Gamera: Guardian of the Universe 1995 Movie Review

Written by Barney Buckley

Email Address – bbuckley@triad.rr.com


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Movie Information 

  • Directed by Shusuke Kaneko
  • Produced by Hiroyuki Kato, Shigeru Ohno, Yasuyoshi Tokuma, Tsutomu Tsuchikawa, Seiji Urushido
  • Studio Daiei Film
  • Distributed by   Toho (Japan) ADV Films (USA)
  • Release dates March 11, 1995
  • Running time 100 min.
  • Country Japan

Synopsis

A transport ship, the Kairyu-Maru, is plying the waters of the South Pacific ocean, carrying over a ton of plutonium waste to a disposal site in Japan. The Kairyu-Maru is escorted by a Maritime Safety Agency Patrol boat Najima, piloted by a man named Yonemori. Suddenly, the Kairyu-Maru runs aground – not strange except for the fact the ship is in the Phillipines Deep, where the bottom of the ocean is 6000 feet down. Radar shows the object the Kairyu-Maru hit is a drifting reef, which then suddenly dislodges and floats away. The transport suffers only minor damage, but the incident is reported in several papers, prompting an investigation of the incident by the Maritime Safety Agency.

At Maritime Safety HQ, Yonemori is questioned about the incident by the head investigator, Dr. Kusanagi. While Dr. Kusanagi assures Yonemori that the accident was not his fault and that no damage occurred, Yonemori nonetheless feels very shamed by the incident. Yonemori further implores Dr. Kunasagi to include him on the Yasu Marine Investigation team,which will go searching for the floating reef. Dr. Kunasagi is noncommittal about including Yonemori in the mission. Segue to Fukuoka Municipal Zoo, where a Professor Hirata is the presiding ornithologist. His assistant, Nagamine is conducting research while Prof. Hirata is away at Himegama Island to investigate reports of giant birds. Segue to Himegama Island, engulfed in a typhoon. A sailor and policeman desperately try to flee the island, but are killed by an unknown enemy.

Segue to a residential neighborhood outside Fukuoka, Yonemori visits a local grocer’s shop to get some liquor as a gift to present to Dr. Kunasagi when he pays the Dr. a housecall. By chance, Dr. Kunasagi’s daughter, Asagi, is at the store shopping and not only recommends a good bottle of liquor, but also takes Yonemori back home with her. Dr. Kunasagi arrives home to find Yonemori cooking for him with Asagi looking on bemused. Dr. Kunasagi resigns himself to Yonemori’s persistence and tells the man that he has found a position for Yonemori on the Yasu Marine Investigation.

Yonemori is visibly elated by the news. The next day the pair embarks on the research ship Kenzaki to search for the floating reef. Segue to Fukuoka Municipal Zoo, a police detective informs Nagamine that Dr. Hirata and the inhabitants of Himegama Island have been missing now for several days. When the detective mentions that “a giant bird” was involved, Nagamine’s interest is piqued enough to compel her to accompany the detective to Himegama island. Nagamine and the police detective search the island for clues as to what happened to the inhabitants. All Nagamine finds is a giant animal dropping pellet – containing Dr. Hirata’s pen and glasses.

Brief segue to the Kenzaki, where Yonemori finally strikes gold and discovers the strange, floating reef.

Back at Himegami island, Nagamine and the police search futher and discover the source of the giant pellet is discovered – a giant, birdlike creature. Nagamine and the detective race after the creature in a helicopter, hoping to track it and warn the mainland of the creature’s imminent arrival. The Air Traffic Controller at Nagasaki airport thinks the detective’s story is crazy, but puts out a general warning nevertheless. Nagamine manages to get the creatures’ attention with the helicopter, but the giant avian almost destroys the helicopter before Nagamine fends it off by stunning it with camera flashes.

Before peeling away, Nagamine discovers 2 other creatures have joined the first flying above Himegami Island. Newspapers and television shows broadcast news of the strange, new, birdlike creatures.

Segue to the research ship Kenzaki, where the Yasu team is studying the floating reef closely. They determine the general size of reef and discover that is emitting low levels of radiation. Prof. Hirata directs the team to venture onto the reef and search it. The team discovers strange, comma-shaped symbols on the reef as well as a strange metal object embedded in the reef. Prof. Hirata orders the metal object to be excavated.

Seque back to Japan, where the police detective pleads with Nagamine to meet the Japanese cabinet and to serve as the zoological advisor in the matter of the giant birds. At first unwilling, Nagamine is finally swayed by the earnest detective and proceeds to attend the cabinet meeting on the giant birds. At the meeting, Nagamine meets several cabinet members including environmental agency commissioner Saito. Commissioner Saito has authorized Saito to capture the giant birds, and he wants Nagamine to give him a plan to do it. Nagamine protests that the birds are unknown and dangerous. Saito informs her in no uncertain terms that their decision is final and her cooperation is expected.

Segue to research ship Kenzaki, the Yasu team has successfully excavated the metal statue which has a set of heiroglyphs engraved upon it.

Prof. Hirata prepares to airlift the statue off the reef. Yonemori touches the statue and finds it as warm as a person’s skin. Yonemori’s colleague does the same, and the contact causes the statue to shatter. With the statue destroyed, the reef comes to thunderous life. Yonemori is thrown into the ocean, and glimpses a monster beneath the reef.

Back in Fukuoka, Nagamine and the detective are working late trying to find a way to capture the giant birds. The detective hits upon using Fukuoka baseball stadium to trap the birds while they feed. Nagamine suggests that they use helicopters with strong lights to direct the birds to Fukuoka and then force the birds to the stadium. At the stadium, huge piles of meat will entice the birds to feed. Multiple doses of the sedative succinycholine would then be shot into the birds to sedate them. The Cabinet approves Nagamine’s plan and it is set into motion. As the trap slowly closes in on the bird creatures, however, Yonemori shows up and warns them of a giant monster fast approaching Fukuoka.

Commissioner Saito dismisses Yonemori’s monster to concentrate on capturing the giant birds. The giant birds take the bait and fly down to the floor of Fukuoka stadium to feed on the piles of meat dumped there. Unfortunately, the military opens fire on the birds too early and one manages to escape. A military helicopter tracks the beast, until a giant monsters burst forth from Fukuoka Bay and smashes the giant bird into an oil refinery, where it is incinerated.

The monster Yonemori mentioned has arrived and makes a beeline for the stadium, where the other two giant birds have been placed into cages. The residents of Fukuoka, civilian and military alike flee before the approach of the hulking turtle monster. The monster demolishes part of Fukuoka stadium trying to reach the birds imprisoned there. Sensing an imminent loss of life on their part, the giant birds use sonic beams to break free of their cages and to fly away. The giant turtle monster retreats into its shell and fly’s off in pursuit of the giant birds.  Yonemori and Dr. Hirata have dinner with Asagi and discuss the new monster. Dr. Hirata has translated the heiroglyphs from the statue found on the floating reef and believes the monster to be a creature called Gamera, created by the Atlanteans many years ago to counter a threat called Gyaos – apparently the giant birds.

Yonemori gives Asagi one of the comma-shaped amulets from the reef as a gift. The amulet glows mysteriously when she incants the translation from the statue. Nagamine returns to Himegami Island to learn more about the Gyaos, but only finds cannibalized corpses in the cave which was once their nest. At the next Cabinet meeting, Nagamine reveals that the Gyaos eggs are 10,000 years old and that the Gyaos are all female. Commisioner Saito concludes that Gamera is a bigger menace to society and persists in his desire to capture the giant birds.

The Japanese military is mobilized to locate Gamera, and they concentrate their efforts on the Seto Inland Sea in hopes of locating the giant monster. Sensing the encroaching Japanese military, Gamera flees the area by rocketing into the air and heads towards Kii peninsula. At this same location, Dr. Kusanagi & Yonemori are looking for Nagamine and a research team that is searching the countryside for Gyaos. Coming to a small village, the pair witnesses a mass exodus of people from the village. They stop a villager, who tells them that Nagamine and the research team found Gyaos – an it was hungry. Yonemori rushes towards the area where Nagamine was last seen, only to encounter her on a bridge, fleeing Gyaos with a small child. Nagamine and the child become trapped on the bridge, and Yonemori only manages to put himself in the path of danger. Just as their fate as a Gyaos snack seems sealed, Gamera appears.

The giant turtle roasts Gyaos with a plasma fireball. Unfortunately, a third Gyaos immediately swoops in to avenge the death of its sibling. Gamera takes damage protecting Nagamine, Yonemori and the child from Gyaos’ sonic beam. Gyaos then flees, with Gamera in hot pursuit.  Gamera’s actions prompt Yonemori to state plainly to Dr. Kunasagi that Gamera is on mankind’s side in this fight. Unfortunately, the Japanese parliment disagrees and enacts a bill authorizing the Japanese Self-Defense Force to attack and destroy Gamera. Missiles launched by SDF fighters punish Gamera just as the 3rd Gyaos is about to be destroyed by a plasma fireball. Gamera crashes into the forests surrounding Mount Fuji. Asagi learns of the Japanese parliament vote and SDF attack on the radio.

These actions prompt her to rush off to the battle zone to help Gamera, first by train then later with the help of a slightly loony cab driver. Night falls on Mt. Fuji and Asagi arrives just in time to witness the Japanese SDF launch a full scale bombing and artillery barrage upon Gamera. The ferocity of the SDF attack is so great that Gamera is knocked on its back and rendered temporarily helpless. Gyaos, watching the battle from high above, seizes the opportunity to finish off its greatest foe. Only Asagi’s breathless mental surge to Gamera allows it to jet out of harm’s way, but not before taking some serious beam damage to one of its arms. The SDF realizes belatedly both Gyaos’ surprise attack and Gamera’s jet-powered escape from the battle zone. Asagi then falls unconscious, stricken by the wound she shares with Gamera.

At the hospital, Dr. Kunasagi anxiously waits for his daughter to regain consciousness. Asagi wakes up, but lies in a fevered daze. Dr. Kunasagi tells his daughter that Gamera escaped the SDF and has gone into the sea. This comforts Asagi, who tells him that she and Gamera must rest and strengthen up for the final battle with Gyaos. Asagi then loses consciousness once more.

At yet another high level Japanese military/cabinet meeting, Commissioner Saito and Yonemori spar over whether to kill Gyaos or Gamera. Nagemani recommends that they prepare against both monsters instead of fighting over which monster to kill. After the meeting, Nagemani & Yonemori go to the home of Michiya, a geneticist friend of Nagemani’s who has analyzed Gyaos’ DNA. They learn from Michiya that Gyaos is a biological weapon, an organic construct created through genetic manipulation of animal DNA. They also learn that Gyaos is male/female, hermaphroditic, and thus capable of producing offspring without a mate. It takes little time for them to realize the horror that awaits mankind should Gyaos reproduce. Segue to the forests around Mt. Fuji where Gyaos continues to feed . . . and grow.  Nagamine and Yonemori visit Dr. Kunasagi hoping to use Asagi to contact Gamera, because of her apparent psychic link to the giant turtle.

Dr. Kunasagi strongly rebuffs them suggesting that Asagi’s mental contact with Gamera could get her killed. Sitting together, the three postulate on Gamera and Gyaos’ origins. They believe that Gyaos was created by the Atlanteans thousands of years ago. But Gyaos quickly grew and reproduced out of control. Gamera was created by the Atlanteans to destroy Gyaos but showed up too late in the game to save the Atlanteans. So the Atlanteans put Gamera into hibernation, in the hopes that Gamera would save future generations from Gyaos.   Later, Yonemori and Nagemani hang out at a bar and lament how mankind’s abuses of nuclear energy and the earth have created the very conditions which revived the Gyaos. Segue to Tokyo, a passenger trains becomes the object of some unwelcome interest, namely from Gyaos. The giant bird creature rips a car from the trains and brings it to a park in Tokyo, where it promptly opens up the train and its occupants like canned herrings. The latest atrocity by Gyaos prompts the cabinet to revoke their support of Comm.

Saito’s plan to “capture” Gyaos. Comm. Saito meekly appeals to Nagamine to help them destroy Gyaos. Nagamine advises that they attack Gyaos during the day, when the creature appears weakest. Segue to Tennosu Island Command HQ. From here, the SDF has a clear view of Gyaos resting in the park near Tokyo tower. The SDF plans to use guided missiles to kill Gyaos. Nagamine takes a closer look at Gyaos and is disturbed to find shield plates around Gyaos’ eyes, an apparent adaption to sunlight. Nevertheless, the SDF launches a punishing missile attack on Gyaos that strikes the creature right on target . . . and succeeds only in arousing the creature to angry flight. A second wave of missiles homes relentlessly in on the flying creature. But Gyaos uses these weapons to its advantage, guiding them into Tokyo tower – destroying it and making an ideal nesting site for its burgeoning clutch of Gyaos eggs. As night falls on the ruins of central Tokyo, Gyaos screams its defiance of all mankind.

News reports tell of the creature’s power and of the economic and physical mayhem caused by the creature. Dr. Kusanagi checks on his daughter and his concern revives both Asagi and Gamera. The next morning at Tennosu Island Command HQ, Yonemori and Nagamine wearily wait what may be Tokyo’s last morning. Yonemori asks Nagamine out on a date, if they survive all this. Nagamine is psyched. Suddenly, Dr. Kusanagi and Asagi show up with a message  . . . Gamera is coming. An earthquake suddenly rips through central Tokyo stopping at the base of Tokyo tower.

Gyaos checks the threat out sleepily and then returns its attention to the nest, only to be roused once again by a resurgent Gamera and a plasma fireball wake up call. Gyaos barely escapes incineration, but its clutch of eggs is not so lucky, all of them are destroyed. Gyaos retreats by air with Gamera in hot pursuit firing off plasma fireballs. The blasts don’t touch Gamera, but DO touch large parts of Tokyo’s downtown district. Asagi and the gang chase after the pair of monsters in a military helicopter. Gamera and Gyaos touchdown in Rapongi district and give fierce battle. The two monsters rage back and forth until an ankle blade from Gamera plunges into Gyaos and send the bird creature careening back into a skyscraper.

The building collapses onto Gyaos, prompting it to slice and dice the building with its sonic ray. Gamera takes off in the confusion and goes straight up. Gyaos emerges from the rubble and gives chase. The two creatures move quickly out of sight and out of the atmosphere. As Gyaos stops to get behind Gamera, the giant turtle suddenly turns on Gyaos and bites its leg. Gyaos then plunges back into Earth’s atmosphere dragging Gyaos with it. Re-entry and the descent start to incinerate both monsters. Gyaos fires away madly at Gamera, causing both the turtle and Asagi(much to Dr. Kunasagi’s consternation) many cuts and abrasions. Gamera plunges earthward hoping to destroy Gyaos, even at the cost of its own life. Gyaos finally frees itself from Gamera by severing its own leg, regaining control just as Gamera impacts on an oil refinery.

Gyaos adds to the incendiary chaos, blasting the remaining oil tanks with its sonic beam. Nothing seems to remain in the chaos. Then the flames retreat into the center of the conflagaration, where Gamera feeds off the energy and re-energizes itself. The two monsters square off knowing the next exchange will kill one of them. They wait for the moment to strike. Asagi senses the time to strike and relays it to Gamera. Gyaos makes its move.

A sonic beam and plasma fireball whiz by each other. Gamera gets a scratch. Gyaos loses its head, and falls back dead. Gamera roars in triumph that its enemy is dead and the threat has been vanquished . . . at least until the next batch of Gyaos eggs hatches. Gamera turns to Asagi and heals the wounds she took for Gamera and then turns to the sea to return home. Asagi wishes Gamera well and assures her friends that if the world is in danger, Gamera will come again.

What I like about This Movie

I like so much about this movie that is a serious jump up from the Showa Series that I can’t possibly begin to tell you how much better it is. The Gamera suit awesomely designed Gyaos another great suit and very highly detailed with much more mobility than the original. The fight scenes are top-notch. What I did not like about the movie is nothing everything about this movie to me is great. The storyline, the action scenes, and the ending was refreshingly good to see.

Trivia

  •   The Gyaos creature was performed by a female actress so that it would convey more ‘feminine’ like behavior. Apparently this was the first time a Kaiju was ever performed by a woman.
  • The film’s Japanese poster is a nearly identical recreation of the Japanese poster of the first film in which Gamera fought Gyaos, Daikaijû kûchûsen: Gamera tai Gyaosu.

Closing Statements

Watch this movie now! Is a really good movie and Shesuke Kaneko is perhaps the best suited director for any Kaiju movie. He did the movie GMK: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: All-Out Monster Attack. If you have seen this movie and you want to see a Gamera movie that has the same, special effects then the Heisei Series of Gamera movies is a must-see, check this movie out and you see what I mean.

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