Kaiju Profile: Kamoebas & Ganimes
Hey kaiju fans, I'm Koopa, and today we'll be taking a look at two Giant Monsters of the South Seas: Ganimes and Kamoebas!
Debuting in 1970's "Space Amoeba," Ganimes and Kamoebas were created by the titular alien during its attempted conquest of Earth. Following the destruction of the mutant cuttlefish Gezora on Sergio Island, the Amoeba possessed a rubble crab and transformed it into Ganimes. When the human opposition overcame this monster too, the alien creature turned to another crab and a mata mata turtle, creating a second Ganimes and Kamoebas. Once the Amoeba's control over them was broken, both monsters fought to the death.
While Ganimes has largely fallen into obscurity, Kamoebas went on to appear in "Go! Godman" as perhaps the best-looking recycled monster suit, and three decades later managed a stint in "Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S." as a corpse.
Kamoebas' name combines the Japanese word for "turtle" (kame) and amoeba, while Ganimes' is derived from the Japanese word for "crab" (kani). The letter 's' at the end of their trademarked names are not present in Japanese. An on-set photoshoot and the film's theater program and press sheet reveal "Ganime" and "Quameba" as Toho's original English translations. The pressbook for American International's release of the movie instead wrote the latter name as "kameoba."
The Kamoebas and Ganimes suits were modeled by Nobuyuki Yasumaru, the protégé of Toho's chief modeler Teizo Toshimitsu, while their suits' internal mechanisms were realized by technician Akinori Takagi. Kamoebas' body was sculpted in clay and molded, then cast in latex. The spikes on his shell were made from a hard rubber. The monster was portrayed by Ultra Series suit actor Haruyoshi Nakamura, who would enter the suit from the bottom through a slit in the abdomen. Takagi fitted the suit with a mechanism to extend its neck, modified from a bicycle pump and springs from gym equipment. Freon gas would propel the neck forward, reportedly making a loud popping noise which startled Nakamura. Motors allowed the neck to move left and right. Yasumaru also modeled a small prop of the unmutated mata mata turtle, with contracting springs in the limbs to make them move. The effect evidently wasn't very convincing, as the prop went completely unused in the film, replaced by a dressed-up Japanese pond turtle. However, it can still be spotted in some promotional stills. Toho reused the Kamoebas suit for the monster's appearance in an episode of the 1973 TV series "Go! Godman."
The shell of Ganimes was also sculpted in clay and cast. Yasumaru took inspiration from another crustacean created by his mentor four years earlier; in his own words, "I made [Ganimes] with reference to Mr. Toshimitsu's Ebirah, and I thought that I could make it even better." Yasumaru decorated the Ganimes suit with palm fronds to simulate hair, a deviation from Toshimitsu's typical method of using goat hair. The drawback was that the fronds were highly flammable, with Yasumaru staying on-set during filming to monitor them. Takagi installed between 6 and 8 servo motors into Ganimes' head so that its mouthparts could be radio controlled, while a mechanism in its shell blew foam from the mouth with a compressed air cylinder. The eyes could also be radio controlled. Ganimes was portrayed by Haruo Nakajima, who doubled as the actor for Gezora. According to him, "Ganimes was so stiff that I don't think I could act very well, and could mostly only click the claws together. That's why I don't remember much about it." A giant full-scale claw was used to interact with the human characters, and a small wire-operated model was blown up for the first individual's death.
The concept of a giant object washing ashore on Kujukuri Beach in "Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S." originated with Masahiro Yokotani's drafts for "Godzilla 2004." In his fourth revision, a giant cocoon washed ashore. The JXSDF assumed it belonged to Mothra and prepared to destroy it with a Maser Cannon, only for Godzilla to emerge, having been encased in silk after a battle with Mothra's larvae. Director Masaaki Tezuka's rewrites shifted Godzilla's and Mothra's roles in the story and replaced the cocoon with the carcass of a giant Liopleurodon killed by Godzilla, which Shinji Nishikawa drew concept art of. However, Toho decided it was unnecessary to create an original creature just to have it appear as a corpse, and so suggested that Tezuka incorporate an existing monster instead. He first proposed using Anguirus in the role, but producer Shogo Tomiyama vetoed it, wanting to keep him alive for possible use in a sequel. Frustrated, Tezuka suggested Gamera next, and Toho countered with the only turtle kaiju they held the rights to: Kamoebas. Since the monster was to be an immobile corpse, he was portrayed only by an approximately 120 centimeter long prop, modeled by MONSTERS, Inc. employee Shigeaki Ito. The monster was filmed on Toho's "Big Pool", and miniature dolls stood in for the soldiers surrounding him.
Space Amoeba (1970): After the Sergio Islanders and a few Japanese visitors killed Gezora, the Space Amoeba exited its carcass and moved on to a rubble crab, which it mutated into Ganimes. The monster capsized industrial spy Makoto Obata, then went after the humans on the shore, homing in on Taro Kudo and Ayako Hoshino. He chased the two to a dead end, but Kudo shot out the beast's eyes and tricked him into jumping off the cliff, where a cache of World War II-era explosives awaited. After Hoshino pulled him up, Kudo set them off with his rifle, causing Ganimes to explode into pieces.
The Space Amoeba again survived, this time possessing Obata, creating a second Ganimes, and transforming a mata mata turtle into the kaiju Kamoebas. Both monsters tracked down the humans to a cave on the island and prepared to finish them off, but Obata broke free of the amoeba's control and freed a large flock of bats from the cave. Their sonar interrupted the Space Amoeba's control over the two kaiju, who went wild and attacked each other. Their battle eventually reached the slopes of the island's active volcano. Ganimes tried to throw Kamoebas into the crater, but Kamoebas bit his foe's claw and dragged him down into the magma with him. Obata then jumped into the crater as well, eliminating the Space Amoeba once and for all.
Go! Godman (1972): Godman confronted Kamoebas as he lumbered towards a couple of beachgoers. The turtle defended himself on his hind legs, but was eventually outmatched. However, upon attempting to kill the monster with his God-Crush and God-Sparks, Godman realized that Kamoebas' carapace was too resilient. When the monster Folgon suddenly appeared, Godman left to fight it, allowing Kamoebas to escape with his life.
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003): In 2004, over 30 years after the battle on Sergio Island, the carcass of another Kamoebas washed ashore on Kujukuri Beach in Japan. The Anti-Megalosaurus Force noted massive claw marks in the beast's neck, determining it had been killed by a larger predator. There could be no doubt as to this predator's identity: Godzilla.
Though unseen, a separate member of the species had previously appeared in 1987. It faced the AMF, who took a sample of its cells and kept them in a canister for laboratory experimentation, along with the samples of various other kaiju including another Ganimes in 1984 and the original Godzilla.
Ganimes primarily fought with his two massive claws, which could snap shut on foes or be used as clobbering weapons. He also threw boulders at Kamoebas and spat foam on him, neither of which was effective.
Kamoebas is protected by a spiky shell, which "GODZILLA: Monster Apocalypse" notes was resistant to bunker buster bombs. He primarily fought with his teeth and claws, biting and scratching at foes. Kamoebas had an extending neck which could launch forward and allow him to quickly and unexpectedly bite enemies. It supported the 12,000-ton weight of Ganimes while throwing him.
Weaknesses: None of the "Space Amoeba" monsters were very resilient; Taro Kudo shot out the first Ganimes' eyes with a rifle, then blew him to smithereens with conventional explosives. Both he and Kamoebas were pained by the ultrasonic waves emitted by a swarm of bats, which also caused the Space Amoeba to lose control of them. Lastly, the two perished after they plummeted into molten magma. The Kiryu Saga Kamoebas was killed in an offscreen battle with Godzilla, sustaining fatal slashes to his neck.
Few video games: Ganimes featured in a video game for the first time with the Game Boy "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" in 1993, as the enemy following Gezora - who'd already been in two games before. Since then, the "Yog" trio has been relegated to games with sprawling monster casts, starting in '98: "Godzilla: Trading Battle," "Godzilla Generations" and its associated VMU game, and "Godzilla Defense Force." "Kaiju Collection" included Kamoebas and Gezora but left out Ganimes.
Anime Ganimes: "GODZILLA: Monster Apocalypse" mentions several Kamoebas. The first attacked the Philippines in 2002, the second showed up in Guam, and the fourth washed ashore dead on Odo Island in 2030, becoming the first evidence of Godzilla's existence. Several references to Gamera are made in describing Kamoebas IV: it's 60 meters long (the same as the Showa friend-of-all-children) with a melted shell ("Gamera 2") and missing right arm ("Gamera 3"). Ganimes roamed the Bering Sea and, fittingly enough, targeted American crab fishing vessels. In the followup novel "GODZILLA: Project Mechagodzilla," it was theorized that the aggregated J-MO7 which attacked the North American Hedorah Research Laboratory was a subspecies of Ganimes, but no one ever found out for sure.
Comics and picture books: The "Yog" trio of course featured in picture book and manga adaptations of their movie, and in a couple of original picture books from '72 - most prominently "Jumbo Monster Island" where they tour Aztec ruins. Though Gezora's had more luck from then on, it's been nothing but cameos for the other two.
In issue #9 of the IDW comic series "Godzilla: Rulers of Earth", a mural on Infant Island classified Ganimes and Kamoebas as water monsters. In prehistoric times, Kamoebas helped Megaguirus battle Gorosaurus to keep the world in balance. He returned by force in the 21st century, when the Trilopods captured him. King Caesar freed him and ten other Earth monsters from the Trilopod Hive in Los Angeles, and they joined Godzilla for a massive brawl. Well, the others joined - Kamoebas laid low, though he did survive in the end. The aliens never found Ganimes, though it wasn't their fault: IDW accidentally forgot to license him from Toho! Undaunted, Matt Frank snuck two Ganimes-like crabs into issue #19.
That's all there is for Kamoebas and Ganimes. Thank you for watching.