Kaiju of the Month: Gamera, Guardian of the Universe
Welcome back to EGC’s Kaiju of the Month! It has been a long time since I added to the series so I thought it was high time to rectify that. It was originally intended to be a weekly series, but I think monthly is a better idea.
If you don’t know what the word kaiju means, it’s essentially a film genre with Japanese roots that features giant monsters destroying major cities, waging war against the military, and fighting other giant monsters. The word can also be used to describe the giant monsters themselves. Here on Kaiju of the Month, I showcase some of the best and worst the genre has to offer. There’s a whole world of giants and teeth in cinema.
Last time on Kaiju of the Month, we visited Denmark’s own reptilian atrocity, Reptilicus. Today, we journey to the land of the rising sun to meet the original Guardian of the Universe, Gamera.
# of films appeared in
Year of First Appearance
For the uninitiated, it could be easy to dismiss this giant turtle as a rip off of Godzilla and you’d be partially right. The original 1954 Gojira film(translated it means Godzilla) spawned the whole kaiju genre under the banner of Toho Studios. Seeing the money Godzilla was raking in, Daiei Film sought to get a top earning kaiju of their own. ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY DOLLAR BILL! Thus Gamera was born.
Gamera’s origin story has seen many tweaks over the years as the franchise needed to be rebooted. His original origin was a primordial beast locked away in a glacial prison freed by humanity’s sins of war. Much like his kaiju cousin, Godzilla, Gamera was originally a force of nature who thrived on destruction, feeding off the flames from a world turned to ash. In an effort to make the giant turtle more kid friendly, Daiei Films began marketing him as a defender of mankind.
Gamera began waging epic battles against other “evil” kaiju and was later branded with such nicknames as Guardian of the Universe, Friend of All Children, and The Brave. Children would sing his praise and he has actually befriended children in his movies (in a totally platonic, non-creepy manner), further painting the giant Chelonian in a more heroic light. This iteration was created in the lost city of Atlantis to defeat a race of kaiju that led to the city’s destruction.
- Atomic Breath- Halitosis is a bitch and no amount of Mentos can cure poor Gamera’s flaming hot breath. Hidden away behind this tortoise’s carapace is a fusion reactor, powering Gamera’s signature flame breath. Because of this, Gamera is drawn to major heat source’s and can absorb thermal energy. Later incarnations show Gamera lobbing fireballs and shooting a plasma cannon from his thermal nucleic core, hidden behind the plates on his chest.
- Regeneration- By absorbing other heat sources, Gamera can heal his wounds. In one instance, he regrew an amputated limb by absorbing an other kaiju’s energy blast.
- Flying Like A Boss- One thing Gamera has over everyone’s favorite atomic, prehistoric lizard is the ability to fly. Being a turtle, Gamera can retract his head and appendages into his shell. He can retract his legs and fly through the air like a rocket, using his stored atomic energy to propel him through the air or retract his everything and fly around like a spinning UFO(my personal favorite).
- A Shell That Is Strong As All Fuck- Very few things can get through Gamera’s shell, although some rival kaiju have done significant damage to it. His underbelly is far more vulnerable to attack (I too share this weakness thus I must be related to Gamera).
- Slice N’ Dice With Elbow Spikes- It seems someone over at Daiei Film was a big fan of The Guyver anime and decided to give Gamera elbow spikes. Don’t get me wrong, elbow spikes are a totally “killer” accessory. However, I’m jealous because humans can’t grow elbow spikes despite all the milk my mom used to make me drink. The moral of the story? Don’t drink your milk, kids, because no matter how much you drink, you’ll never be able to grow elbow spikes, thus destroying your elbow spike dreams.
- Superman’s Healing Coma- Ever wanted to kill a beloved character without really killing them? Introducing the greatest crutch for lazy writers ever invented. Healing comas are horseshit and I despise them. That’s all I have to say on the matter… Don’t use healing comas in your writing!
Extreme Cold is the titanous terapin’s greatest weakness. When humanity needed to defeat the terror that was Gamera, they attempted to bring the colossus down using liquid nitrogen bombs. This weakness hasn’t been exploited very often. It’s only been used in two films.
That’s it for Kaiju of the Month until… next month. Have any of you watched Gamera? Who would win in a fight, Godzilla or Gamera? We here at Evil Geek Cult ask all the important questions that need answering.