Release dates: March 11, 1995. July 13, 1996. March 6, 1999.
Casts: Shinobu Nakayama, Ayako Fujitani, Yukijirô Hotaru (1995)
Miki Mizuno, Toshiyuki Nagashima, Tamotsu Ishibashi (1996)
Shinobu Nakayama, Ai Maeda, Yukijiro Hotaru (1999)
Japan’s other kaiju star is Gamera, who debuted in the 1965 picture Gamera: The Giant Monster. While the character and the movie were first intended to compete with the success of Godzilla, the franchise eventually became iconic in its own right. Initially a fire-breathing turtle monster exposed to nuclear radiation, Gamera went from destructive to benevolent, eventually becoming a protector of humanity.
There are 12 Gamera movies so far, but the Heisei-era trilogy – comprised of Guardian of the Universe, Attack of the Legion, and Revenge of Iris (Jashin kakusei) – is widely regarded as the franchise’s absolute peak. Critics and fans praised the vibrant and energetic action of these installments, which was coupled with a cohesive storyline and a masterful mix of suitmation and CGI effects.