetite for humanity. Atlantis created several guardians called Gamera with the use of Mana. Unlike Gyaos, these guardians possessed a link to humanity through special magatama that mentally bonded them to a human priest or priestess. All but one perished driving off the Gyaos, leaving Atlantis vulnerable when they returned, accompanied by a gigantic Garasharp. In order to ensure humanity's future, the last Gamera took it upon himself to destroy the Atlantean capital, knowing its consumption of Mana was what attracted the monsters. The survivors commemorated Gamera's sacrifice and entrusted him to future generations by sealing him within an atoll along with magatama and a stone obelisk explaining his purpose. Mahiro Maeda also illustrated a 12-page comic about the final days of Atlantis for a making-of book about "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe."
Gamera 4: In a 2002 interview, director Shusuke Kaneko said that if "Gamera 3" had grossed one billion yen at the box office that he would have moved ahead with a "Gamera 4." While still praised to this day as a classic of the genre, the film only grossed 600 million yen during its 1999 theatrical run. Nonetheless, Shinpei Hayashiya directed a fan-made sequel to "Gamera 3" titled "Gamera 4: Truth." While it received official theatrical distribution by Kadokawa in theaters in 2003, it has rarely been seen since then and has never been released on home video. Aside from its recognition from Kadokawa, "G4" is notable for featuring actor Yukijiro Hotaro reprising his role as Osako. The upcoming documentary "Kaiju Gaiden," which chronicles fan-made kaiju films throughout the decades, is set to include footage and interviews from the film.
Video Games: The Gamera trilogy was the inspiration for a handful of tie-in video games, including "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" for the Nintendo Game Boy, "Gamera: Gyaos Destruction Strategy" for the Super Famicom, and most notably "Gamera: 2000" for the Sony PlayStation—an arcade-style space shooter in which the player takes on the role of a member of the Science Defense Academy who gives orders to Gamera. They fight against an invading alien civilization known as the Bio-Mechas, who have at their disposal an army of genetically-engineered mutant "Neo-Gyaos." The Heisei incarnation of Gamera has made appearances in other video games long after the close of the trilogy, including the pachinko game "CR Gamera" and "Gamera: Battle" for iOS. Most recently, Gamera was featured in the survival-horror game "City Shrouded in Shadow," combating the Symbiotic Legion and trying to destroy their Plant. While he is friendly to the human characters, the player can accidentally get crushed during his battle with the Legion. Godzilla's in the game too, along with many other icons of Japanese sci-fi, but of course their paths never cross.
Capsule Monster: A Gamera suit from "Guardian of the Universe" appeared in two direct-to-video films by Noriaki Yuasa, who directed all but one of the Showa Gamera films. In "Cosplay Senshi Cutie Knight," Yuasa himself played a character who gives one of the heroines a device to summon a human-sized Gamera. He returned in "Cosplay Senshi Cutie Knight 2," released the following year.
Gamera vs. Godzilla: The Heisei Gamera did meet Godzilla on one occasion, directed by Shusuke Kaneko no less… in the form of two Bandai figures wielded by kids on a playground. Naturally, the Godzilla depicted is from "GMK," which he also directed. This moment, from episode 11 of "Ultraman Max," was only meant to appear in the broadcast version, per Tsuburaya Productions' agreement with Toho and Kadokawa. The English dub of the show available on Toku also includes it. Kadokawa pitched a proper crossover between the two franchises in the early 2000's, but Toho declined, likely due to the prospect of having to share profits with Kadokawa while providing the more marketable monster star. Kadokawa did finally produce "Gamera the Brave" for the series' 40th anniversary in 2006, though it wasn't connected to the Heisei trilogy.
That's it for our Heisei Gamera profile… took us long enough, eh? If you haven't watched the "History" and "Design" videos, feel free to do that now. In any case, thank you for watching all the way to the end. See you later, kaiju fans.
This "HISTORY" video relays Gamera's role across the Shusuke Kaneko-directed Heisei Gamera trilogy. For the Guardian of the Universe's abilities and trivia, you can check out the full Kaiju Profile.
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe: While transporting a shipment of plutonium off the coast of the Philippines, the Japanese transport ship Kairyu-Maru ran aground on a rocky atoll which inexplicably proceeded to float away. A deadly nuclear accident was avoided, but a team led by insurance investigator Naoya Kusanagi and a crewmember from the Kairyu-Maru’s escort ship Nojima, Yoshinari Yonemori, sought to track down the atoll.
After locating it, they discovered several comma-shaped beads, or magatama, scattered across its rocky surface, as well as a stone obelisk inscribed with rune characters. Yonemori noticed that the stone structure seemed to be at body temperature and heard a faint heartbeat just before the obelisk shattered and the atoll began to shake and break apart. He was plunged into the water, and saw a colossal shape emerge from the atoll.
In Fukuoka, preparations were underway to capture three mysterious man-eating flying monsters. Ornithologist Mayumi Nagamine, in cooperation with the Nagasaki police and the Japanese government, planned to lure them inside the Fukuoka Dome using floodlights and a bait of raw meat, then sedate and trap them inside. Even with the sea monster approaching the city, the plan was carried out, with two of the creatures successfully caged and the third escaping. As the creature flew out toward the water, the sea monster erupted from the waves and swatted it out of the sky, sending it crashing into a nearby refinery and killing it in an explosion.
The monster came ashore and began making his way toward the Fukuoka Dome, causing destruction in his wake while the government was unable to approve countermeasures in time. As the monster reached the Dome, the flying creatures awoke and escaped from their cells, then flew out of the open roof. The other monster tucked his limbs into his shell and propelled himself into the air before soaring away like a flying saucer.
Kusanagi discussed his findings with Yonemori at his home. He revealed that the rune characters on the obelisk seemed to match those of ancient Japanese peoples, and that the magatama were composed of an unknown metal. He believed this metal was orichalcum, mentioned by Plato in his writings on Atlantis. The runes on the obelisk spoke of “the Last Hope, Gamera” and expressed hope that he awaken with “the Shadow of Evil, Gyaos.” They determined that the sea monster from the atoll must have been Gamera while the flying monsters were Gyaos. Yonemori gave Kusanagi’s teenage daughter Asagi one of the magatama, which glowed as she held it.
Gamera next came to the rescue of Nagamine, Yonemori, and a young boy trapped on a bridge in the Japanese countryside, killing the Gyaos menacing them with a plasma fireball. The last Gyaos appeared soon after and fired its supersonic scalpel beam at the humans on the bridge, only for Gamera to block it with his hand. Gyaos fled with Gamera in pursuit. This proved to Nagamine, Yonemori, and Kusanagi that Gamera was on their side, but the Japanese government deemed him to be the greater threat and was still determined to capture the last Gyaos.
The JSDF mobilized against Gamera, shooting him down over Mt. Fuji while he was pursuing Gyaos. Asagi felt drawn to Gamera and convinced a cab driver to bring her to the battlefield so she could see him. As Gamera was bombarded by artillery and missiles, Gyaos returned to the scene. Asagi begged Gamera to flee, and he obliged. Just before he flew away, Gyaos’s ray slashed into his arm, and Asagi suddenly received the same injury. While Gamera returned to the ocean, she collapsed.
Yonemori and Nagamine determined that by touching the magatama, Asagi had been given the role of a priestess to Gamera. While Asagi slept in her bed, Gamera rested on the ocean floor, his injuries gradually healing. In the meantime, the last Gyaos continued to feed and grow, finally maturing into Super Gyaos, and descended on Tokyo. The JSDF was unable to stop the creature, which fed on the helpless populace before nesting on the observation deck of the Tokyo Tower.
Kusanagi and his daughter arrived at the JSDF’s base of operations in the city and warned them that Gamera was coming. True to Asagi’s prediction, Gamera erupted from underground and blasted Gyaos’ nest with a fireball, destroying her eggs. The two ancient enemies battled across the city. After a fierce tooth-and-claw scuffle on the ground, Gamera took flight with Gyaos in pursuit and Asagi and her allies observing from a helicopter. Upon reaching the upper atmosphere, Gamera bit down on his enemy’s leg and plummeted back downward. Gyaos severed its foot with its beam to free itself from Gamera’s grip, while he plunged right into a factory and was consumed by an explosion. Gyaos landed nearby and seemed victorious, but Asagi placed her hand upon the magatama and clasped hands with her father. As the magatama glowed, Gamera absorbed the surrounding flames and faced down Gyaos once again.
Gyaos charged its supersonic scalpel while Gamera spat a High Plasma Fireball at the beast’s head, blasting it clean off. As Gamera waded back into the ocean, Asagi found she could no longer read his mind. Nagamine remarked that more Gyaos eggs were likely still hidden around the world, and that if they hatched, Gamera might not be there to stop them next time. Asagi replied that she was sure Gamera would return.
Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion: A year after defeating Gyaos, Gamera appeared from the ocean and flew to Sapporo, where the Symbiotic Legion had placed their enormous plant. Gamera destroyed the plant with his high plasma fireballs before it could seed and obliterate the city, but was set upon by the Legion swarm. The creatures crawled all over Gamera’s body and tore into his flesh, bringing him to the ground. Several Legion were drawn to a nearby electrical transformer, allowing Gamera to take flight and escape back to the ocean, killing the Legion still clinging to him.
Japan would soon face bigger problems as a second plant appeared in Sendai and prepared to seed. Civilians were evacuated from the city via two helicopters, with Asagi and her friend boarding one of them. Midori Honami, the curator of the Sapporo Science Center who was assisting the JSDF in combating the Legion, helped them into one of the choppers as Gamera flew overhead, trying to stop the plant from seeding. Suddenly, the gigantic spear-tipped legs of the Mother Legion erupted from the ground and knocked him out of the sky. Gamera held Legion back just long enough for the final chopper to take off safely, but she impaled him with her legs and blasted off the corner of his shell with her Microwave Shell. She burrowed away just as the plant prepared to launch its seed. Gamera limped toward the plant and attempted to uproot it, but knew he was too late to stop it. He then threw himself in front of the plant and took the full force of the explosion, which also leveled Sendai. Gamera stopped the Legion from launching a seed into space, but seemingly at the cost of his life.
The JSDF set up a defense line to try to stop Mother Legion from reaching Tokyo. Asagi insisted to Honami that Gamera wasn’t dead, and the two of them traveled to the ruins of Sendai where onlookers had gathered around his motionless body. As Asagi held her magatama in her hand, the sparks given off by nearby fires began to swirl above Gamera, taking the shape of a giant magatama before flowing into him. As he rose up, fully healed, the magatama shattered in Asagi’s hand. Gamera wasted no time and flew to the outskirts of Tokyo to confront Mother Legion, who had wiped out the majority of the defense line. Gamera struggled to hold his ground against his foe, while her swarm threatened to turn the battle permanently in her favor. Honami’s colleague Obitsu was able to convince a nearby power substation to switch on, attracting the Legion swarm to its power lines. His ally Colonel Watarase then ordered JSDF helicopters to open fire on the stationary Soldier Legion, eliminating them all. Supported by the JSDF, Gamera turned the tide of battle against Mother Legion and was able to tear off her horn.
However, this only served to enrage her as she began firing searing red whips of energy from her forehead, which tore into Gamera’s body. Left with no other option, he summoned a huge amount of energy from around the world. The plastron on his shell opened and from it, he fired a massive beam of energy which obliterated Mother Legion. As the JSDF looked on at the victorious Gamera, he took flight and soared high into the sky above. The victory had come at a cost though, as Gamera had been forced to sever his connection to Asagi and therefore all of humanity in order to rise from the dead. Humanity was left to wonder if Gamera would still be their ally if they proved to be a danger to the planet.
Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris: Three years after Gamera’s victory over Legion, a graveyard of what appeared to be Gamera skeletons was discovered on the ocean floor. In addition, newly evolved Hyper Gyaos began to appear in force around the world. Gamera pursued two of the creatures in the skies over Shibuya, shooting one down with a fireball. He landed to finish it off at point-blank range, setting much of the surrounding area ablaze. The second Gyaos attacked him, and he caused even more carnage in his desperation to destroy it. He finally managed to blast it to pieces, sending burning flesh raining onto terrified civilians nearby. Gamera promptly took flight and continued hunting down the Gyaos around the world, leaving a ward of Tokyo in ruins.
Mayumi Nagamine, attempting to understand the sudden surge in Gyaos activity, met with Asagi, who had returned to Japan after looking abroad for answers about Gamera. In her travels, she learned of the concept of Mana, the supposed life energy of everything on Earth. Gamera seemed to consume and draw power from Mana, while Gyaos thrived in environments when Mana was low. To rise from the dead and defeat Legion, Gamera had consumed a tremendous amount of Mana and depleted it, allowing Gyaos to re-emerge and evolve at an unprecedented scale. With his connection to humanity gone and his enemies overrunning the world, Gamera had become desperate and reckless in his crusade. But even with her mental link with Gamera gone, Asagi still believed that he was on their side. The JSDF felt differently, however, and designated Gamera as its biggest enemy.
Meanwhile, a young woman named Ayana Hirasaka awakened a strange demonic creature within a shrine in the village of Asuka, Nara. Ayana, who blamed Gamera for killing her parents during his 1995 battle with Super Gyaos in Tokyo, named the creature Iris and vowed to raise him to take revenge against Gamera. Iris grew quickly and attempted to fuse himself with Ayana, only for Tatsunari Moribe, a classmate of Ayana’s whose family guarded over the shrine holding the monster, to cut her free from the creature. Ayana was taken to a hospital, while the enraged Iris went on a rampage through the village, killing its inhabitants and growing into a gigantic monster.
Mito Asakura, an occultist member of the Japanese Cabinet Secretariat and supposed descendant of the Atlanteans, and game programmer Shinya Kurata, who both believed Gamera needed to die so that Gyaos could reduce the human population and “save” the world, took interest in Ayana’s bond with Iris and attempted to exploit it by bringing her to a shrine in Kyoto. Nagamine analyzed tissue samples Iris left behind, determining that he was a Gyaos mutation that could fuse with a human and evolve himself further. She traveled to Kyoto with Asagi and confronted Shinya, who crowed that Gamera’s defense of humanity made him weak. He also believed the Gamera skeletons discovered on the ocean floor were “beta versions” discarded once the Atlanteans successfully created the finished Gamera, a vessel they infused with Mana. Nagamine and Asagi tried to leave Kyoto with Ayana, but as they reached Kyoto Station, the entire city was struck by a typhoon, halting all travel.
In the meantime, the JSDF had unsuccessfully assaulted the adult form of Iris, which wiped out the attacking troops and began flying toward Kyoto. Fighter jets pursued the monster but were interrupted by the arrival of Gamera, who engaged in a dogfight with Iris. The JSDF was ordered to shift its target from Iris to Gamera, and shot him down. Iris landed in Kyoto unopposed and began making his way to Ayana. Gamera flew overhead and spat fireballs at Iris, who swatted them away with his tentacles, setting Kyoto ablaze.
Gamera landed and the two monsters stared each other down before beginning to fight. As the monsters’ battle drew closer to Kyoto Station, Iris impaled Gamera on his arm blade, seriously wounding him. Asagi realized that Ayana was linked to Iris much like she was once linked to Gamera, and begged her to stop. Shinya and Asakura explained that this demon was meant to kill Gamera, and would save the world by allowing humanity to be destroyed. Asakura grabbed Ayana’s magatama and attempted to command Iris herself. Gamera and Iris barreled into the station, killing Asakura and crushing Shinya under debris soon after.
With Gamera unconscious, Moribe tried to attack Iris with the dagger he had saved Ayana with, but the creature threw him aside. Iris then attempted to fuse with Ayana once more, this time against her will. Gamera got back to his feet and plunged his fist into Iris’ chest, enveloping Ayana. Iris bellowed in rage and pinned Gamera’s hand to the wall with his arm blade. As Iris drained Gamera’s blood and his tentacles formed plasma fireballs of their own, Gamera was forced to make a quick decision.
Just before Iris unleashed his attack, he severed his trapped hand with a fireball, pulling Ayana free at the same time. Gamera absorbed the plasma on his stump arm, forming a fiery fist which he drove directly into Iris’ chest wound. Iris roared in agony and finally exploded. Gamera walked over Iris’ shattered corpse before setting Ayana down next to Asagi and Nagamine. Nagamine tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate her, but she awakened after Gamera let out a loud roar. Ayana asked why Gamera would save her, and was embraced by Moribe. Ayana begged for forgiveness as the wounded Gamera walked out into the burning cityscape.
As thousands of Hyper Gyaos descended on the city, the JSDF officially changed its target from Gamera to Gyaos. Asagi declared that Gamera would keep fighting, even alone. Nagamine responded that Gamera wasn’t alone.
That wraps up Gamera's role across his Heisei trilogy. If you've not done so already, go ahead and check out the Kaiju Profile now. Seeya!
Greetings kaiju fans, I'm Kyodai Kino, here to welcome you all to Wikizilla's Creating Kaiju on the Heisei Gamera. Let's fly right in!
For "Guardian of the Universe," Mahiro Maeda of the animation studio GONZO was employed to redesign Gamera and Gyaos. Shinji Higuchi was also hired to help design the monsters, and went on to serve as the director of special effects for the entire trilogy. The pair initially wanted Gamera to resemble a "flying sea turtle," with the idea that both of his arms would flatten into fin-like wings during flight. Daiei, however, rejected the concept and forced Maeda and Higuchi to base Gamera's appearance more on land turtles. They also turned down Higuchi's suggestion to give Gamera elbow claws to accentuate his elbows, but he snuck them in anyway by making them retractable and saving them for the very end of the film.
Some of Maeda's designs hewed closer to Gamera's appearance in the Showa series, but he made Gamera's shell and chest more rounded, basing their shape on those of real turtles. He felt a smoother, circular shell would appear more aerodynamic. Considering the original Gamera was linked to Inuit mythology in his debut film, Maeda attempted to design the new Gamera to look like he came from ancient Chinese mythology, which he said had a similar motif. Maeda's "decided design" for Gamera ended up differing from the appearance of the finished suits: specifically, the shapes of his arms and abdomen, as well as the balance between the sizes of his head and body. During the modeling process, Tomo Haraguchi and his team likely made these modifications due to the physical limitations of an actor in a costume. The basis for the suits was a 3-shaku (Japanese foot) concept model, rather than any single piece of concept art.
Gamera was portrayed by suit actors Takateru Manabe and Jun Suzuki for his Heisei debut. According to Higuchi, shorter actors served several purposes: "I wanted to shoot a large amount of low angle footage of Gamera and Gyaos, and the only way to avoid having the ceiling of the set be seen in the footage was to have short actors play the monsters," and "If the monster actors are tall, the miniature sets must be large, but if the monster actors are short, smaller sets can be used. We saved money by using small sets because it costs more to construct and maintain larger sets than smaller ones. In addition, if the monster actors are short, only two people are needed to help them get in and out of their costumes."
A team of modelers led by Tomo Haraguchi constructed three suits for Gamera, one apiece for action, close-up, and water scenes. The close-up suit's head was fitted with a remote control mechanism to open and close its mouth, outsourced to the Japanese company up.art. One of the suits also featured orange lights in its eyes, although they were only used in the special report trailer due to opposition from Higuchi and special effects cinematographer Hiroshi Kidokoro. The water suit was often cut apart and repurposed during filming; its legs were at one point removed… [i.e.] one of its arms was removed and modified to depict his hidden elbow claw.
An upper body "muppet" made from the same mold as the Gamera suits was used to create movements and facial expressions which would have been impossible otherwise. Its internal mechanism was operated by wires. A variety of scale models were used to portray Gamera flying, including at least two 3-shaku models and four 1-shaku models for distant shots. An additional model of Gamera's shell was created as reference for a CG model, which was used for his body's rotation during flight. For Gamera's regeneration underwater, a stationary 3-shaku miniature was used. This was later modified to feature a moving head and arms for certain shots during the JSDF's assault on Gamera at the foot of Mount Fuji.
Animation studio GONZO was employed once again to design the monsters for "Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion." They adopted rejected design elements from "G1," such as a smaller head with sharper features and a high mobility flight mode where Gamera's arms transform into wings, for his new look. The elbow claws which Daiei had rejected for the previous film were also made permanently visible in the new design. Maeda said he was satisfied with the suit design from the previous film and was at first hesitant to redesign Gamera too heavily, but he felt he could make several adjustments to make Gamera appear more aerodynamic.
A clay maquette of Gamera's finalized design for "G2" served as the basis for the suits. As in the previous film, separate suits were created for "action" and "close-ups." Tomo Haraguchi was initially in charge of modeling the suits, but after a certain point of development, modeling assistant Miki Takahama took over. Despite the changes to Gamera's head, the body was mostly unchanged from "G1," though its dimensions were altered to better fit new suit actor Akira Ohashi. Tatsuya Abe of up.art designed an internal mechanism for Gamera's eyes which allowed them to move. To depict Gamera covered in Soldier Legion, miniature models of the Legion with built-on hooks were attached onto the Gamera suit. A new muppet similar to the one from the previous film was also created, now with a wider range of motion in its neck.
Miki Takahama created clay prototypes of Gamera's wing-shaped fins to scale with those of the suit. Three flying Gamera props were created: a 1-shaku, a 3-shaku, and a larger one in scale with the suits. The water suit from "G1" was repurposed and modified to portray Gamera's "carbonized" state following the explosion of the Legion Plant in Sendai, in addition to a 3-shaku prop for long shots. Consisting only of Gamera's upper body and with no actor inside, the suit was propped up by its arms. Another, 1/3 scale prop of Gamera was created for long shots, its arms operated with wires. Gamera was also portrayed through computer graphics in some shots which were difficult to accomplish with practical effects, such as his rotating disc flight mode and shots of the Soldier Legion swarming over him.
Mahiro Maeda was once again in charge of designing the monsters for "Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris," with Shinji Higuchi providing a great deal of ideas and input to the design process. At the design stage, Gamera's final attack against Iris was not yet decided, and so the filmmakers considered having him reuse his Ultimate Plasma attack from the previous film. For this reason, some concept art showed the port on Gamera's plastron from which he fired the attack permanently open. Maeda said he felt that the more extreme, stylized designs Higuchi created for "G1" were more or less brought back for the third film. For Gamera's standard flight mode, Maeda reinstated a concept that Daiei rejected for the first film: fin-like parts extending from Gamera's shell which act as air brakes. Maeda took advantage of new advancements in CGI when designing Gamera's spinning disc flight mode, making his shell compress and flatten as a result of centrifugal force when spinning.
A clay concept maquette of Gamera's final design was made to estimate the volume of the suit and ensure that it would be balanced given the likely weight of its massive shell. The individual plates on the shell of the "G3" Gamera suit were designed to move individually, giving them the appearance of armor, a goal of lead modeler Tomo Haraguchi since "G1." While the previous suits weighed 30 to 40 kilograms, the new suit weighed 70 as a result of new materials being used to construct his shell. Gamera's head was reduced in size relative to his body, and his feature became far more ferocious and vicious. up.art's Tatsuya Abe once again designed an internal mechanism for the suit, this one allowing for Gamera's head to have a full range of motion, controlled by the neck movements of suit actor Hirofumi Fukazawa.
An individual large model of Gamera's arm, roughly the same size as a person, was utilized for close-up shots, while a model of Gamera's leg suspended from a crane was dropped onto the set below to depict him touching down in Shibuya and crushing a bus. A guignol, or hand-operated puppet, of Gamera's upper body was also utilized for some shots during the final battle with Iris in Kyoto Station.
As in the previous film, CGI was employed frequently to depict Gamera in flight, especially his aerial duel with Iris. A CG Gamera model showing him from the ankles up, created from photographs of the suit, also appeared in a single shot.
The demonic Gamera seen in Ayana Hirasaka's nightmares, called Trauma Gamera, was portrayed using a modified "G2" suit with a newly-modeled head. Because of this, Akira Ohashi, who also played Iris, reprised his role as Gamera for these scenes.
The skeletal "beta versions" of Gamera which appear just before the title sequence were also designed by Maeda, who aimed for them to appear slightly mechanical in order to emphasize their biotechnological roots. They were portrayed primarily using shells from Gamera model kits by M1 and Kaiyodo, though a miniature skull made from styrofoam and a larger model were also used.
Lastly — Shusuke Kaneko explained in a 2003 interview that "turtles do not exist" in the universe of the trilogy, and as such Gamera isn't referred to as one... the implication being that humanity instead perceives him as a strange, mythical beast. Still, a couple of oversights find their way into "G3": the words "turtle's shell" are used in a report about the graveyard, and a turtle figure is seen on Saito's desk. The scene where Ayana learns about Genbu—the Black Tortoise with Snake—might superficially appear as another oversight, but it is never referred to as a turtle or tortoise by the characters; it's viewed as a creature of legend like Gamera himself... implying that the Guardian of the Universe may have been the in-universe inspiration for the Guardian of the North.
And with that, we close the book on the Guardian of the Universe. I'm Kyodai Kino, signing off.
- Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
- Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion
- Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris
- Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe
- Gamera vs. Barugon (Kadokawa manga)
- The Last Hope
- Gamera 4: Truth