I received 5 of the Japanese import Blu-rays of the newly released Godzilla movies this week and watched them over the past few evenings. As I'm really primarily a fan of the 50's and 60's films, that's what I concentrated on this round which along with the previously released BDs from Japan a couple years ago, now rounds out my BD series collection up to "Destroy All Monsters."
Anyone familiar with Toho's region 2 Japanese DVD releases form over a decade ago will find few surprises in these Blu-ray releases. They all port over most of the extras and audio commentaries as well as the various 2001 - 2003 5.1 "remixed" audio tracks with movies like KK vs G and GRA including music and sound effects only audio track options. Like the older DVDs, the transfers run from "OK" to pretty good when you get into the mid 60's films.
The only real shocker is how bad the transfer is for "King Kong vs Godzilla." It uses the same digitally reconstructed source that's been used for all vhs, laserdisc and dvd releases (in Japan) since 1984 which was incredibly dodgy to begin with, but Toho went back and did some terrible contrast boosting, edge enhancement, color re-timing, etc for the HD release that results in the new BD looking awful. There's some instances where there's more detail visible in the image, but then there's horrible color timing that results in the image looking like a old 8mm brown sepia-toned home movie (the scene where Godzilla and Kong start battling on Mt Fuji). As several film sources were used to originally cobble together this uncut print in the mid 80's including a well worn 16mm rental, colors, contrast, detail etc shift wildly from scene to scene, sometimes in the *middle* of a shot. Many scenes sport massive halo'ing and ringing due to the contrast being pushed so high... it's a hot mess.
I rate the overall image/transfer quality as such 1 to 5, 5 being best:
Godzilla Raids Again - 3.0 (good print, a bit light without solid black levels)
King Kong vs Godzilla - 1.0 (terrible print, amateurish, dated and heavy-handed digital tinkering, upscaled vhs tape quality in places)
Invasion of the Astro Monsters - 4.0 (solid print and transfer, a little rough around the edges)
Son Of Godzilla - 4.0 (same as IOTAM, but a better shot film resulting in a tad nicer, sharper print)
Destroy All Monsters - 4.5 (very good print and transfer, better than US Media Blasters BD release)