DVD Title
 Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
International Title
 Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Movie Length: 98 minutes Original Length: 96 minutes
Company: ADV Films Release: 2003
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic: No
Region: 1 Discs: 1
Language/Sound: Order
Japanese (2.0 Stereo), English (2.0 Stereo)
· Menus (English)
· Chapters (8)
· Trailers: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (Teaser, 2 Theatrical, 6 TV Spots), Gamera: Attack of Legion (ADV), Farscape (ADV), Princess Blade (ADV), Noir (ADV), Rahxephon (ADV), Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda (ADV)
· Interview with special effects director Shinji Higuchi (31 Minutes) [Part 1/3]
· Press Conference Footage (5 Minutes)
· Behind the Scenes (4 Minutes)
· Footage from Yabari International Fantastic Adventure Film Festival (6 Minutes)
· Opening Night Footage (3 Minutes)
Anthony Romero

ADV's release of Shusuke Kaneko's first foray into the Gamera universe is fantastic in some ways and down right poor in others. The problem, and not surprisingly given the company's track record, comes from the video track on this DVD, which is severally lacking. Thankfully, the audio and supplemental content fare much better, with the latter offering a wide array of content for viewers to look over.

 Video: Star Rating

When it comes to the video quality found on this disc, ADV dropped the ball, and they dropped it hard. So many things were done poorly with the video transfer here that it's hard to know where to start. Right off the bat, it's apparent that the company opted not to do an anamorphic transfer for the disc, leaving those with a widescreen TV out in the cold while also adding in a lot of unneeded compression. Speaking of, the digital inconsistencies present are very overt, including noticeable pixilation during the darker scenes and also signs of shimmering, a distortion of fine details that give off a ban of multiple colors. The video track also doesn't look nearly as sharp as it should, and also has an almost "patchwork" like texture to it, adding to the level of noise present. The print used for the transfer is also the same heavily altered one found on the firm's VHS release, which means ADV's own title screen for Gamera: Guardian of the Universe is present along with the rather ugly black boxes with green text placed inside them to cover up the Japanese text during the movie. On the plus side, at least the colors, on a rare occasion, can be distinct. Vivid would be too strong a word, but they still impress ever so often. Unfortunately, the levels in general are not set to the most ideal ranges, as the final battle in Tokyo looks slightly washed out thanks to the degree of brightness present.


Thankfully, the firm does a much better job with the audio presentation on this disc compared to the video quality. The movie is featured with its original Japanese language track as well as the English dubbed version, the same one seen on ADV's VHS release. Both are presented pretty well in two channel stereo, featuring adequate speaker distinction. A few will probably be disappointed, though, that the surround track present on the region 2 release was not included in this package.

The audio can be accompanied by, removable, English subtitles.


In a surprise move, ADV really delivers with this DVD when it comes to the supplemental content. In fact there are a huge number, that include: trailers, an interview with special effects director Shinji Higuchi (part one of a three), the press event, behind the scenes material, footage from the Yabari International Fantastic Adventure Film Festival and a look at the movie's opening night. Surprisingly, the video quality on the extras is actually better than the movie itself, with almost no noticeable artifacting. This can probably be credited to the fact that they were lifted from the region 2 disc, and were not mastered by ADV themselves, like the video track included for the movie. Overall, there is a wealth of material present for people interested in learning more about the series.


Bottom line, this disc seems older than it is thanks to ADV's efforts here, or lack there of in some areas. They certainly don't present themselves as a company that is able to handle how to properly deal with the hurdles introduced in a digital format. Regardless, the audio and extra presentation are nice enough that this certainly isn't a bad DVD, although the video track is sure to leave one hoping for an improved offering in the future.

On a side note, I have been told that when this disc was reissued with the "collector's box" the DVD itself was also modified, removing the black boxes with green text and other aspects of ADV's version. Not owning the disc myself, though, I can't directly comment on how that release compares to their first for the film.