BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Gamera - The Showa Era: Gamera: The Giant Monster, Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera vs. Gyaos, Gamera vs. Viras, Gamera vs. Guiron, Gamera Vs. Jiger, Gamera Vs. Zigra, Gamera Super Monster (1965 - 1980) - Blu-ray Review

Gamera - The Showa Era

The Friend of All Children has arrived! 

Otherwise known as the Guardian of the Universe, Gamera is what happens when you imagine a turtle flying alongside your plane on a hot summer day.  Debuting as an aggressive bipedal monster capable of flying the not so friendly skies, this massive turtle calmed down significantly when it came to kids and, ultimately, protecting this planet from all sorts of alien-inspired attacks.

"This isn’t camp.  This isn’t goofy silliness either.  These are young men and young women expressing their fears in the nuclear age."


With yet another kaiju boom waiting in the wings thanks to the upcoming release of Godzilla vs. Kong, it makes sense that Arrow Video, now that Criterion has took over the Godzilla films, would dive right in those treacherous waters of monsters and nuclear fallout concerns and give us the return of Gamera, the giant-sized, fire-breathing turtle with not one, but TWO new sets highlighting the adventures of this flying friend to all children everywhere.

Gamera: The Showa Era, which will be the focus of this review, includes Gamera: The Giant Monster, Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera vs. Gyaos, Gamera vs. Viras, Gamera vs. Guiron, Gamera Vs. Jiger, Gamera Vs. Zigra and Gamera Super Monster (in which Gamera must do battle with all of his previous foes), all of which are presented in HD for the first time in one collection.  Many of these films were also never released theatrically here in the States, so this set is indeed priceless.  

Sacrifices must be made.  Hearts must be broken.  Mankind must not toy around in the nuclear age.  This is the territory of Showa’s kid-friendly Giant Turtle; a film series that might have more to do with living in the aftermath of war than the actual war on the monster itself.  This isn’t camp.  This isn’t goofy silliness either.  These are young men and young women expressing their fears in the nuclear age.  Survival; they lived through it, and just like Godzilla before him, Gamera stands tall as the nuclear sirens go off and everything collapses around this lone turtle.Gamera - The Showa Era

Directed by series regular Noriaki Yuasa, with special effects by Yonesaburo Tsukiji, 1965’s Gamera, the Giant Monster is the sure-fire smash it needed to be when an atom bomb unleashes a prehistoric turtle upon the Arctic.  Suddenly, UFOs are spotted and a little boy finds himself having to let his own pet turtle go free . . . only to return (as he believes it to be) as the giant-sized kaiju we all know and love, Gamera.  Now, it is up to Gamera to survive humanity;s stupidity and try not get himself blasted to Mars.

But, of course, that’s exactly where he is sent and it is from Mars where he returns in 1966’s Gamera vs. Barugon in order to battle a monster that man’s curiosity ultimately unleashed thanks to the discovery of an egg which is, ultimately, mistaken for a jewel. Dumb humans.

Thankfully, Gamera isn’t pulling his punches when dealing with Barugon and the giant turtle returns for more mid-air battles in 1967’s Gamera vs. Gyaos, thanks to a series of volcano explosions which beckon him to come out of retirement and explore what could be causing these disruptions.  Surprise, it’s the vampiric Gyaos and his supersonic laser beams! 

With each film getting more kid-friendly, 1968’s Gamera vs. Viras shows Gamera becoming a full-blown super hero of sorts as he battles a space monster, 1969’s Gamera vs. Guiron, 1970’s Gamera vs. Jiger, 1971’s Gamera vs. Zigra, and 1980’s Gamera: Super Monster when the evil alien Zanon arrives on Earth to enslave the human race.  Thankfully, Gamera arrives to stop Zanon, but what a smack down as he must face all his old foes before, ultimately, sacrificing himself for all of us!  Who cares if these flicks become goofier as they go on.  I certainly don't.  After all, we are dealing with a GIANT FLYING TURTLE, so when you tell me that the turtle can store fire, oil, and whatnot in his anatomy, then I am going to chomp down on my popcorn and go with it.  These films are a blast.

Fear not, earthlings!  Look to the skies and Gamera can be seen ready to protect the planet and its people once again!  Woot! Woot!

5/5 beers

 

Gamera - The Showa Era

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Arrow Films
Available on Blu-ray
- January 26, 2021
Screen Formats: 2.35:1; 2.28:1; 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
Japanese: DTS-HD Master Audio MonoEnglish: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; four-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

As giant monsters rampaged through the Japanese cinematic landscape during the “kaiju boom” of the mid-1960s, Daiei Studios introduced a new character to the screen that would be embraced for generations: Gamera, the giant, flying, fire-breathing turtle, and friend of all children!

Buried under the Arctic ice for several millennia, the colossal chelonian is unleashed upon Japan, leaving havoc in his wake. After becoming an unexpected box office sensation, Gamera returned several more times, leaping to the world’s defence against a motley assortment of evil creatures, from the death-ray-shooting flying terror Gyaos, to the knife-headed alien menace Guiron, to the underwater invader Zigra!

Video:

With the aspect ratios of 2.35:1 and 1.85:1, all High Definition (1080p) transfers of these 8 Showa-era Gamera films on Blu-ray look marvelous.  Showcasing a lot of technical wizardry, Arrow Video has outdone themselves with the look and the color of these films. Obviously, the visual punch is there and the results, with fine remastering efforts, are absolutely incredible. For a number of the films in this set, this is as good as it gets. Obviously, most of the destruction occurs with cheap miniatures and the wires on the planes and the toy monster are, at times, more than visible. Detail is consistently impressive and the clarity of the picture is also nicer; being bold and dark in tones and spot-on in texture. There also appears to be less damage to the print which always makes for a better experience when watching.

Audio:

With optional English subtitles for all 8 films, Arrow Video has included the Mono 1.0 lossless original Japanese and dubbed English mono audio for all films.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

Man, oh, man, is this puppy ever loaded with some good stuff.  Complete with reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Fran, the FOUR discs that make up the Showa Era of Gamera have new commentaries, new featurettes, and archival information that fans are going to go bananas over.

DISC ONE – GAMERA THE GIANT MONSTER

DISC TWO – GAMERA VS. BARUGON / GAMERA VS. GYAOS

DISC THREE – GAMERA VS. VIRAS / GAMERA VS. GUIRON

DISC FOUR – GAMERA VS. JIGER / GAMERA VS. ZIGRA / GAMERA SUPER MONSTER

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4.5/5 stars

 

Art

Gamera - The Showa Era

 

 

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