Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (Popular Title) Gamera Daikaiju Kuchu Kessen (1995)
Year of Release: 1995
Japanese Title: Gamera Daikaiju Kuchu Kessen
Also released as: Giant Monster Mid-Air Battle (Literal English translation)
Credits: Director
Shusuke Kaneko
Matt Greenfield (U.S. dubbed version)

Writing credits
Kazunori Itô Matt Greenfield (U.S. dubbed version)

Cast
Tsuyoshi Ihara
Akira Onodera
Shinobu Nakayama
Ayako Fujitani
Yukijiro Hotaru
Hatsunori Hasegawa
Hirotaro Honda
Akira Kubo
Kojiro Hongo
Takashi Matsuo

Producer
Tsutomu Tsuchikawa
Matt Greenfield (U.S. version)

Score
Kô Ôtani

Cinematography
Kenji Takama
Junichi Tozawa

Editor
Shizuo Arakawa

Production Design
Hajime Oikawa

Sound Department Yasuo Hashimoto

Special Effects
Shinji Higuchi
Hajime Matsumoto
In the bering sea, a freighter transporting plutonium runs aground - apparently upon an atoll of some kind. Riddled with guilt, Yonemori (the navigator) insists on assisting the investigation - led by Dr. Kusanagi. Meanwhile on a small island off the coast of Japan, strange birds are feeding on the locals. Ms. Nagamine, an ornithology scholar, is taken to the island in search of her teacher - but what they find is a flying creature. Realizing that the island is void of food, the creatures begin to travel to the adjacent island. Taking this information to the ministry of defense, the order to capture the bird-like creatures is given. The JSDF utilizes the mechanical stadium dome and plans to herd the flying creatures and sedate them for study.

Back on ther atoll the investigative team has found hundreds of comma-shaped magatamas. As the begin digging, they find a giant stone tablet inscribed with runes. But when Yonemori touches the tablet, it shatters and the atoll begins to stir. As Yonemori falls into the water, he sees a giant eye as the atoll floats away.

In Fukuoka, the stadium is ready and the the sun is setting. The JSDF sucessfully herds the creatures to the dome, but when the creatures realize it is a trap one escapes. As it flys over the industrial section and out to sea, a giant turtle erupts from the water and swats it to the ground. He makes his way to the dome and means to destroy the bird-creatures. Both of the remaining creatures escape both their cages and the turtle's grasp. The turtle retracts its limbs and spouts powerful jets of energy from his shell. It takes to the sky and spins away like a flying saucer.

Perplexed by the evenings activities, more study is given to both the monster and the bird-like creatures. The runes found on the giant tablet are translated and the creatures are found to have been created thousands of years ago when the Mu empire (much like Atlantis) ruled the world. The turtle, Gamera was created as a protector of the Earth and was set to awaken when the bird-like creature, Gyaos, plagued the Earth again. Dr. Kusanagi's daughter, Asagi, is given a magatama bead, and forms a psychic link with the giant turtle. She understands Gamera's role. But the military's opinion was skewed and their primary attack was focused on Gamera - as the Ministry of Defense view the Gyaos as an endangered species. They track down Gamera and attack him with missles. Meanwhile the Gyaos are feeding in the forests of Mt. Fuji. In another confrontation, Gamera destroys one of the Gyaos - leaving another who has grown exponentially. After another military attack, Gamera recovers at the bottom of the sea. Gyaos travels to Tokyo and wrecks havoc. But once the military sees the threat of Gyaos, will it be too late to defend themselves? Only Gamera can save them, and as he awakens and makes his way to Tokyo, the ground is laid for the final battle.

I remember my friend in Atlanta praising this film before I'd seen it. I didn't really believe him until I saw it for myself. At the time, this was the best attempt at Kaiju Special Effects that I had seen, and I was blown away. I never thought that I'd think so highly of a Gamera film - hey, look at me now!
When you think about it, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe was up against all of the Heisei Godzilla films for SFX comparison. Everything from the suit design to the CGI effects were done so well. While its not my favorite, it was in 1996 (when I saw it). And this film was the catalyst for my love of Gamera, so the would be no Shrine of Gamera without this trilogy!.
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Cast and crew credits were taken from The Internet Movie Database
Gamera and Gamera character design © ™ DAIEI Co., LTD. 1965
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