Today I watched Ryuta Tazaki’s Gamera the Brave (2006)
This film’s chronology ignores the previous films and begins in the 70’s where a Gamera closer to it’s old incarnation sacrifices itself to save humanity from the Gyaos. Cut to the present day and a survivor from that attack who was just a boy then now has a son of his own named Toru. Together they live in a rural Japanese coastal community and it seems Toru’s mother has died recently. As if in response to his grief, Toru finds a strange egg witch hatches into an odd turtle like creature. This turtle turns out to be a tiny Gamera, complete with rocket propulsion and fire breath and everything. Of course Gamera is a giant monster and soon the hatchling is outgrowing his human friends. But while all this is happening the region has been plagued with shipping accidents, the cause of which is a new Kaiju threat. With a new Gamera having so recently hatched, will he, the protector of the universe and friend of the children, be mature enough to fight against this powerful foe?
Gamera the Brave seeks to revisit the nostalgia and campy fun of the original Gamera series, yet it is hardly as naive or silly as that could have been. It’s a boy and his pet type story and behind that lies a lot of trauma in the boy’s life, damage that must be healed by this fantastical friendship. As we are introduced to Toru he silently laments that his mother died in a car crash and that she is not in heaven, she is in a box of ashes beneath the grave, that’s some dark stuff to hear from someone so young, but it establishes a real emotional maturity in a film hearkening back to some of the least mature Daikaiju films of all time.
I also think this is just an incredible looking film as well with some wonderfully fanciful imagery. Yet the imagery is largley not fantastical, the film uses a rural setting and subtly evokes the imagination of it’s adolescent characters purely with framing, editing, and real world locations. This film blends emotional maturity with childlike fancy in a way that is totally unique for giant monster movies, which makes it something very special indeed, check it out if you get the chance. 5/5