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Noriaki Yuasa
Kôji Fujiyama, Daigo Inoue, Reiko Kasahara
Writing Credits:
Fumi Takahashi

Space aliens arrive on Earth with their giant shark and intend to take over the planet but they must first destroy Gamera.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Japanese DTS-HD MA Monaural
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $179.95
Release Date: 8/18/2020
Available Only As Part of 12-Movie “Gamera Complete Collection”

• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Sean Rhoads and Brooke McCorkle
• Introduction by Film Historian August Ragone
• Alternate English Credits
• Trailers
• Image Gallery


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Gamera vs. Zigra [Blu-Ray] (1971)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 11, 2020)

After a run of seven movies in seven years that started in 1965, 1971’s Gamera vs. Zigra appeared to conclude the franchise. Our favorite giant turtle would lie dormant for nine years, until he returned for 1980’s Gamera: Super Monster, a disaster that really killed the series – until a 1995 reboot, at least.

Both of those will act as the subjects of future reviews. For the time being, we’ll look at Zigra, the flick that appeared to finish off Gamera.

Alien entity Zigra abruptly destroys a moon base and then winds up with its spaceship submerged in the waters off Japan. Young Kenichi Ishikawa (Yasushi Sakagami), his pal Helen Wallace (Gloria Zoellner) and their fathers Dr. Yosuke Ishikawa (Isamu Saeki) and Dr. Tom Wallace (Koji Fujiyama) investigate.

This doesn’t go well, as the Zigran emissary (Eiko Yanami) abducts them and instructs them to warn the Earth of her immense powers. When the adults protest, she places them in a state of suspended animation.

Zigra lives in the water, so it wants to enslave Earth and use humans as a food supply. However, super-powered giant turtle Gamera responds to the pleas of the children and comes to do battle to save the day, as he opposes Zigra, who turns out to be a shark-like monster.

Spoiler alert? Of course not, as we know that’s how these movies work. Even without the conflict implied in the title, this still becomes a story with a predictable arc.

Zigra feels even more trite than normal, though, because it recycles so much from the prior six films. We already got alien abductions in both Viras and Guiron, so a third movie with that theme out of the last four becomes downright tedious.

Much of the plot makes no sense as well. Zigra pushes an anti-pollution message hard, and while I appreciate that concept, the way it uses this seems ham-fisted.

In addition, the flick tailors its plot to suit the theme, a factor that ensures the story seems even less organic. We get a cart before the horse situation here, as the desire to educate about environmental matters overwhelms the narrative and action.

Not that the plot really shows much potential anyway. As noted, it self-plagiarizes earlier films, and much of it makes little sense.

Whereas Jiger acted as an ad for Expo ’70, Zigra often seems to exist to promote a Japanese branch of Sea World. At least it provides a more positive view of that franchise than 1983’s Jaws 3, where the message seemed to be “come to Sea World, where a shark might eat you!”

As I’ve discussed, the Gamera franchise actively courted the character’s reputation as “Friend to All Children” as early as the third film, and later movies pushed that angle harder and harder. Zigra escalates this topic even more due to the casting of its young protagonists.

In the last few flicks, the kids seemed to be around 11 or 12, but Kenichi and Helen can’t be more than six or seven. This feels like a conscious attempt to generate ever-younger viewers, though I suspect the choice to go in that direction probably alienated older children.

Even the monster action comes up short here. We barely see Gamera until more than half the movie’s running time, and we don’t find any kind of real conflict until about 50 minutes into the story. Zigra looks like an amalgam of earlier creatures, and it doesn’t create a particularly interesting threat due to the “been there, done that” factor.

Zigra lacks punch to the monster fights. The movie seems determined to avoid these as much as possible, and we even find ourselves stuck with a long scene in which Gamera tiptoes around a snoozing Zigra to avoid detection.

Yeah, he does this to rescue a stranded submarine, but it still becomes unintentionally funny and a sign of the film’s absence of power. In addition, what should turn into the movie’s climactic battle actually features Gamera’s use of Zigra as a xylophone, and then he does a soft-shoe routine.


Effects feel shoddier than usual. When we “see” the destruction of Tokyo, it’s via TV images that clearly show sketch art.

The monster effects of Jiger worked surprisingly well, but those of Zigra regress. One might expect them to seem pretty good because the movie avoids these shots so much of the time – with so few creature elements on display, the filmmakers had more time to devote to them.

I assume Ziger comes with so few monster battles to save money, and the caliber of effects echoes that sentiment. Even by 1970s Japanese fantasy standards, the visuals feel cheap.

Well, at least Yanami offers a sexy spacebabe, and she spends a decent amount of screentime in a bikini, so that counts for something. Otherwise, this becomes a messy, dull stab at monster action.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C-/ Bonus C+

Gamera vs. Zigra appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not as attractive as its immediate predecessor, Zigra looked fine.

As usual, sharpness seemed fairly good. Occasional soft spots emerged – mainly in wider elements or effects materials – but most of the flick brought appealing delineation.

Neither jaggies nor moiré effects created concerns, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt natural, and outside of a few small specks, print flaws remained absent.

Colors felt relatively natural. They didn’t leap off the screen, but they replicated the source in an effective manner.

Blacks felt deep and dense, while low-light shots displayed more than adequate delineation. This became a satisfactory presentation.

Though not terrible for its era, the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack seemed weaker than its recent predecessors, mainly due to speech. The movie’s dialogue suffered from much more bad looping than usual, and these lines tended to sound stiff and artificial. The dialogue became a distraction.

Otherwise, this felt like a wholly mediocre mix. Music showed passable range, while effects seemed adequate but without much dimensionality. After some relatively good audio for the last few flicks, Zigra came with a disappointing soundtrack.

As always, we open with an Introduction from Film Historian August Ragone. In this eight-minute, 23-second chat, Ragone tells us about aspects of the production and issues that resulted in the franchise’s discontinuation. Ragone knows his stuff and makes this another solid reel.

Up next, we find an audio commentary from film historians Sean Rhoads and Brooke McCorkle. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at the genre, cast/crew and production areas.

The authors of Japan's Green Monsters: Environmental Commentary in Kaiju Cinema, that book’s topic pops up occasionally during the track, though more in a semi-lecturing way about the importance of environmental concerns. While I agree with their beliefs, we get nagged more than informed.

Those elements don’t pop up too much during the commentary, but unfortunately, Rhoads and McCorkle don’t compensate with a lot of pertinent insights. Although they give us decent facts about the shoot, this becomes more of an “informative appreciation” than a true film historian discussion.

By that I mean McCorkle and Rhoads mainly tell us how much they like aspects of the movie, and they toss in film-related notes sporadically along the way. After the absolutely worthless commentary alongside Jigra, this one fares better, but it nonetheless becomes the second-worst of the tracks for the first seven Gamera movies, and it doesn’t offer a lot of informational value.

Standard Gamera extras flesh out the disc, and Alternate English Credits go for three minutes, 15 seconds. As usual, these seem pretty forgettable, though they’re good to have for archival reasons.

We get a Japanese trailer, a US video promo and an Image Gallery. It delivers 92 stills that mix publicity elements, ads, art and photos from the set. This becomes a solid compilation.

Perhaps the franchise would’ve entered hibernation no matter what after 1971’s Gamera vs. Zigra, as maybe viewers just tired of the character. However, the poor quality of this slipshod, boring monster flick didn’t help. The Blu-ray comes with generally good picture, lackluster audio and a set of supplements with a blah commentary. Zigra winds up as one of the series’ weakest entries.

Note that as of August 2020, this Blu-ray version of Zigra only appears as part of a “Gamera Complete Collection”. This packages 12 Gamera adventures.

The “Complete Collection” also features a 120-page reproduction of a 1996 Gamera comic book and an 80-page retrospective book. My review copy didn’t include these components so I can’t formally discuss them.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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