After the release of Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, Daiei Co. would go on to sell a large percentage of their assets to a company called the Kadokawa Corporation. One of those assets that was sold to Kadokawa happened to be Gamera. Kadokawa would form a new studio with Daiei called Kadokawa Daiei Studio which produced Gamera: The Brave.
Gamera: The Brave was originally meant to reboot the franchise with a new series of films. Due to the movie's underwhelming performance at the Japanese box-office, any future plans were canceled.
Despite the movie releasing in 2006, Gamera: The Brave is categorized as a Heisei film rather than a stand-alone Millenium era film according to Kadokawa. This also makes this film the only Gamera film that does not share continuity with the Heisei trilogy films.
In 1973, Gamera saved Japan from the swarm of Gyaos by sacrificing itself. Thirty-three years later, a small boy finds an egg that hatches a baby turtle. The boy keeps the turtle as a pet secretly from his father and the turtle rapidly grows larger. Meanwhile, a monster called Zedus goes on a rampage hunting people and it is up to Toto, the small turtle that grew into the second Gamera, to save Japan.
After Tristar released GODZILLA in 1998, Toho would bring Godzilla out of retirement to course correct Godzilla's image. Starting with Godzilla 2000, Toho would release one movie a year. By Godzilla's 50th anniversary, however, monster movies were becoming over saturated and Godzilla: Final Wars bombed in the Japanese box-office. Despite being a financial bomb, Gamera: The Brave is actually a cute film that sort of harkens back to the Showa era of Gamera films with a more child-friendly approach. I know that sounds bad when you think the Showa era of Gamera, but this movie is actually better than you might think.
The story is a story about a boy named Toru who raises a baby turtle in secret from his father, which grows to be Gamera. There is a whole backstory about Toru's mother having died in a car accident and Toru and his father have been having a hard time coping nor do they even talk about it. Toru relied on his baby turtle that he names Toto as a way to cope. After a few weird incidents happened surrounding Toto, however, his childhood friend, Mai, showed him the history of Gamera that sacrificed itself to save Japan from the Gyaos. Toru tries to deny that this baby tortoise is the same Gamera that killed the Gyaos in 1973, yet when Zedus had first made landfall Toto had grown into Gamera. While Toto is trying to save Japan from Zedus, Toru and his friends task themselves to save Toto.
The movie is a "boy and his dog" kind of story. It knows how to play with your emotions when it comes to cutesy animals and putting them in dangerous scenarios. It is sort of like watching a Disney movie, but the Disney from the past when they were still good and considered a family-friendly studio and not the current year Disney that puts out mediocre remakes and woke garbage. The movie's story makes you want to see these characters succeed in saving Gamera and it actually plays into those emotions of quirkiness or sadness really well. The only issue I have with the story is that Toru and his father never really had a heart to heart about the death of Toru's mother. The story tries a couple of times, yet it is like the movie decides to just steer away from that. I would have liked to have seen that resolved here since a lot of Toru's motivation in wanting to save Gamera all stems from his mother's death and Toru raising Gamera as a way to cope with it. So I would have really liked to have seen this resolved so it didn't stay loose ended.
Another issue I have are the fight scenes. For this movie, the primary focus is more on the human story more than the fights themselves. The monster fights that happens are either short and sweet or are just in the background as obstacles. While I am okay with fights being short or more being in the background, the choreography of the fights could have been handled better. This is not an entirely new thing. We have seen short fight scenes or monster fights happening in the background handled better in previous movies. I will say that finale of the second fight was explosive.
Gamera's design is cute and adorable. His new design for Gamera: The Brave sees the return of a child-friendly design with cute puppy eyes and stockier build to make him look at that much cuter. Although, his new roar plain sucks and really knocks the design down a peg or two. All Kadokawa really did was exchange Gamera's classic roar with stock sound clips of random animals. These roars you may have heard from the Dino De Laurentis version of King Kong if you have watched it and if you have it is so awful to listen to. It is so awful that one international distributor even offered Kadokawa to switch it out for Gamera's classic roar and Kadokawa declined. I do have a hot take that this design kind of does not work with the old Gamera sounds either. I have seen fan edits that tried to re-edit the sounds back to the classic roar and I just have a hard time seeing this design having the classic sounds coming out of Gamera's mouth. It just does not look good at all. The only noises I did like are all of the purrs Gamera makes when he is being petted by Toru. I think it just showed that it was time to update Gamera's sounds and the one used officially for this movie and the fan re-edit of the classic sounds just did not work out at all.
I really liked the design for Zedus. It looks like a spiky T-Rex with the frill from the dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park. It is a simple design that I like and the first monster in a really long time that doesn't fly nor leap very high. Its feet stays on the ground for most of the movie. Almost all of Gamera's enemies have been able to fly or leap into the sky. It's weird, but I am happy that this monster does not fly. The last monster that kept its feet on the ground was Viras and after that every monster was given the ability to fly or leap very high like Oprah passing out free books. Zedus has this long tongue that can puncture and stab through hard objects like a pike or spear. Some will say it looks generic, but I really like the design just for how simple it looks and how it fits with the tone of the movie. However, the origin of the monster was no where mentioned in the movie. It just seemed like that part was forgotten about and never really explained how that monster appeared in the first place.
Officially, this movie is part of the Heisei era according to Kadokawa's movie time line. Yet, I don't really see it that way. I see Gamera: The Brave as more of a stand alone film for the Millenium era. Gamera has a whole new design and the story has no connection with the previous three movies. I just have this feeling that there was supposed to be a whole movie series based around this Gamera for the Millenium era that was just scrapped due to poor performance in the Japanese box office. Maybe it was for the better, though.
At the time this movie released, there were a lot of other monster movies that flooded the market and Godzilla had just retired after Godzilla: Final Wars had flopped. Kadokawa were even warned by their investors to not make this movie because they monster movies were not being financially viable nor were they popular, at the time. It is the effect we are seeing with comic book movies and Star Wars right now which audiences are just done with them. Monster movies back then were just not big money makers back then. Thanks to Gamera's long retirement, the concept trailer that was shown at 2016's New York Comic Con actually resulted in fans wanting to see Gamera back in action and we will be seeing Gamera in action next week in Gamera: Rebirth.
Despite the weird design choices for Gamera, Gamera: The Brave is actually a film that shouldn't be overlooked. It has a great story with characters that are easily likable and it is all around fun. If you can tolerate the weird sounds from Gamera, then it shouldn't ruin your movie experience at all. I say give it a watch. My only recommendation is to watch it with subtitles over English dub.
With that, this concludes my Gamerathon, but I am not done with Gamera just yet. We are one week away from Gamera: Rebirth coming to Netflix. So make sure to stay tuned for that by following me on Facebook, Minds, MeWe, Gab, and TRUTH Social. Also, I want to know what your thoughts on Gamera: The Brave. Did you think this movie was good or bad? What did you like or didn't like about the movie? You can do that by leaving a comment in the comments section and I will see you all in the next one.