The "Friend of All Children" will be back on the big screen in 2006
Author: Keith Aiken and Daisuke Ishizuka
Additional Japanese material translated by Oki Miyano
Source: Sports Nippon, various
Special Thanks to August Ragone and Aaron Smith
The fire-breathing giant turtle Gamera hopes to fill the kaiju void left by Godzilla’s retirement. © 1967 DaieiSix years after GAMERA: REVENGE OF IRIS (Gamera 3: Iriusu Kakusei, 1999) ended the acclaimed Heisei Gamera trilogy, Kadokawa Pictures has announced that the monster will soon return to Japanese theaters. Tentatively entitled GAMERA: THE LITTLE BRAVES (Chiisaki Yusha-tachi, Gamera), the new film begins shooting late this month for a planned spring 2006 release.
The news comes on the 40th anniversary of the original GIANT MONSTER GAMERA (Daikaiju Gamera, 1965). Directed by the late Noriaki Yuasa for the Daiei Motion Picture Company, GAMERA was a box office smash that spawned six sequels between 1966 and 1971. By the third film in the series, GAMERA VS. GYAOS (Daikaiju Kuchusen: Gamera tai Gyaosu, 1967), the movies directly targeted kid audiences by featuring children in lead roles, bizarre and colorful stories, and cartoonish violence unlike anything seen in Toho’s Godzilla films. At its peak, this successful formula made Gamera a strong contender for Godzilla’s crown as "King of the Monsters". Unfortunately gross studio mismanagement drove Daiei into bankruptcy in 1971. The Tokuma Shoten Publishing Company purchased the studio in 1974 and began limited production of new films, including the stock footage fest GAMERA: SUPER MONSTER (Uchu Kaiju Gamera, 1980). The monster star returned in earnest on his 30th anniversary with GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (Gamera: Daikaiju Kuchu Kessen, 1995). The combination of director Shusuke Kaneko (GMK), effects director Shinji Higuchi (LORELEI: THE WITCH OF THE PACIFIC), writer Kazunori Ito (GHOST IN THE SHELL), and composer Kow Otani (GMK) resulted in an intelligent and creative story that was widely hailed as one the best kaiju films in decades. The team returned, and raised the bar even more, with GAMERA: ATTACK OF LEGION (Gamera 2: Region Shurai, 1996) and the aforementioned GAMERA: REVENGE OF IRIS.
The star of the new Gamera film, 11 year-old Ryo Tomioka.In July 2002, following the passing Tokuma's president, Yasunari Tokuma, Daiei was sold to the massive Kadokawa Publishing Company. In November of that year, chairman Maihiko Kadokawa launched the Kadokawa-Daiei Motion Picture Company, combining Kadokawa Pictures and Daiei (the name was later simplified to Kadokawa Pictures). At that time the chairman also announced that Kadokawa-Daiei had approached Toho about co-producing GODZILLA VS. GAMERA (see the 11/14/02 report here on H!O for details). After Toho rejected the offer Kadokawa moved ahead with a slew of new projects including Masaaki Tezuka’s (GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA, GODZILLA: TOKYO SOS) G.I SAMURAI: 1549 (Sengoku Jietai 1549), a remake of an earlier Kadokawa Picture from the 1980s, and an updated version of SPOOK WARFARE (Yokai Daisenso) from director Takashi Miike (AUDITION, ZEBRAMAN). Now comes official word that a new solo Gamera film is in the works.
Early word suggests that GAMERA: LITTLE BRAVES will not be direct sequel to the previous film but will instead launch a new series of movies by taking the flying turtle back to his "Friend of All Children" roots. Producer Yoichi Arashige (the international hit SHALL WE DANCE? and Takashi Miike’s ONE MISSED CALL) remarked that the film will cross monster action with the relationship between a father and son. Directing the film is Toei veteran Ryuta Tazaki, who has helmed episodes of MASKED RIDER BLACK (Kamen Raida Burakku, 1987), MASKED RIDER BLACK-RX (Kamen Raida Burakku RX, 1988), MASKED RIDER AGITO (Kamen Raida Agito, 2001), MASKED RIDER RYUKI (Kamen Rider Ryuki, 2002), MASKED RIDER 555 (Kamen Raida Faiz, 2003), PRETTY GUARDIAN: SAILOR MOON (Bishojo Senshi Serra Muun, 2003), as well as several recent well-regarded Masked Rider theatrical films. In 1999, Tazaki came to the United States to direct episodes of POWER RANGERS: LOST GALAXY and POWER RANGERS: LIGHTSPEEED RESCUE.
Popular child star Kaho plays one of the leads in GAMERA: LITTLE BRAVES. This photo is from her recent television series CELL PHONE DETECTIVE. © 2004The story by screenwriter Yukari Tatsui (the TV drama VIRGIN ROAD, 1997) opens with Gamera saving a young boy during a battle with a flock of Gyaos. Thirty years later, the son of that boy discovers an egg which hatches a new Gamera. The two become fast friends and the little monster grows quickly. The young Gamera is soon spinning through the air and belching fireballs... but is he up to the challenge posed by a new, threatening monster?
As with the classic Gamera films of the 1960s, the lead roles in GAMERA: LITTLE BRAVES will be played by children. 11 year-old television actor Ryo Tomioka plays the boy who befriends the baby monster. Also starring is 13 year-old Kaho, a cast member of the popular 2004 TV series CELL PHONE DETECTIVE (Keitai Deka). Playing the children’s fathers are Kanji Tsuda and Susumu Terashima. The two have worked together before, most notably in Takeshi "Beat" Kitano’s FIREWORKS (Hana-bi, 1997) and DOLLS (2002). Tsuda’s credits also include the massive hit BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN (Odoru Daisosasen, 1998), MASKED RIDER RYUKI, JU-ON (2003), and ZATOICHI (2003), while Susumu Terashima appeared in ICHI THE KILLER (Koroshiya 1, 2001) and CASSHERN (2004).
While Kaneko, Higuchi, Ito, and Otani are busy with their own projects and will not be involved with the new film, at least one veteran from the Heisei movies is returning for GAMERA: LITTLE BRAVES. Issue 244 of FANGORIA reports that monster suit maker Tomoo Haraguchi has signed on to make the new Gamera suits. In the early 1980s Haraguchi established the company Monsters Inc., with Godzilla suit maker Shinichi Wakasa, and in recent years he has directed the features SAKUYA: SLAYER OF DEMONS (Sakuya Yokaiden, 2000) and KIBAKICHI (Kibakichi Bakko Yokaiden, 2004). The latter film will be released in the US this month from MTI Home Video.
OH great. A throw back to Gamera Vs Guiron. BRING BACK KANEKO!