Arrow Video keeps being a shining beacon of light in a world where companies are planning to stop making physical media all together, so they can hold properties hostage on another streaming service with no guarantee film and series will always be there, or there in a matter of months, for that matter.
This time they bring us a collection that will make kaiju fans furiously ejaculate, and for good reason, as there wasn’t any complete collection of the beloved Gamera series, there were some boxsets for the North American market, but nothing complete, and here in Europe TM we got it far worse, Italy especially, as they brought only 5 five of the Showa Era, often calling Gamera “The Great King” and retitling the movies to imply it’s Godzilla or King Kong, with craptacular marquee artworks to boot.
But now it’s all good again, as this boxset (which i preordered as soon as i saw it) is shipping worlwide, and it’s all english… but it’s also a limited release, so i’m just gonna say this to interested fans: stop reading, and get it RIGHT NOW, this is pricey and there aren’t gonna be that many copies around, so just go. Definitely worth the price, it’s not cheap, at all, but it’s worth every single cent.
First, it’s frigging huge (as the infamous, memetic t-shirt from that anime about the shortshack lady would say), i was honestly surprised. It’s even bigger than the recent Criterion Godzilla Showa Era Collection, not as tall, but definitely even more packed with lots of stuff. Cool cover art, to boot.
About the movies themselves, this boxset includes all 12 official Gamera movies (so obviously no Gamera 4: The Truth, impressive, but a fan film not endorsed in any official way) on 8 Blu-Ray discs, laid out in the same “bookhole” fashion as the aforementioned Criterion Godzilla Collection, so they definitely stay put, but are a bit harder than they should to get out of their sleeves. Amazing illustrations adorning the bookcase holding the discs, anyway.
All movies are HD transfers in 1080p, no 4K, but nobody would reasonably expect it, and of top of offering all original japanese versions with english subtitles, there are also a lot of english dub tracks, even the old American International dubs from back in the day. They even included the american cuts for Gamera The Giant Monster (retitled and re-edited with extra footage as Gammera The Invincible) and Gamera VS Barugon (retitled and cut down as War Of The Monsters) , but inside of the discs you will find plenty of extras to dig through, with trailers, archive interview with film historian, directors, actors, backstage footage, supercuts for special effects or action scenes, commentaries (both informative and comedic), outtakes, deleted scenes, retrospective, detailed introduction to each single movie,
Just the Blu-Ray discs themselves are beyond packed with what it’s indeed a plethora of material, that they would be worth the price already, and it’s a great combination of archive footage and new featurettes, introductions and related material (like the Kaiju DNA Exhibit showing off a lot of incredibly preserved props from the Heisei Gamera Trilogy) done just for this collection, it’s just… kaiju heaven. Pure geeky cinema bliss.
There are collectors cards with new artworks, but also a big ass 130 pages casebound reprint of the Gamera comics by Dark Horse, complete with the prequel chapter, never officially translated and printed before. Insanely cool, especially if you live outside of North America, because sure as hell they didn’t brough these ones and translated in my mother tongue back then.
That would be quite enough, but the final treat is a 80 pages book containing a complete retrospective of the series by critic Patrick Marcias, a huge interview with series creator Noriaki Yuasa by David Milner (with good quality photos from the series choosen, as well), x-ray illustrations of the kaijus in the series by Jolyon Yates, even Fangoria set-reports from the Heisei Trilogy by Norman England, and for closure, a guide to the english-dubbed versions of the movies, like Gammera The Invincible, the american version of the first movie in the series, Gamera The Giant Monster.
All pretty informative and well written.
My only nitpick is that is just about english-dubbed versions, as there are some trivia to be told about the german and italian versions (and probably even more, as back in the day each country kinda did something to market these movies), but i guess you gotta stop somewhere, and it’s a petty nitpick. It really is. But they did managed to fit the German trailer for Gamera VS Jiger in there (where they hilarious call the enemy kaiju “Jiggar”), which i did not expect at all, and from that you can see an example of the german trend of saying it was another monster/demon made by Frankenstein in order to market these foreign monster movies.
To completely seal the deal, there’s even a Gamera’s Map Of Japan.
Definitely lives up to the name, this is indeed worthy of being called “The Complete Collection”, simply essential for any movie buffs and kaiju fan, regardless if you were familiar with the series before or not, in the latter case this has everything official.
And to re-iterate, it’s not cheap, but it’s worth every single cent.
No regrets, whatshowever.