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Gamera, The Giant Monster DVD (Shout! Factory, 2010)

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!

7 thoughts on “Gamera, The Giant Monster DVD (Shout! Factory, 2010)

  1. Indeed! Same for the trailer, which looks to be from a newer master as well. Watching it on a 1080p widescreen set as I type this, upconverted via my PS3 – looks great! It’s a nice step up from the 2002 Toshiba / Daiei release that’s been bootlegged all over creation.

    (edit, 04/07/2010: added more technical details about the video transfer to the main article)

  2. Awesome. I keep seeing the Blu-Rays here in Japan and these discs (plus the Blu’s lack of subtitles) have been making me hold off. Glad to see it’s going to be worth the wait.

    However…I’m highly disappointed that Gammera the Invincible wasn’t part of the package. I can’t help but feel these discs are going to be it for a long time as far as legit R1 stuff goes. I can’t see anyone doing a separate US version release. I was just hoping these would be closer to the Classic Media Godzilla discs.

    But, there’s always something to complain about, no? At least I can finally watch the documentary with subs. That’s a plus. :)

  3. I’ve been very happy with the subtitles on this one – they’re more literate than what I recall seeing on the Classic Media releases (at least for ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Godzilla Raids Again’) and are a legible white instead of CM’s ghastly wiry yellow. The only potential sticking point with the translation is that Toshio’s pet turtle is referred to as “Pee-wee”. It’s just another layer of hoaky goodness to me, but I can see some being aggravated by it.

  4. I’m the author of the English subtitle script for GAMERA, and I thank you for the kind complements. As for “Pee-wee”, that’s exactly the English equivalent to the Japanese, “Chi-bi” (“chi” from “chisana” or “little”), which may also be translated as “Little One” or “Little Bit”, of other variations. I consulted with some professional Japanese translators, who proofed my script, and I particularly obsessed over Chi-bi/Pee-wee.

    All of them said that what I picked was the best transliteration, considering the time the film was made. A name like Pee-wee for a pet animal surely would have been in an English language film with no qualms. I’m not sure if I’m getting my hands on the script for BARUGON, but I would like to edit the rest of them for Shout!

    Keep up the good work!

  5. I’d go so far as to recommend that Shout! Factory send subtitle duties your way for the rest of their ‘Gamera’ releases, August. I’m not exaggerating when I say that these are the best subtitles I’ve seen for a Japanese genre release in a long time, and the work you put into them shows.

  6. Awesome write-up, Kevin! Sorta jealous you got a screener copy. I want one. Anywhoozles, I am absolutely, 100% going to pick this beauty up. Glad to hear about the nice presentation (I’m a sucker for a good cover and DVD presentation). Again, thanks for the post! May 18th can’t come fast enough! (well, yes it can; taking into account college finals…)

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