Gamera vs. Zigra / Gamera: The Super Monster Noriaki Yuasa

Gamera vs. Zigra / Gamera: The Super Monster Noriaki Yuasa
Imagine the burden of being Gamera. In movie after movie, the giant flying turtle/protector of Japan/one-man Children's Watch agency is called upon to save two preteens and the nation of Japan (both parties being of roughly equal importance), and by the seventh and eight instalments, everyone seems to consider this just another day at the office. Are they still thankful? Should they be? The kids in Gamera vs. Zigra (1971) certainly aren't. When little Kenny informs little Helen that "Gamera is the friend of all children," there is no sense of awe in his tone; he takes Gamera as a given. When danger strikes, in the form of Zigra, a sinister space monster (who, in the English dubbing, claims that he will become the most feared monster "in all the planets of the world"), the Japanese army seems similarly unenthusiastic. While the early films featured many long scenes of government officials debating strategies for fighting their chronic monster infestation, here they have just a few perfunctory meetings. A news report claims that Zigra has "killed hundreds of families," but this tragic information is tossed aside without any further elaboration. And yet, by this point in the series, what else could one reasonably expect? Despite knocking over a few buildings and always losing his first fight, Gamera has a solid record of defeating enemy monsters, and Zigra is neither the first nor the best giant talking alien he has thrashed. So confident is Gamera in his ass-kicking proficiency that he actually plays his own theme song on his fallen enemy's spine, which, if you ask me, is pretty damn cocky. But could it be that the friend of all children is just putting on a brave face? Could there be pain deep within his turtle soul? Through the miracle of stock footage, our man fights six ― six! ― of his previous opponents in Gamera: The Super Monster (1980), but by this point he doesn't even attract a crowd, save for an annoying little boy and several spandex-clad space ladies. The lad claims to be Gamera's biggest fan, but from the way he blankly asserts that Gamera will defeat whatever monster he fights, and from how he barely sticks around for a high-five after any battle, it's clear he sees Gamera as nothing more than an abstract symbol of heroism. How does Gamera really feel about such shabby treatment? Doesn't anybody realize how hard it is to fight six monsters, one after another? What's the turtle equivalent of dehumanization? Every now and then, the Japanese film industry gives the Guardian of the Universe another revival, and I hope that one of them will eventually plumb his psychological depths. The Last Temptation of Gamera, anyone? (Shout! Factory)