I'm glad, at least, that awareness of Toho's ridiculous mandates has risen to the surface, and that Criterion isn't the fall guy this time like ADV, Sony and Classic Media all were. Criterion isn't getting roasted, Toho is, and that makes me happy. Something happened during the Media Blasters debacle, and continued throughout the wave of Echo Bridge and Kraken releases - a revolution in which more and more fans have become aware of Toho's awful management and bureaucracy.
Everyone knows Criterion, especially, would have done a bang-up job if they had any freedom. They would have been more than capable - even more than Classic Media - of restoring the poorly preserved US versions to modern standards. Their near immaculate restoration of GKOTM set a precedent for what could have been. This isn't restoration that any fan is capable of. All I thought I could reasonably look forward to with a set like this was restorations of the former Classic Media-owned US versions... I wasn't even expecting new transfers of the Japanese versions, or even the long-suppressed (for no good reason) AIP dubs of Destroy All Monsters and Smog Monster. Any extras would have just been added icing, and the quality of the packaging art is never something I consider when buying stuff on video.
This set might be significant as the first collection of all 15 original films stateside, but it's also significant as a sort of symbolic funeral march for virtually all of the US versions. What it lacks sends just as strong of a message as what it does contain, and it sets a depressing precedent for the future of all Toho kaiju films' US versions on video and streaming. The bar feels lower than it has ever been. The inclusion of brand new transfers of US versions of Euro trash on Blu-Ray isn't an unthinkable luxury, far from it, but for Toho genre films, it is. Whether you like them or not, these versions are important artifacts, and Toho wants to pretend they don't exist, which is immoral, cowardly, fundamentally revisionist, and simply a really poor business decision. Some of these versions contain unique footage shot in Toho's own studios, but they don't care.
The true potential for these films on video continues to be eroded each year by the studio that owns them. Meanwhile, you can buy a Blu-Ray containing Hercules in the Haunted World containing new transfers of the Italian, UK, and US versions. Shame on you, Toho. It is the twilight of home video, and a long belated genre film renaissance is occurring that you refuse to let your films join, or even the US versions of your films. Shame on you, cowards.