Gamera

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Gamera (ガメラ) is a giant, flying turtle from a popular series of kaiju (Japanese giant monster) films produced by Daiei Motion Picture Company in Japan. Created in 1965 to rival the success of Toho Studios' Godzilla during the monster boom of the mid-to-late 1960s, Gamera has gained fame and notoriety as a Japanese icon in his own right.

In the United States, Gamera attained prominence during the 1970s due to the burgeoning popularity of UHF television stations featuring Saturday afternoon matinee showcases like Creature Double Feature and later in the 1990s when several Gamera films were featured on the television program Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Contents

Appearance

Gamera has the general configuration of a turtle, albeit a tremendously large one that is capable of bipedal locomotion. He occasionally walks quadrupedally in his first three films. Gamera demonstrates the ability to manipulate objects with his forepaws. His mouth is filled with teeth, with a pair of large tusks protruding from the lower jaws, a precedent unheard of in turtles, save perhaps for the prehistoric turtles Proganochelys and Odontochelys.

Origins

In the Shōwa era series Gamera was a titanic, fire-breathing, prehistoric species of tortoise who fed on petroleum-based material assumedly giving him the ability to breath fire and fly by "jets" ignited when the monster retracts its legs - it can propel itself by spinning through the air with all 4 legs in and (shown in later films) can fly straight with just the 2 rear legs drawn inside its shell. The original movie begins showing bombers of the U.S.S.R. being intercepted by American fighters over U.S. air space in the arctic (the intrusion may not be intentional). The Soviet pilots refuse to be forced down because of the presence of atomic bombs onboard their aircrafts so they attempt to leave the area. However, the fighters launch an attack and one of the bombers crashes into the ice. A nuclear blast ensues as does the release from suspended animation in the ice of a 200 foot long turtle. The incident unfolds over the heads of a Japanese research team who have stumbled upon an Eskimo tribe in possession of an artifact, an ancient stone etching, that suggests the giant turtle (maybe more than one) had been observed and duly noted at some earlier time in mankind's history. The moniker "Gamera" has already been given to the beast as the tribal chief relates to the researchers. The body of the film gives the impression that Gamera is a creature who's unusual adaptions must have somehow evolved in the latter part of Earth's early ammoniac, carbon-dioxidal atmosphere.

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