This article deals exclusively with the 2009 Kadokawa Blu-ray release of Gamera vs. Gyaos (大怪獣空中戦 ガメラ対ギャオス / Daikaiju Kuchusen: Gamera tai Gyaosu). For coverage of the film itself, and the domestic Shout! Factory DVD, click here. Gamera vs. Gyaos is available both as a standalone and in a four-film Show Gamera boxed set from Amazon.co.jp.
disc: All Region / single layer BD25
video: 1080i / 2.37:1 / color
Mpeg-4 AVC / 32.3 Mbps
audio: 16-bit LPCM 2.0 mono Japanese
supplements: theatrical trailer
And slowly but surely, we make our way deeper into Kadokawa’s high-price Gamera Blu-ray boxed sets from 2009. After two of these I already feel a bit like a broken record, so I’ll be keeping this article even shorter than usual. Those who have read our coverage of Gamera and Gamera vs. Barugon know what to expect here – a Blu-ray sourced from the same HD master used by Shout! Factory for their domestic DVDs, with no English-friendly language options and only a trailer as an extra. Gamera vs. Gyaos isn’t just my favorite of the Showa Gamera series, but my favorite of all the Gamera films and one of my favorite giant monster movies, period. This disc won’t be to everyone’s taste, but yeah, I had to have it.
Image-wise the comparison below pretty well covers it all. Color, contrast and detail all tighten up well in comparison to the SD equivalent, though the picture can look a bit thin and over-yellow in places. All of the other Kadokawa Gamera HD masters have been artificially sharpened, including the ’90s films, and Gamera vs. Gyaos is no exception. Grain is course and angular, an issue no doubt exacerbated by the edge enhancement, and lends the image a gritty quality in motion. There is no window-boxing this go around (or for any of the subsequent films, thankfully), and though presented in 1080i the tech specs are certainly robust – the feature is Mpeg-4 AVC-encoded at a high average bitrate of 32.3 Mbps. The film sounds much as it has in the past, though perhaps a touch less muffled by virtue of an uncompressed LPCM encode. The old-school monophonic mix isn’t going to impress anyone, but it remains faithful to the intentions of the original production, and that’s just fine by me. There are no subtitles, English, Japanese, or otherwise.
DVD left, Blu-ray right. DVD shots were captured as lossless .png in VLC from the Shout! Factory DVD, scaled to 1920×1080 for ease of comparison and compressed to .jpg at a quality setting of 97% in Gimp. Click each to view full size.
What else is there to say, really? Gamera vs. Gyaos looks and plays better on Blu-ray from Kadokawa than it does in its domestic DVD equivalent, but it still has its problems, and with a retail price of ¥4,935 (more than $60 USD) it’ll be a very tough sell for most. Recommended for crazies like myself whose lives just won’t be complete until they’ve owned the Gamera films on every format imaginable. For the rest, just sit back and enjoy the pretty pictures.