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Gamera: Rebirth – A Look At A Lesser-Known Kaiju

Sometimes an entire genre of fiction can be dominated by one franchise or one character. The world of giant monster movies only has a few Huge celebrities, & everyone else is either a member of their entourage or a pretender to the throne. But, one massive beast has stood just beneath that throne since the beginning, & he’s about to have a Huge return.


When you say kaiju, the world is almost always picturing Godzilla, King Kong, or both. However, the simple concept of a monster the size of a skyscraper is bigger than two or three franchises. Gamera, the Guardian of the Universe & friend to all children is here to continue his never-ending climb to the top.

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In 1954, the world was changed forever by the release of Ishiro Honda’s iconic kaiju classic Godzilla. The film’s production was inspired by earlier works including The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms & King Kong, but its allegory & atmosphere captured the hearts of audiences. Godzilla obviously wasn’t the first kaiju film, but it was the catalyst that caused the explosion of other similar films. Godzilla was, & still is, owned by Toho, leading countless other studios to create their take on the concept. The now-defunct company Daiei Film set to work developing their own massive monster awakened by radioactive energy. Their take on the concept was called Gamera, & he’s since taken on a life of his own.

Gamera, the Giant Monster premiered 11 years after the film that obviously inspired it. The eponymous kaiju is a prehistoric giant turtle with prominent tusks & the ability to breathe fire. He can melt steel, tear apart buildings, & even fly by retreating into his shell & ejecting flames from every opening, causing him to spin like a flying saucer. He’s initially a hostile beast who wantonly destroys everything he encounters. He eats petroleum & fire for sustenance. From the earliest film, however, Gamera has a clear & wholesome bond with human children. Over the years, much like Godzilla, the dangerous kaiju evolved into a defender of mankind against greater threats. His backstory, established decades after his introduction, states that he was created by the people of Atlantis to defend them from other monsters. He’s fueled by magical energy known as mana that allows him to do incredible things. Gamera is an inconsistent character at the best of times, but he still has all the lovable aspects of a kaiju hero.

Godzilla has been around for only a decade longer than Gamera, but they have a pretty huge discrepancy in the films released. There are 38 commercially released Godzilla films, along with a cartoon series & countless comics & video games. The King of the Monsters is one of the most enduringly popular fictional characters of all time. Gamera, on the other h&, only has 12 commercially released feature films. Even the films that did make it to the Huge screen didn’t usually succeed. Sincerely, fans of Gamera owe a massive debt of gratitude to the good people at Mystery Science Theater 3000, because their parodies of five of the twelve films led to a massive bump in popularity in the 90s. This is hilarious, because both S&y Frank, the American producer who owned the films, & Kadokawa Pictures, the company that bought Daiei, tried to kill MST3K’s episodes on the subject. Some people just can’t take a joke, even when it’s saving their career.

As of November 16th, 2022, Kadokawa has announced Gamera -Rebirth-. This will be the first Gamera project to hit the screen since 2006. The most recent trilogy of Gamera films was directed by Shūsuke Kaneko, who will be returning to the franchise with Rebirth. Kaneko is also known for his two Japanese live-action adaptations of Takeshi Obata’s Death Note & his 2001 kaiju film Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Little is known about the upcoming project. Kaneko’s Gamera trilogy, but his upcoming work could be an anime. It’s also unclear whether Rebirth will be a film or a series. It is clear, however, that it’ll be released worldwide on Netflix sometime next year. Given almost two decades without a word about Gamera, fans are on the edge of their seat for anything the studio will put out.

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Newcomers to the world of Gamera can seek out his entire film history. The twelve titles are scattered across services including Amazon Prime, Tubi, & Pluto, but they’re almost all easily accessible. Hardcore Gamera fans are almost undoubtedly vibrating with excitement to see their favorite Guardian of the Universe finally return. Gamera has lived for half a century in the shadows of the icon that inspired him, but, whatever Gamera -Rebirth- turns out to be, the character will always have a history worth looking into. Gamera is back, & the world is better for his return.

MORE: 5 Action Movies That Are Shameless Rip-offs


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