This is my favorite G-film behind the original.
I always wondered, even as a kid, what would happen if a giant monster hit a city. This movie answers it. I find it totally captivating as politicians, some of the self-righteous or just worried for themselves, battle it out over the situation. You can see the pressure in the Prime Minister's face when discussing the nukes and their use. He's so firm with his speech afterwards (Japanese version).
I love Hayashida too. He has this quiet vengeance about him, where as he understands why the creature exists, but also has this deep down resentment. He's conflicted, maybe even a little confused as to what he wants, but knows what he must do.
Then, Godzilla. Reading over the thread, the lumbering qualities are honestly what make it work. Godzilla has his spark and his reasons laid out. He wants food. I can't think of any scene, from any giant monster movie, with as much impact as that Tokyo Bay assault. He stands there, stares them down, and just unloads on everything. In the ultimate defiance, he also seems joyful over what he just did, metaphorically raising a giant middle finger to anyone and everyone in his way.
Comparisons the original aren't entirely fair, Japan of course wildly changing as the years passed. It's not likely it would be possible to devastate the city in the same way. Godzilla only destroys here to get what he wants or satisfy a curiosity. "He's looking for something, searching" sums up Godzilla's actions so well. He's a confused, disoriented animal, and I LOVE THAT. It just feels so real sometimes, except for those freakin' eyes. Ugh.
Does it have flaws? Yeah, sure. The opening attack on the boat confused the hell out of me as a kid. I had no idea what that creature was thanks to the US version, and they cut the right shots in the translation. The scene still doesn't work all that well. A scene or two could be dropped, and opening up the volcano so early is a mistake I'll never understand.
But the birds? Makes perfect sense to me. It's an animal, its instinct, it's exploited. It's not random or anything, at least no way that I can see it. It follows with everything the movie is saying and doing.