Gamera, The Giant Monster is due out from Shout! Factory on the 18th of May, a little more than a month from now, but the screener just came in and is, frankly, too awesome not to share (a thorough review of the disc and film will appear here closer to the release date). Fans out there who have yet to pre-order this title should head over to Amazon.com and take care of that ASAP. You won’t be disappointed.
First things first – the packaging on this release is exceptional all around. Major points to Shout! Factory for utilizing clear Amaray cases, as I repackage my home video library into these either way. The artwork is nice all around, and based upon still photos of the titular behemoth and his human co-stars. Opening the package one finds well designed disc art as well as a 12-page booklet, featuring a 2001 essay by director Noriaki Yuasa, character bios, a neat anatomical rendering of Gamera himself (reproduced as the inside art for the case!), and a reproduction of the original theatrical poster. Good stuff, but don’t take my word for it:
Things only get better once the disc hits the player. Shout! Factory’s release offers nice Arctic-themed animated menus and easy operations – each menu option is also, amusingly, accompanied with an exclamation mark. Having seen the film before I headed straight for the supplements.
Making its first appearance on legitimate US DVD is the Gamera retrospective that originally appeared (without subtitles) on Daiei’s expansive LD boxed set in the 1990′s and was divided into brief pieces for the Toshiba / Daiei DVD release in 2002 (again, without subtitles). Featuring input from director Yuasa and other members of the crew, this brief piece covers the full history of Daiei’s original Gamera series and even offers up a brief reconstruction of what the unfilmed Gamera vs. Garasharp may have been like. New in the supplemental department is a feature commentary by August Ragone, author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters. This is a fine track, offering insight into the Cold War setting of the film and a wealth of back info for the production and biographical information on the cast and crew. Extensive image galleries (still and publicity photos, the American pressbook, and even an International Sales Brochure) and the original Japanese theatrical trailer round out the supplements.
As most of you have probably heard, only the original Japanese version of Gamera, The Giant Monster is included on this disc, so hold onto your old Neptune Media VHS of Gammera the Invincible. As for the Japanese cut, it’s never looked better in standard definition. Shout! Factory has utilized Kadokawa Pictures HD master (which recently appeared on Blu-ray in Japan) with excellent results. The transfer is clean, crisp, and all-around fantastic, and the well-translated English subtitles that accompany it certainly don’t hurt! The basic details are that it’s progressive and anamorphic with almost exactly the same framing as the 2002 release (a slightly wider 2.26:1 versus the older 2.25:1). The film has been cleaned up considerably, and the new HD master presents with neither the video noise or artificial edge enhancement of its SD predecessor.
Gamera, the Giant Monster‘s first legitimate appearance on domestic DVD is a winner all around, and it’s wonderful to see another fan favorite getting its long-due respect. As far as Wtf-Film is concerned, Shout! Factory’s Gamera, the Giant Monster is a must buy!