Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (ガメラ 大怪獣空中決戦?, Gamera Daikaiju no Kuchu Kessen, lit. Gamera Giant Monster Midair Battle) is a 1995 tokusatsu daikaiju eiga produced by Daiei Motion Picture Company and the ninth entry in the Gamera series. This film is the first in Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera trilogy and the first Gamera film to be released by Toho.
In 1998, BBC2 used the footage of the final battle between Gyaos and Gamera during its Monster Night (an evening of programming dedicated to the giant-monster movie). It was used as part of a feaure when the presenters of the evening would pretend to bet on the outcome of fights between various monsters.
A ship carrying plutonium collides with a floating atoll off the eastern coast of the Philippines. Similar events start occurring throughout the area and a team of scientists lead by Naoya Kusanagi (Akira Onodera) are called to investigate the atoll as it approaches Japan.
Meanwhile, Ornithologist Mayumi Nagamine (Shinobu Nakayama) is called to the Goto Archipelago to investigate a mysterious village attack claimed to have been caused by a "giant bird". Further descent into the forest leads the investigation crew to encounter Three of the creatures.
The atoll investigation team uncover several orihalcum amulets and a stone slab covered in Etrurian runes at the center of the anomalous formation. The atoll suddenly starts to quake and the slab is destroyed. As the scientists are thrown into the water, Marine Officer Yoshinari Yonemori (Tsuyoshi Ihara) encounters the eye and tusk of a giant turtle.
Back in Japan, Nagamaine agrees to aid the government to capture the giant birds. The three creatures are lured away from the Goto Archipelago to the Fukuoka Dome baseball stadium. The birds land inside the stadium and are soon attacked with tranquilizers. All except for one which makes its escape. Upon reaching the harbor, the bird is attacked and killed by the giant turtle Yonemori encountered. The birds awaken and escape before the turtle reaches them. The turtle pursues them by igniting its booster jets and flies away.
Kusanagi reveals to Yonemori and his daughter Asagi (Ayako Fujitani) that the slab revealed that the giant turtle is called Gamera and the birds are Gyaos. Yonemori then gives Asagi one of the discovered amulets as a gift and a bond between her and Gamera is formed. Kusanagi shares the deciphered slab information with the Japanese military, who have targeted Gamera as the enemy due to its immense size.
However, Kusanagi, Yonemori, and Nagamine are called to the Kiso Mountain Range for a Gyaos attack on the village. As Yonemori and Nagamine attempt to rescue a child, Gamera arrives in time to save them and stop the Gyaos. Despite killing another one, the last Gyaos escapes.
Asagi discovers that her unwilling bond with Gamera forces her to share the same pain Gamera suffers. She later heads to Mount Fuji after hearing on the radio of a military counterattack against Gamera occurring the following evening. The counterattack on Gamera commences with the creature not fighting back. As soon as Asagi arrives to witness the attack, the final Gyaos arrives to combat Gamera. Gyaos manages to mortally wound the giant turtle and Asagi in the process, forcing Gamera to retreat back to the ocean. Kusanagi visits his daughter at the hospital where Asagi falls into a long deep sleep as Gamera too slumbers to regain his energy.
Nagamine and Yonemori put the pieces together by uncovering that ten thousand years ago, an advanced civilization created the Gyaos to eliminate rampant pollution. However, the Gyaos grew stronger, started breeding and began feasting on humans. For protection, Gamera was created to fend off the attacks. The onslaught of the Gyaos was eventually halted, and they were forced into hibernation. Despite the best efforts of its people, the advanced civilization was ruined. So, the scientists preserved the last remaining Gamera and bequeathed him to the next civilization, should the Gyaos ever return. More light is shined on the matter when a friend of Nagamine reveals to her and Yonemori that the Gyaos species only possess one chromosome. Apparently, the Gyaos are asexual and have the ability to reproduce on their own. This startling new revelation is soon realized when the final Gyaos evolves into a Super Gyaos and attacks Tokyo.
This event forces the Japanese Government to revert their target from Gamera to Gyaos. In an attempt to kill Gyaos in broad daylight, the military launch heat seeking missiles at Gyaos who miraculously dodges them and gets them to destroy the midsection of Tokyo Tower. Gyaos then forms a nest at the top of the Tower where it slumbers until its next attack.
Because of several failed attempts to destroy Gyaos, citizens flee the city in an act of fear. Leaving Tokyo nearly deserted. Nagamine and Yonemori discover the final piece of the puzzle, the amulet Asagi carries. After trying to explain to Kusanagi that the amulet somehow links Asagi and Gamera together and share a life force, Kusanagi dismisses it as ridiculous claims until he witnesses it himself.
The following morning, Gamera returns to destroy Gyaos once and for all. The battle forces Asagi, Kusanagi, Nagamine, and Yonemori to pursue in a helicopter to witness the air decisive battle. Initially, Gyaos emerges victorious after Gamera failed to crash into an oil refinery with Gyaos. However, Asagi uses what's left of her energy to resurrect Gamera. Both monsters charge their energy to finish each other off but Gamera takes the upper hand and blasts Gyaos to pieces.
As Gamera roars in victory, he turns to look upon Asagi's face for the first time and, in gratitude, releases her of their bond together and returns to the sea. Despite the Gyaos being destroyed, Nagamine believes more Gyaos may appear if the environment continues to strive the way it does. But Asagi assures them that Gamera will return if the human race ever needs him again.
- Tsuyoshi Ihara as Yoshinari Yonemori
- Akira Onodera as Naoya Kusanagi
- Shinobu Nakayama as Mayumi Nagamine - A gifted scientist who is also a friend of Asagi's.
- Ayako Fujitani as Asagi Kusanagi - A young girl who forms a spiritual bond with Gamera after she received an ancient pendant found on Gamera's hide by her father.
- Yukijiro Hotaru as Inspector Osako
- Hatsunori Hasegawa as Colonel Satake
- Hirotaro Honda as Mr. Saito, EPA
- Naoki Manabe, Jun Suzuki as Gamera - The films titular kaiju, Gamera is a giant fireball breathing turtle that was created by an advanced civilization to exterminate the invading Gyaos.
- Yuhmi Kaneyama as Gyaos - Species of maleviolent man-eating bird/bat-like creatures of the movie and the arch-enemies of Gamera.
- 1996 - Nominated Award of the Japanese Academy Best Supporting Actress - Shinobu Nakayama
- 1996 - Won Blue Ribbon Award Best Director - Shusuke Kaneko, Best Supporting Actress - Shinobu Nakayama
- 1996 - Won Festival Prize Best Director - Shusuke Kaneko, Best Screenplay - Kazunori Itô, Best Supporting Actress - Shinobu Nakayama, Best Technical - Shinji Higuchi (for his special effects)
The film has been highly praised by fans and critics alike. It has been regarded for its darker tones, ground-breaking special effects, and successful reinvention of the franchise and character. The film has been noted to be far more darker and edgier than the original series, which was often criticized for being too campy.
Peter H. Gilmore of MonsterZero.us said, "All in all, this is a vibrant and energetic film. The monster battles are full of physical grappling as well as energy weapon exchanges, and the excellent suitmation is well augmented by judiciously used CGI." Popcorn Pictures said, "This is just a great, fun kaiju film. ... Gamera finally has a film to rival Godzilla (but he's still second best to the Big G, though) and rid the infamous legacy that has dogged him throughout his motion picture life."
Blu-ray and DVD releasesEdit
Mill Creek Entertainment
- Released: October 12, 2010
- Note: Comes bundled with Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion on the same Blu-ray Disc.
- Released: March 18, 2003
- Note: Extra features: Interview with special effects director Shinji Higuchi, Press Conference Footage, Behind the Scenes, Footage from Yabari International Fantastic Adventure Film Festival, Opening Night Footage, Trailers.