Finally got the see the Japanese version thanks to the Criterion release. Such a shame it's shoved aside on the bonus disc, in the middle of all the other extras, it's not treated as a main feature at all. The visual quality is also noticeably inconsistent, some scenes look decent, others are really rough. At least the subtitles are as good as they could possibly be, I guess.
Grew up with the US release so it was definitely a little jarring, in a good way I mean. I couldn't help but feel it had a more small scale, domestic feel to it. The humor is a lot more evident, of course. It was interesting to see how things were originally meant to link up, and elements people normally poke holes at in the US cut were made a lot clearer. There's a simple logic to the film that is very endearing, more so than other Honda/Tsuburaya films, it's definitely aware of what it's supposed to be - a charming, celebratory goodtime.
I know Honda had misgivings about Godzilla's behavior, he's perhaps a bit too jovial and 'human' at times, but still a big, mean, destructive bully. And then we have Toho Kong, the lovable drunk ogre he is.
There's some stuff that still bothers me, some just from the time period (handing out cigarettes to the natives, using a real octopus [and to add insult to injury, eating him afterwards]), but something that really struck me was the lack of a real strong female character you normally see in these films, usually as the film's moral compass. There's no Emiko, Junko/Naoko, or Miss Namikawa. Even Raids Again had the two radio girls. You're just kinda stuck with the bumbling male characters. Maybe that's a silly nitpick but it jumped out to me compared to the others.
Exterminate all rational thought.