History of Gamera


Written by Barney Buckley

Email Address- bbuckley@triad.rr.com


In this particular article I will be explaining the origins of Gamera as well as how he came to be. I will be talking about the company that first created Gamera and how it was sold to other companies all the way up to what is happening today.

Gamera is a gigantic flying Terrapin that was created by Daiei Motion Picture Company and now is owned by Kadokawa Pictures and Publishing Company. Gamera first made it on the screen in 1965 and was created simply because of the success of his counterpart and more popular monster they call Godzilla who has been on the screen a little bit low living Gamera. Godzilla started out in 1954. It was the 1960s when the “Monster Boom gained its popularity in Japan as both of these monsters are Japanese icons.

During the 1970s Gamera did attain some prominence on what is called UHF television stations that would feature these movies every Saturday morning as a Saturday matinee type movie. Gamera is a gigantic turtle that door in the Showa Series he stood at 60 m tall and door and the Heisei series he was 80 m tall. To describe Gamera even more Gamera possesses a pronounced sagittal crest on the top of his head and his mouth was filled with gigantic tea with two gigantic fangs protruding from his lower jaw or tusks.

Gamera in the Showa Series was a titanic, firebreathing, prehistoric species of tortoise or Terrapin. Gamera fed off of the petroleum-based materials that were on the planet at that time as he consumed it in order to breathe fire and fire at the Jets that would attack him. It is also known that Gamera has the capabilities of flying were Godzilla does not. By consuming the petroleum he is capable of extracting his legs in and they would ignite with flames coming out of all four legs as he propels himself spinning into the air.

Now we will talk about the original classic 1965 movie it begins showing bombers from the USSR or Russia as they are being intercepted by American fighters over the United States airspace in the Arctic. As we all know this sets off cataclysmic explosions that release Gamera from the ice and he goes on a rampage and at the end of the movie he is lured into this bay where the top of the bay is closed up it is a rocket and he is sent off into space.

Gamera has become a legacy as the Daiei Company who owned Gamera went on to create a lot of movies for the Showa Series. The next one after the original classic would be Gamera vs. Barugon which came out in 1966 and then Gamera vs. Gyaos in 1967, Gamera vs. Virus 1968, and Gamera vs. Guiron 1969, Gamera vs. Jiger 1970, Gamera vs. Zigra 1971, and finally the super cheesiest of all Gamera movies it is called “Gamera: Super Monster” which came out in 1980.

For me the movies were really good until after Gamera vs. Gyaos 1967 and then they got silly and super child friendly until Heisei Series. However that would all change for the company that created Gamera The Daiei Motion Picture Company would go bankrupt. This particular company was a product of government efforts to reorganize the film industry during World War II in order to rationalize its resources and increase control over the medium. It was then that the government plan to combine all the film studios into two companies, Masaichi Nagata, an executive at Shinkō Kinema, pressed hard for an alternative plan to create three studios. His efforts won out and Shinkō Kinema, Daito Eiga, and the production arm of Nikkatsu (the Nikkatsu theaters did not take part in the merger) were merged in 1942 to form the Dai Nippon Eiga Seisaku Kabushiki Kaisha, or Daiei for short. The novelist Kan Kikuchi served as the first president, with Nagata continuing as an executive. Daiei’s studios were located in Chofu, Tokyo and in Uzumasa in Kyoto.

Nagata became president in 1947 and, apart from a brief period when he was purged by Occupation authorities, remained in that position until 1971. Under his reign, Daiei produced Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950) and entered it in the Venice Film Festival, where it won the grand prize and became the first Japanese film to win an international award, thus introducing Japanese cinema to the world. Daiei also produced Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Gate of Hell (1953), the first Japanese color film to be shown abroad, earning both an honorary Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Daiei also produced such renowned films as Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu (1953) and Sansho the Bailiff (1954), as well as Jokyo (which was entered into the 10th Berlin International Film Festival). On the popular front, Daiei was also known for such successful film series as the Zatoichi films starring Shintaro Katsu, the Sleepy Eyes of Death series featuring Raizō Ichikawa, the Gamera movies, and the Daimajin Trilogy. Daiei also produced many television series such as Shōnen Jet.

In its heyday, Daiei featured such talent as the actors Raizō Ichikawa, Shintaro Katsu, Kazuo Hasegawa, Fujiko Yamamoto, Machiko Kyō, and Ayako Wakao; the directors Kenji Mizoguchi, Kon Ichikawa, Yasuzo Masumura, and Kenji Misumi; and the cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa.

Like some other film studios, Daiei had its own professional baseball team in the 1950s, the Daiei Stars, which later became the Daiei Unions. These teams eventually became the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Now let us talk about the bankruptcy of the Daiei Motion Picture Company it was back in 1971 when they tried to stay alive I teaming up with Nikkatsu and another motion picture company however with the combination of both motion picture companies it was just not enough. Because in 1971 they would declare bankruptcy and it would be the members of the union who however succeeded in getting Yasuyoshi Tokuma, the president of the publishing house, Tokuma Shoten, to revive the company in 1974.

This particular version of the Daiei motion picture company would go on to be making only a small number of films, some of which were big budget spectaculars like the international coproduction “The Go Masters” which came out in 1982 and the ever popular and ever loving “Shall We Dance?” Which came out in 1996 and later in the United States this movie would be re-created using Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon and a very popular cast. This movie turned out to be a very good movie both versions of this movie are very good in their own way. After all the films were produced it would soon be after the passing Yasuyoshi Tokuma, Daiei Film Co. He died on September 20, 2000 in Tokyo, Japan and the company was sold to the Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co.

In November 2002, Chairman Maihiko Kadokawa announced that Daiei Film Co. would merge with the company’s own film division, Kadokawa Pictures to form Kadokawa-Daiei Film Co. Ltd. it was during the time that when Yasuyoshi Tokuma, owned the Daiei company he would go on to create the three movie set of the Heisei Series Gamera movies as they are respectively titled “Gamera: Guardian of the Universe” (1995), “Gamera vs. Legion” (1996), and the last movie to speak of is “Gamera vs. Iris” (1999) and these particular movies were directed by Shesuke Kaneko who also directed the Godzilla film “GMK” which came out in 2001 for the Toho company. It is these three movies that puts Gamera back in the game with special effects as well as storyline and acting that surpasses any Godzilla film out there. It was these three movies that were critically acclaimed by the Japanese people.

In November 2002 when the company was purchased by Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co. they would create another Gamera movie however they would go back to the Showa Series and this particular movie is very kid friendly and altered in a way that it upset a lot of Gamera fans. This movie even though it was child friendly the Gamera in this movie did not look like any Gamera most people recognize. The worst part about it is that this Gamera did not have a signature roar. Another key note is they change the origins of Gamera as he is capable of exploding which to me did not make any sense however he has to consume a red rock in order to go through changes to become the Gamera that we all know he can be he cannot do this without that red rock.

They tentatively name this new Gamera “Toto” he does in fact fight a monster they call “Zedus” this is a gigantic lizard like monster with a big long purple top. To me this monster is not really a worthy competitor to what Gamera has fallen in the past. However it is very accommodating that he fights a tiny Gamera which in this case he does. This movie failed in a lot of ways as it is coming from the triple threat they gave Gamera a dark and eerie presence to a child friendly presence. This particular point is what most fans did not care about the movie.

Here is some more interesting facts about Gamera and the company that created him. In 1966 the movie that was released in America as Gamera the invincible is the original 1965 classic that was directed by Noriaki Yuasa and this story was written by Nisan Takahashi it quickly became a favorite to the children who love watching Gamera fight monsters. Like I mentioned above there was a total of seven films that was produced from 1965 to 1971 and the eighth entry was slated for a 1972 release this is where the loss projects come into play and this is a movie that never came to be and this is because the company was in the bankruptcy stage before being picked back up in 1974 they had to scrap this movie because of it. The movie was called “Gamera vs. Garasharp” which would have come out in 1972 but was forced to cease production because of the bankruptcy. This particular movie would have been about Gamera fighting a snake like creature that had the hood of a cobra and the snake body with antennas on its head.

As I mentioned before the company would go on to produce the Heisei Series of Gamera movies but for all that they wanted to produce another movie that would actually come out in 1980 it was called “Gamera: Super Monster” the filmmakers at this time were forced to make this film simply because of the contracts for one more Gamera film that was owed to the original Daiei company. It was an unfortunate event that when creating this film it was mostly stock footage with new scenes of a brand-new Gamera flying. It was when the production of the film began that Yuasa saw how poorly Tokuma was handling things and knew that Gamera could have never come back from the film. So he had Takahashi rewrite the ending to where Gamera was killed at the end.

Last but not least let us talk about some upcoming and future films for Gamera fans. It was noted in that on March 2014 “Anime News Network reported that a new Gamera production is planned, with no date specified however it is planned to be released sometime in 2015. Some rumors and speculations have risen on the Internet and here are some in my humble opinion something that do not like to hear.

It is said they will change Gamera’s form now what that means is they might completely alter the look of Gamera and honestly I am not sure that is a smart thing unless they change his looks to the point that you still recognize him like they do with the Godzilla suits.

Another thing they are going to change is his origins and they did that in the last movie called “Gamera Little Brave” which came out in 2006 and that in my opinion was not a good thing for the way they portrayed Gamera in this movie it would have been okay for kids but I did not personally care for the way they handled it. Assuming they are going to change the origin in this movie I hope it has something interesting to which will not be a bad thing I think the worst thing that gets to me is a going to change the looks of Gamera I am not sure how to handle that, but we will have to wait and see.

The last keynote that I want to mention is I have heard rumors and speculations that Kadokawa Pictures are thinking about removing Gamera and the fact that he flies and I hope this is just a rumor because honestly in my opinion this would be the most stupid thing they have ever done. Keep in mind it is the 50th anniversary movie for Gamera so for them to create a film they need to completely alter the entire franchise of Gamera give us a completely different Gamera that we could be pleased with, and again we will have to wait and see how they do this!

Now this particular article is based on some trivial facts and understanding of what Gamera is and how he was created and what companies owned him and what the companies went through all the way up to today with also updates on the new Gamera movie for his 50th anniversary and I am hoping they will do this well. I hope you enjoy this article!

The End


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