Gamera Vs. Jiger ~ 1970, Noriaki Yuasa, Japan
Worry not, ravenous Kaiju philes, Japan’s second most popular gigantic reptilian monster hero is back after like, several months, with a brand new beast busting blockbuster! Yes, Gamera is back, but does he have moves like Jiger? The answer is no, no he does not- nobody does, because like all of Gamera’s foes, Jiger is nonsense incarnate. This is basically a win, though, because after studying how freaking bizarre Gamera’s rogue gallery has been up to this point, it would be truly jarring to see him on screen with anything that made sense.
THE PLOT~ The people of Earth are throwing a World Expo (basically a mixture of the World’s Fair and Disney’s Epcot Center) in Japan to celebrate peace and unity for all of mankind. First on their list of preparations? Actively disgracing precious African cultural sites for their own amusement and giving zero fuck’s about it. Peace and unity for the win! You see, there’s this giant, ancient stone monolith embedded in the Earth somewhere in Africa called The Devil’s Whistle. This is one impressive whistle, so the world expo people are like “hey… We kinda want that. That thing is neat.” Next thing you know, they got a horrified African dignitary is in their offices, pleading with them to let the whistle stay where it is. He makes an impassioned, reasonable, case for the whistle staying put, and in actuality, he has basic human decency on his side, and Japan is in the wrong to remove the whistle, which is plain to see. Unfortunately, he’s also black, so Japan doesn’t fucking care. They take the whistle anyway, and wouldn’t you know it, that turns out to be a bad idea. You see, apparently the whistle wasn’t for decoration, it also functioned as a means of imprisoning Jiger, an ancient, weird dinosaur thing. Now that the whistle is gone, Jiger is fucking shit up, and things look bleak for humanity.
Until Gamera shows up. I shouldn’t really have to drag you through the plot here, if you’ve seen one, you’ve kinda seen ’em all, but I’ll sum up the particulars. Apparently, Jiger is vulnerable to sound, and is also a female, so that’s fun. She uses her weird rocket horns to lay her monster eggs inside Gamera’s freaking heart, which basically puts him into a near death, unresponsive state for a large chunk of the film. In hopes of rescuing everybody’s favorite whirling turtle beast, two young boys called Hiroshi and Tommy, hijack a submarine (this feels familiar) and pilot it into the open mouth of the now catatonic Gamera on a mission to reach his heart. When Hiroshi and Tommy discover a baby Jiger living tucked away inside Gamera’s freaking guts, they damn kill it, with a Walky talky. Now THAT is awesome. I wanted walky talkies super bad when I was a kid, and I was totally unaware that they could be used to murder monsters. Walky talkies just keep getting better and better! There’s also a point at which Gamera rams telephone poles into his ear canals to block out the noise of some Anti-Jiger Noise weapons the Japanese cooked up, and I greatly enjoy that, too.
It’s hard to say if Gamera Vs Jiger is an improvement over the big guy’s last few adventures or not. Gamera Vs. Guiron strayed a little far from the formula and felt scaled down from earlier outings, and Gamera Vs Viras upped the ante on how much it was willing to pander to children while also filling out it’s run time with an inexcusably generous use of recycled footage. Gamera Vs. Jiger doesn’t repeat any of those mistakes, except for some mild child pandering, and it feels much closer to Gamera Vs Gyaos than we’ve seen in some time, so that’s all good. It doesn’t stack up well against the second and third Gamera films when quality is concerned, though. By this point, Gamera felt cheap and uninspired. Gamera Vs Jiger is okay if you’re happy with more of the same, but just don’t expect it to knock your socks off. I hate to say it, but Gamera’s once promising uphill trend was a long forgotten thing by this point in his franchise. He’s just phoning it in.
Worth bringing up, Gamera is well known for his bizarre and suspiciously unconditional love of children…
…But Tommy and Hiroshi are looking a little old in this one. They’re in the early stages of puberty, and these poor bastards have no idea that they’re just probably just one awkward year away from Gamera suddenly giving zero shits about them. Yeah, you just stole a mini-sub and sailed it into the tusked maw of a radioactive guardian monster to save his life, but he’s “friend to all children,” not “pal to all tweens.” Pretty soon, he’s just gonna stop taking your calls. Go ask Corey Feldman, he’s been there.