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Gamera: The Complete Collection (Arrow Video) (Blu-ray Review)

Gamera: The Complete CollectionGamera first appeared in Yuasa Noriaki’s 1965 film Gamera, the Giant Monster, produced by Daiei Film during Japan’s boom in kaiju content that began circa Toho’s Gojira (1954), better known as “Godzilla” to western audiences, and continued on with such kaiju TV series hits as the Ultraman franchise. Gamera was and is the biggest competitor to Godzilla when it comes to the kaiju genre, but given the two competing studios differing financial fortunes over the years (Toho still going strong, Daiei constantly in a financial struggle and eventually being bought out by Kadokawa), the giant flying turtle never quite reached the same level of international fame and success. Gamera also did not really start life as a post-war commentary on American imperialism and the after-effects of the atomic bomb on Japanese society. Americans missed much of that political commentary in Godzilla given the hacked to pieces Western edits that removed much of the relevant material from the versions they saw anyway. On the other hand, the creators of Gamera always intended the franchise to be more kid-friendly, and one can see, particularly starting from the third film, Gamera Vs. Gyaos (1967) that the plots for nearly every film in the series is centered around a child and that Gamera is portrayed as a hero or defender of humanity, even given the backlash caused in the West over the downright violent fights in Gamera vs. Guiron (1969) that even include a beheading.

The kaiju genre to Western audiences not familiar with it may seem rather strange, given its low budget visual effects, men in monster suits, and miniature models, but there is a lot to digest and enjoy and Gamera: The Complete Collection offers a great way to see one of the biggest, most beloved creatures in the genre outside of Godzilla.

There are of course going to be some high and low points in a sprawling collection such as this one. For example, 1980’s Gamera Super Monster was produced at a time of financial turmoil for Daiei and done on slim budget utilizing extensive stock footage from the entire Gamera franchise and also Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. This space-based entry, the eight in the franchise, that followed 1971’s Gamera vs. Zigra, is also the lowest point in the franchise’s history.

But never fear, because if Gamera: the Complete Collection is weighed down by the half-hearted, low budget effort of Gamera Super Monster, then it’s the Heisei Trilogy of Gamera the Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996), and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999) that helps to really uplift the entire set. The 90’s films reset Gamera which had been lost in the wilderness and really written off as too cheesy, too yesterday. These three films rebooted the franchise and brought the giant turtle back to respectability with their genre-defying films, the return of classic nemeses, and contemporary visual aesthetics, helping then franchise appeal to older audiences while not throwing away the appeal to kids.

Gamera: The Complete Collection also includes a multitude of alternate US cuts and English dubs of various films and a trove of collectible content and bonus features, including numerous interviews, audio commentaries, featurettes, and more. See below for more information and technical specifications for each film.

The Video

All twelve films in the collection have beautiful AVC 1080p encodements in their various original aspect ratios ranging from 2.39:1 to 1.85:1 on Blu-ray, with the Heisei Trilogy of Gamera the Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996), and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999) coming from new 4K restorations that look stunning and are unsurprisingly the standout films in the collection as far as picture quality given their vintage and restoration provenance. The final film in the collection, Gamera the Brave (2006), is the first Gamera film (and only one in this collection) to be shot digitally. It also looks great and surprisingly filmic given it is an HD production from 2006. The original and first Gamera film in the collection, Gamera the Giant Monster (1965), is the one and only film shot in black and white. Its 2.35:1 AVC 1080p enocodement also looks beautiful with stark black and white contrast and natural film grain. In fact, any of the films you pull up in this collection are going to give you a rich and natural color pallet (the first film excluded, obviously) and an organic film grain structure (last film excluded for obvious reasons). And given the breadth of the set, it is remarkably consistent in quality.

The Audio

There are various audio formats in this vast, eight-disc collection from Arrow Video. All films are provided with lossless DTS-HD Master Audio for the original Japanese-language mixes and the English dubs. Starting with the earliest films that are in 1.0 until we get to the Heisei Trilogy starting with Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995) which includes 5.1 and 2.0 stereo mixes. The 5.1 mixes are big and atmospheric, include deep low end and clear dialogue.

The Supplements

There are a staggering amount of extras and bonus features included in this collection. See below for all the details.

COLLECTOR’S EDITION BOX SET CONTENTS

  • Limited collectors’ edition packaging, housed in a large-format rigid box, fully illustrated by Matt Frank
  • Casebound, fully-illustrated disc book containing eight Blu-ray discs
  • High Definition (1080p) versions of all twelve films, with lossless original Japanese audio and a complete collection of English dub tracks, including classic American International dubs on the Showa-era films remastered from original MGM elements
  • Hardback 130-page comic book including a full-color reprint of the four-issue Gamera comic series originally released by Dark Horse Comics in 1996, and the first-ever English-language printing of the prequel comic The Last Hope by Matt Frank and Joshua Bugosh
  • Perfect-bound 80-page book including a new retrospective on the series by Patrick Macias, an archive interview with Noriaki Yuasa by David Milner, kaiju X-ray illustrations by Jolyon Yates, Fangoria set reports on the Heisei trilogy by Norman England, and a viewers’ guide to the English-dubbed versions of the films
  • Double-sided four-panel poster of “Gamera’s Map of Japan” in both Japanese and English
  • Collectors’ artcards for each film, featuring new artwork by Matt Frank

Disc 1:

Gamera: The Giant Monster

AVC 1080p black & white

Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0

Secondary: English DTS-HD MA 1.0

Subs: English

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary by August Ragone
  • Introduction by August Ragone – A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone (1080p; 00:13:12)
  • Gamera the Invincible – The American theatrical version of the film, with English dubbing and additional scenes directed by Sandy Howard.
    • US Theatrical Trailer
    • Theme Song
  • Remembering the Gamera Series (1080p; 00:23:12) – This retrospective documentary form 1991 features interviews with the crew members including director Noriaki Yuasa and writer Nisan Takahashi, as well as a look at the unmade film Gamera vs. Garasharp.
  • Interview with Noriaki Yuasa (1080i; 00:13:11) – Filmed by Jörg Buttgereit in 2002 at Daiei Studios.
  • Gamera Special (1080p; 00:58:11) – This “best of” compilation, showcasing selected fight scenes and trailers for the first eight films, was supervised by Noriaki Yuasa and released on VHS in 1991.
  • Alternate English Credits
  • Original Japanese Trailer
  • US Video Promo
  • Image Gallery

Disc 2:

Gamera vs. Barugon

AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0

Secondary: English DTS-HD MA 1.0 (A.I.T.V.) | English DTS-HD MA 1.0 (Daiei)

Subs: English

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by August Ragone & Jason Varney
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:07:55) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone
  • War of the Monsters – The 88-minute American version of Gamera vs. Barugon, missing 12 minutes and retitled War of the Monsters, offers a more streamlined, faster-paced version of the film.
  • Alternate English Credits
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Image Gallery

Gamera vs. Gyaos

AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0

Secondary: English DTS-HD MA 1.0 (A.I.T.V.) | English DTS-HD MA 1.0 (Daiei)

Subs: English

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:09:12) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone
  • Alternate English Credits
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Image Gallery

Disc 3:

Gamera vs. Viras

AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0

Secondary: English DTS-HD MA 1.0

Subs: English

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Carl Craig & Jim Cirronella
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:11:14) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone
  • Gamera vs. Viras – 52 Years Later (1080i; 00:12:29) – In this newly filmed featurette by Jim Cirronella, actor Carl Craig shows us his souvenirs from the filming, including original props.
  • G-Fest 2003 Highlights (720p; 01:00:58) – Noriaki Yuasa and Carl Craig were guests of honor at the 2003 edition of the annual kaiju-themed G-Fest convention in Chicago. These are filmed highlights from the convention, shot by Mike Tynus and Laura LaRocca of Tynuson Productions.
  • The 4th Nippon Jamboree (720p; 00:06:18) – Edited highlights from a promotional film for the Boy Scouts of Japan made by Noriaki Yuasa in 1966, shortly before the production of Gamera vs. Viras.
  • Alternate English Credits
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Image Gallery

Gamera vs. Guiron

AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0

Secondary: English DTS-HD MA 1.0 #1 (A.I.T.V.) | English DTS-HD MA 1.0 #2 (Daiei)

Subs: English

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by David Kalat
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:11:24) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone
  • Alternate English Credits
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Neptune Media Archive Gallery

Disc 4:

Gamera vs. Jiger

2.35:1 AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0

Secondary: English DTS-HD MA 1.0

Subs: English

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Edward H. Holland
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:08:39) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone
  • Alternate English Credits
  • Original Japanese Trailer
  • Original German Trailer
  • US TV Spot
  • Image Gallery

Gamera vs. Zigra

AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0

Secondary: English DTS-HD MA 1.0

Subs: English

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Sean Rhoads & Brooke McCorkle
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:08:22) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone
  • Alternate English Credits
  • Original Japanese Trailer
  • US Video Promo
  • Image Galler

Gamera Super Monster

AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0

Secondary: English DTS-HD MA 1.0

Subs: English

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Richard Pusateri
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:06:05) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone
  • Alternate English Credits
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Image Gallery

Disc 5:

Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe

1.85:1 AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1

Secondary: Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 | English (US) DTS-HD MA 5.1 | English (US) DTS-HD MA 2.0 | English (UK) DTS-HD MA 2.0

Subs: English

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Matt Frank
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:04:34) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone
  • A Testimony of 15 Years: Part 1 (720p; 01:55:46) – The first installment of an epic three-part documentary from 2010 interviewing the cast and crew of the Heisei Trilogy.
  • Interviews with Shusuke Kaneko & Shinji Higuchi (720p; 00:35:47) — These interviews with director Shusuke Kaneko and FX director Shinji Higuchi were filmed by Jörg Buttgereit in 2002 at Daiei Studios.
  • SFX Interview with Shinji Higuchi (720p; 01:32:42) – This in-depth interview with FX director Shinji Higuchi, looking at how the trilogy’s effects sequences were achieved, was produced in 2001.
  • Behind the Scenes (720p; 00:16:01) – Archive featurette containing on-set footage and interviews with the filmmakers.
  • Production Announcement (720p; 00:05:05) – Watch as the film is formally announced at Daiei Studios on April 25th 1994.
  • Backstage Clip: The Legend (720p; 00:04:16) – A compilation of behind-the-scenes footage set to music
  • Yubari Film Festival (720p; 00:06:13) – Watch as the filmmakers unveil the film at the Yubari International Fantastic Adventure Film Festival in February 1995.
  • Hibiya Theater Opening Day (00:02:55) – Watch as the cast and crew present the film on its opening day at the Hibiya Theater, Tokyo on March 11th 1995.
  • Alternate English Credits
  • Trailers & TV Spots
  • Image Gallery

Disc 6:

Gamera 2: Attack of Legion

1.85:1 AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1

Secondary: Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | English DTS-HD MA 2.0 | “Lake Texarkana” Comedy Dub

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Kyle Yount
  • “Lake Texarkana” Comedy Dub
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:04:20) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone
  • A Testimony of 15 Years: Part 2 (720p; 02:01:44) — The second installment of an epic three-part documentary interviewing the cast and crew of the Heisei Trilogy
  • Behind the Scenes: Production Footage (720p; 00:59:54) – An on-location look at the ‘main unit’ scenes being filmed.
  • Behind the Scenes: SFX Footage (720p; 00:39:46) – An on-set look at the scenes being filmed by the special effects unit, after the main production had wrapped.
  • Production Announcement (720p; 00:06:34) – Watch as the film’s production is formally announced at Daiei Studios on November 27, 1995.
  • Backstage Clip: Sky (720p; 00:03:11) – A compilation of behind-the-scenes footage set to music.
  • Promotional Events (720p; 00:05:15)
  • Hibiya Theater Opening Day (720p; 00:03:58)
  • Additional English Credits
  • Comedy Dub Outtakes
  • Trailers & TV Spots
  • Image Gallery

Disc 7:

Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris

1.85:1 AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1

Secondary: Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Steve Ryfle & Ed Godziszewski
  • Commentary by “Gamera, Iris & Soldier 6”
  • Introduction by August Ragone (1080p; 00:04:13) — A newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert August Ragone.
  • A Testimony of 15 Years: Part 3 (720p; 02:14:31) — The final installment of an epic three-part documentary interviewing the cast and crew of the Heisei Trilogy.
  • DNA Tonkatsu Exhibition (1080p; 00:10:46) – A newly filmed interview with Kaho Tsutsumi from the DNA Tokusatsu exhibition in Tokyo by kaiju historian Edward L. Holland.
  • Publicity Announcement (720p; 00:03:50) – From Tokuma Hall, Tokyo on July 9, 1998.
  • Photo Op (720p; 00:00:55) – August 10, 1998 – Daiei Studio, Tokyo.
  • Backstage Clip: I Want You to Teach Me Again (720p; 00:04:41)
  • Shibuto Cine Tower Opening Day (720p; 00:05:59)
  • Deleted Scenes (720p; 00:10:18)
  • The Awakening of Irys (Remix) (720p; 00:37:34) – A montage of behind the scenes footage and work-in-progress special effects shots.
  • Storyboard Animation (720p; 00:06:08)
  • Special Effects Outtakes (720p; 00:02:19)
  • Comedy Dub Outtakes (720p; 00:03:23)
  • Additional English Credits
  • Trailers & TV Spots
  • Image Gallery

Disc 8:

Gamera the Brave

2.39:1 AVC 1080p

Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1

Secondary: Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Keith Aiken & Bob Johnson
  • How to Make a Gamera Movie, a featurette hosted by director Ryuta Tasaki (720p; 00:37:14) – in this archive featurette, the film’s director presents an informative look at how the film was made.
  • Behind the Scenes of Gamera the Brave, an all-access on-set documentary (720p; 01:03:38) – An archive all-access look into the shooting of the film, including the film’s special effects sequences.
  • The Men That Made Gamera, a documentary looking back at the series from start to finish, featuring interviews with cast and crew (720p; 00:43:15)
  • Opening Day Premiere, a featurette showing the cast and crew presenting the film at its first showing (720p; 00:05:00) – The cast and crew present the film at its first public screening at Marunouchi Piccadilly, Tokyo, on April 29th, 2006.
  • Kaho’s Summer, an interview with the film’s young star (720; 00:10:02)
  • Special Effects Supercut, a montage of effects shots overseen by FX supervisor Hajime Matsumoto (720p; 00:32:32)
  • Trailer and image galleries

The Final Assessment

This set is colossal! And one that fans of kaiju are sure to love. Maybe this will expand the market for Gamera fans or maybe startup some new friendly rivalries between team Gamera and team Godzilla; whatever the case, this is a set that has beautiful picture quality, excellent sound, and an overabundance of extras and bonus features. Get it while it’s hot!

Gamera: The Complete Collection is out 18 August 2020 from Arrow Video


  • The Creative Content: 3.5/5
  • The Video: 4.5/5
  • The Audio: 4.5/5
  • The Supplements: 5/5
  • Studios & Distributors: Kadokawa Daiei Pictures Inc. | Arrow Video
  • Directors: Yuasa Noriaki | Howard Sandy | Tanaka Shigeo | Kaneko Shusuke | Tasaki Ryuta
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Audio Format: Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 | Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0 | Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | English DTS-HD MA 1.0 | DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English
  • Run Time: 1174 Mins.
  • Original MSRP: $179.95
  • Street Date: 18 August 2020
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