Iris (Japanese: イリス), is an ancient, demonic Gyaos-based kaiju and the primary antagonist of the film Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris.
It was portrayed by suit actor Akira Ohashi in its adult form, and by practical effects and CGI in its previous younger form.
During its days as an infant, Iris is extremely docile and affectionate towards Ayana Hirasaka, allowing her to raise it like a pet. As it grows, however, the creature becomes more aggressive, actively killing small animals and later countless human beings in order to feed on their life force despite maintaining its loyalty towards Ayana. It's never revealed whether Iris was born as a malevolent entity and was simply using Ayana to increase its own power either, let alone if it was created as a benevolent guardian and corrupted and twisted by Ayana's hatred. However, the possibility lies to the latter: In addition to theory stemmed from similarities with Gamera (namely their Atlantean bead which acts as telepathic medium to their human partners), among its victims were various people who antagonized and tormented Ayana. Also, as a result of fueled by Ayana's hatred towards Gamera, Iris becomes hellbent in destroying the Guardian Turtle with extreme prejudice. The same hatred was what arguably led to Iris become a twisted being that eventually turned against its human partner where it showed a lack of hesitation in attacking her friend Tatsunori Moribe against her wishes and forcibly absorbs her into its chest, showing her visions of it killing her adoptive family. In either way, the creature's true intentions are unknown.
Iris has unknown origins, though several theories are proposed in the film. The villagers who live in a village in the Nara Prefecture of Japan believe that Iris is an ancient demon known as the Ryu-Sei-Cho, that if awakened will bring about the end of the world. In contrast, the mythology that the Ryu-Sei-Cho name comes from suggests that the being is the mythical "Guardian of the South," who will defend against a threat from the North. A tortoise (hinted to be Gamera) is said to be Guardian of the North and suggested to be a rival to the Guardian of the South. Genetic analysis of Iris' chromosomes revealed that it was genetically identical to the Gyaos, only with the ability to alter its DNA, leading to the theory that Iris is, in fact, a mutated or fully-evolved Gyaos. Kurata Shinya, a video game programmer who closely studied Gamera, Gyaos, and the Atlantean civilization, came to the conclusion that Iris was designed as a fail-safe measure by the Atlanteans to kill Gamera if he ever became too powerful and went out of control or no longer served the planet's best interest. He theorizes it will permanently merge with Ayana to gain power, similar to how Gamera bonded with Asagi but to a greater degree so it can overpower the guardian, assuring the extinction of mankind at the hands of the Gyaos.
Kurata's belief fits in with what is shown of Iris and its actions: it is specifically awoken by the Gamera-hating Ayana, who lifts a stone it is stated a sumo wrestler couldn't move. Like Gamera, it has an Atlantean amulet that links it to a human (effectively making it the anti-Gamera). Asukara, who claims to be an Atlantean descendant, holds a long-running religious belief that Iris will protect Earth from destruction by Gamera. After Iris is destroyed and Gamera is wounded, Gyaos flock towards Japan as if they know they left them an opening.
Gamera vs. Barugon manga published in 2002 however, gives a more plausible origin of the creature: Iris was the first attempt by the Atlanteans to fight the Gyaos, and was genetically engineered using Gyaos' DNA (explaining why the two has identical genetic code). However, Iris was discarded in favor of Gamera and sealed away.
Whatever the case, Iris' stone egg was sealed within a shrine in a village thousands of years ago and guarded over by the Moribe family line. Over the centuries, many tried to remove Iris' egg from the shrine, but were all unable to lift it.
A young girl named Ayana Hirasaka, who blamed Gamera for the deaths of her parents during the monster's battle with Gyaos in Tokyo in 1995, was dared by a group of bullying classmates to enter the Ryuseicho's shrine and remove the egg. Ayana agreed, so long as they would stop bullying her brother, and then entered the shrine, discovering the egg with a small black bead. Tatsunari Moribe, the latest son of the Moribe line, found Ayana in the shrine, and saw that she had somehow managed to move the egg. Moribe told Ayana to put the egg back and stay out of the shrine. Moribe explained to Ayana the legend of the Ryuseicho and the danger of awakening it.
Ayana later returned to the shrine and discovered that the stone egg had split open and was now empty. She looked around the shrine in panic and discovered a strange tentacled snail-like creature cowering in a corner. Ayana felt a strange bond with the creature, and decided to raise it. Naming it "Iris" after her dead cat, Ayana vowed to raise Iris to take revenge for her by killing Gamera. After being appointed guardian of the shrine by his grandmother, Moribe returned there with a sacred dagger, intending to seal the Ryuseicho in case the moving of its egg had awakened it. There, he discovered Iris and Ayana, who informed him of her plan. Moribe reluctantly decided to allow Ayana to raise Iris. Ayana tried to feed Iris with canned meat, but discovered it had no mouth. Instead, Iris stabbed the can with a spike on one of its tentacles and drained the meat from it through its tentacle.
Fusing with Ayana
Over the next several days, Iris began to grow in size and strength, and while Ayana was away it escaped from the shrine and entered a nearby forest, where it drained the life force of various local wildlife. When she saw that Iris was no longer in the shrine, Ayana panicked and ran to the forest, calling for Iris. She found Iris on the ground and embraced it, promising to never abandon it. Iris then began to change, as spiky protrusions grew on its shoulders and its tentacles extended. Iris floated in the air and held out its tentacles to Ayana. Ayana hesitated, then offered herself to Iris. Iris wrapped its tentacles around Ayana and brought her back to the shrine, where it encased her in a cocoon-like sac attached to its body. Iris began to merge itself with Ayana, drawing power from her and further altering its genetic structure. Moribe found Iris fusing with Ayana in the shrine, and used his sacred dagger to cut Ayana free.
Escape and Rampage
Ayana was taken to a hospital, leaving Iris alone in the shrine. Filled with rage and desiring to reunite with Ayana, Iris escaped from the shrine once again and attacked the village, brutally murdering the various inhabitants, including Ayana's adoptive family. Iris killed dozens of villagers, particularly ones that tormented Ayana. After absorbing the life force of its victims, Iris grew and evolved even more, growing into a gigantic 99-meter-tall bipedal monster. Iris took refuge in the woods, preying upon any victims unfortunate enough to pass by it.
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces responded to the attack on the village, and tracked Iris to the nearby forest. While the creature was sleeping, the J.S.D.F. attempted to destroy it with artillery shells. All this did was enrage Iris, who easily wiped out the entire platoon. Iris then opened membranes between its tentacles and, using them as wings, took flight and tried to find Ayana.
Battle with Gamera
Iris sensed that Ayana was taken to Kyoto, and began to fly there. En route, Iris was intercepted by the air force, which attempted to shoot it down. Iris easily outmaneuvered the J.S.D.F.'s jets and continued to Kyoto. Suddenly, Gamera appeared in the skies to challenge Iris. Iris blasted Gamera with sonic beams fired from its tentacles, while the air force decided to focus its attacks on Gamera, who it deemed the bigger threat. With Gamera distracted by the air force, Iris touched down in the heart of Kyoto, searching for Ayana. Ayana sensed Iris was nearby from the Kyoto train station and called out to him.
Gamera evaded the air force and flew to Kyoto to stop Iris. Gamera blasted Iris with plasma fireballs, but the creature merely swatted them away with its tentacles, causing them to land elsewhere and set the city on fire. As a hurricane began to strike Kyoto, Gamera finally landed and prepared to do battle with Iris. Ayana commanded Iris to kill Gamera, and the monster began to mercilessly attack him. The two monsters fought viciously across the city, destroying everything in their path. Iris stabbed through Gamera's shell with spears on its arms, seriously injuring him. Iris and Gamera then tackled each other into the train station, where Ayana was waiting. Iris brutally gored Gamera with its spear arms, and left the monster unconscious on the ground.
Second attempt to fuse with Ayana, and Death
With Gamera down for the count, Iris approached Ayana, intent on finishing his fusion with her. Moribe arrived and tried to stop Iris from fusing with Ayana, and tossed the sacred dagger at Iris, which harmlessly bounced off of it. Moribe ran to Ayana, and begged her to stop this. Moribe confessed that he had romantic feelings for Ayana, and his pleas finally reached her. Iris, enraged at Moribe's interference, swatted him aside and forcefully absorbed Ayana into a chamber on its stomach. While inside of Iris, Ayana witnessed all of the murders Iris had committed and realized they were because of her anger. Ayana then saw a flashback to the day of her parents' deaths, but saw that it was not Gamera that killed them, but Gyaos whom fighting him. As Ayana struggled inside of Iris, she was suddenly ripped free from the creature. Gamera had punched through Iris and pulled her out.
As Iris screeched in agony, it used its spear hand to impale Gamera's free hand against the wall of the train station. Gamera watched helplessly as Iris drained his energy and began to form plasma fireballs in the tips of its tentacles. With no other options, Gamera blasted off his own hand with a fireball, and held up the bloody stump as Iris blasted Gamera with copies of his own fireballs. When the fireballs struck the stump on Gamera's arm, Gamera used his Mana manipulation powers to form a fiery plasma fist. Gamera then plunged his fist into the open wound on Iris' chest, causing the creature's insides to erupt in flames. Iris emitted a death cry as it exploded, enveloping the city of Kyoto in a fiery explosion. When the smoke cleared, Iris was reduced to a mangled burnt corpse on the ground, which Gamera stomped on triumphantly.
Powers and Abilities
Iris is arguably the most powerful enemy Gamera has ever faced. It can fire the same sonic beam used by the Gyaos from the tips of its tentacles. It can also drain the life force of other creature's by absorbing it through either its tentacles or the spear-like tips on its arms. This drained energy allows Iris to grow even more powerful and even copy his victim's attacks, such as Gamera's plasma fireballs. Iris is capable of flight at mach 9 by using membranes between its tentacles as wings.
Iris' most unique and important ability is its capacity to form a symbiotic bond with a human host, similar to Gamera's bond with Asagi Kusanagi. Like Gamera, Iris has special Atlantean beads that act as the mechanism for his telepathic communication with Ayana. However, unlike Gamera, Iris takes his bond one step further and attempts to merge himself with Ayana. It is unknown what the result of this fusion would be, but it would most likely make Iris even more powerful and potentially unstoppable.
- Shell: On its, back, Irys has a hard carapace similar to a turtle shell that serves as protection.
- Telepathy Brain: Like Gamera, Irys has its own oratorical brain that can be used as medium to telepathically communicate with Ayana, strengthening it.
- Tentacles: Irys had four tentacles that can be used to absorb nutrients from other organisms. They were also used to deflect Gamera's fireballs.
- Tentacle Tips: Each Tentacle is tipped by a bony arrowhead-shaped covering that can open. It can fire the same sonic beam as the Gyaos.
- Wings: Irys can form light-emitting membranes on it tentacles to serve as wings for flight.
- Arms: Irys' arms sport one retractable blade on each, where the blades can easily pierce through Gamera's shell as if it were nothing and can also absorb body fluids like its tentacles.
- DNA Analysis: Irys can analyze the DNA of any creature from the body fluids it absorbs via its arm blades.
- Chromosomal Manipulations: Like the Gyaos and Gamera, Irys can alter its own chromosomes to adapt and evolve to suit its environments. It can also adapt to incorporate any DNA it absorbed.
- Jet Propulsion: Like Gamera, Irys has jet propulsion for flight, using plasma to fly as well as its wings. However, it is more dependent on its plasma than its wings.
- Iris shares its name with a Greek goddess and a type of flower. This is ironic as Iris is a twisted demonic creature, that despite looking innocent and cute as an infant and colorful and beautiful as an adult, is an evil apocalyptic beast.
- Iris is depicted as a dark reflection of Gamera. Iris and Gamera are both ancient guardian creatures created by the Atlanteans, both use special beads to communicate with humans, and both have formed symbiotic relationships with human females. However, while Gamera seeks to defend the Earth from any and all threats, Iris only wants to increase its own power. This relationship is further emphasized by the origin given for Iris in the Gamera vs. Barugon manga, which establishes that Iris was actually Gamera's predecessor, being genetically engineered by the Atlanteans to battle the Gyaos before being discarded in favor of Gamera.
- As the Heisei version of Gamera has been stated by director Shusuke Kaneko to partially be a metaphor for Jesus Christ, Iris can be seen as a representation of the Antichrist. While Gamera is a benevolent being that fights to defend the planet, Iris is a malevolent creature that is said to exist in order to bring about the end of the world. Iris shares many similarities with Gamera and is in many ways a dark reflection of him, but is seen by some, such as Ayana Hirasaka, Kurata Shinya, and Mito Asakura, as a savior whose purpose it is to kill Gamera. In essence, Iris fulfills the role of the Antichrist within the Gamera universe: to initiate the start of the apocalypse, to turn humanity against Gamera by posing as its true savior, and ultimately attempt to destroy Gamera and everything he stands and fights for. In a way, the final battle between Gamera and Iris and the following standoff with Gamera and the human race facing the entire swarm of Gyaos can be seen as a representation of the biblical battle of Armageddon, with the Gyaos representing the Antichrist's army and the Japanese military representing Jesus' (in this case Gamera's) heavenly army.
- Conversely, Iris could be seen as a metaphor for Lucifer himself. Like Lucifer, Iris was initially created as a benevolent guardian, but fell from grace and became an embodiment of evil. Iris' appearance can also be seen as a reflection of this, as Lucifer was said to once be the most beautiful of all angels, and Iris is a colorful and majestic-looking beast despite his evil nature.
- Iris can possibly be considered the most evil villians in the Heisei Gamera trilogy as unlike Gyaos and Leigon who were driven by instinct, Iris was primarily driven by genuine malice intent.