Netflix is rebooting a monster of truly epic proportions, one that was initially set to compete next to the likes of Godzilla. Just like the king of the kaiju, Gamera is the result of nuclear weaponry and originally debuted in 1965 in the film Gamera, The Giant Monster. But what is this monster and how is it making its way over to Netflix?
What is Gamera?
Gamera is a kaiju (strange beast). Much like how Godzilla is reptilian in design, so too is this kaiju, with Gamera being based in part on turtles. The name Gamera (ガメラ Ga-me-ra) is linked to the word for turtle, kame (かめ ka-me) simply adding “ra” to the end, similar to Godzilla (Go-ji-ra) and Mothra (mo-su-ra). Physiology-wise the monster resembles a prehistoric turtle with its shell. However, it is capable of walking on two legs and also able to fly, utilizing jet streams that come from its limb holes when its legs are retracted inside the shell.
The shell is extremely resilient, able to deflect bombs and missiles, though its lower portion is more vulnerable than the upper. It has razor-sharp teeth and two tusks that protrude upwards from its lower mouth. The design has of course changed since its original inception. New abilities have been added to it with each outing, such as sustaining itself on the likes of fossil fuels and even lava.
The origins of the kaiju have changed with different tellings as well. The original monster was awoken by American ships attacking enemy bombers and causing a nuclear explosion that awakens the beast from its icy slumber. In the 1995 reboot, Gamera was instead bio-engineered by the long-lost city of Atlantis to act as their protector. Though starting off as a destructive and aggressive character, it eventually was depicted as benevolent and a protector of human-kind.
The history of Gamera on the screen
Gamera debuted back when kaiju were all the rage after Godzilla made his debut just over 10 years earlier in 1954. Though there had been examples of this kind of giant monster in theatres prior, with 1925’s The Lost World and 1933’s King Kong having been around for some time, it wasn’t until post-World War II that the Kaiju genre took off in Japan. Godzilla stood as a metaphor for nuclear war, and Japan having been the only country on Earth where nuclear weapons have been used against them.
Gamera was the creation of Yonejiro Saito, along with others, as property of the production company, Daiei Film. The 1965 film was intended to compete with the Godzilla film series, though it was described as a cheap imitation at the time. The first film, Gamera, The Giant Monster, was directed by Noriaki Yuasa who remained one of the main directors for the franchise. Despite having been labeled a ripoff, the monster went on to have 12 films produced by Daiei and later Kadokawa Daiei Studios, and has become iconic within the Kaiju genre.
The monster’s last film outing was in 2006’s Gamera the Brave, but it has also been depicted in comic books, television shows, and in gaming.
Gamera is reborn on Netflix
Now it has been announced that the monster is getting a new lease of life, this time on the streaming giant Netflix, which could open up the audience for this genre even wider. The new production will be titled Gamera – Rebirth and will be released globally in the not-too-distant future. Though not much has been divulged about the project so far, fans have been treated to a short video and poster of the monster via the Netflix Japan Twitter account.
The show’s own Twitter page wrote a tweet announcing its return. “From the Showa era to the Heisei era, the production of the new work GAMERA Rebirth of the Giant Monster. Gamera has been loved by monster fans all over the world has been decided! Global distribution on Netflix!”
There is no date yet given for when the production will arrive on Netflix.