Well, it took 3 1/2 weeks, but i did it: 28 Japanese Godzilla films and 2 American ones. I wasn't able to watch that new one that came out last year, due to it not having a home release just yet, but I was still able to get through the other 30 movies. I had seen the first and last ones before, as well as having a VHS of Godzilla vs Megalon when i was a kid, but most of these were a new experience for me.
So Wikipedia split them into three eras. With the first era, the very first movie is still really great and still holds up well. Even the Americanized version was good, too. It did a great job adapting the story for a different audience while still holding true to the spirit and allegorical message of the original. Unfortunately, the second movie cannot claim the same. The Japanese version of Godzilla Raids Again i felt was mostly pretty boring, with a few decent moments of monster action in the middle. But then the American version of that one was just so bad it was almost offensive; the complete opposite of the first movie. They changed a lot of the backstory, changed the monsters name from Godzilla to Gigantis, had a bunch of pointless narration explaining the obvious in almost every scene, and just about every character sounded like Plant doing an Asian accent whenever we play Splatoon.
Starting with the third movie, the series started sliding more towards the goofy, lighthearted side with Godzilla vs King Kong. I did not care much for vs Kong, but the very next one, Godzilla vs Mothra, turned out to be one of my more favorite movies out of the whole batch. For that matter, i think Mothra is now probably my favorite monster right after the big G, himself. Then there's King Ghidorah, who is probably one of Godzilla's most infamous foes, but to be honest, his first several appearances didn't impress me at all. Despite everyone in the movies saying how dangerous he was, he tended to get his ass beaten ridiculously easily every time. It wasn't until Godzilla vs Gigan that he finally started proving to be formidable and deadly force to be reckoned with. Actually, once the series entered the 70s, i feel like they started getting a bit darker and less goofy in tone, despite still using some goofy plot elements, like aliens and a Captain Planet monster. Ultimately, though, the first era ended with just another movie, as Godzilla fought some random sea monster that sounded strangely similar to Crocomire from Super Metroid. But other then introducing the idea of MechaGodzilla to the franchise, it just came off as just another Godzilla movie, and not a fitting ending to the first era.
Then we get into the second era. It kinda does a hard reboot, ignoring everything but the very first movie. The first one of this era went back to the original idea of Godzilla on his own as a massive force of destruction. Except this time, instead of just being a threat to Japan, the threat was more global as it brought in cold war politics into the mix. It was actually really well done, and i was also impressed that in the Japanese version, they actually had American and Russian actors speaking in their own languages. After that, the next few movies started slowly going back to some sillier plot ideas, like people from the future or a scientist trying to resurrect his dead daughter through a plant monster, while still maintaining a serious tone. Actually, i found that at least four of the movies in the era had people with ESP as a plot device. There actually seemed to be a bit more continuity between these films versus the first era. There were a lot of subplots spread across multiple entries, such as the government building newer weapons, eventually getting to the point where they were making full-blown giant robots. There also was a subplot involving a baby Godzilla growing up across several movies. Unlike the first era, this one ended on a high note. Godzilla's radiating goes overboard, and the big lizard ends up dying in a massive meltdown, while also fighting the Engrish-named Destoroyah, and ending with the baby growing up into the next Godzilla. It was a really great finale.
Then, finally there was the third era. This one was kind of odd, in that almost every movie of this era kept rebooting things, following the first movie and ignoring everything before. It was kinda frustrating. Still, some of the movies still came off alright, but some were really just bleh. The one that really pissed me off the most, though, was Giant Monsters All Out Attack. Not only did it distill the previous allegorical subtext of the older movies down to a more basic "war is bad" argument, where the apparent souls of people who dies during WWII are summoning monsters, but they completely ruined both Mothra and Ghidorah, particularly the latter as they made him a good guy for some reason. Actually, i read online that it was originally supposed to be two other monsters who would've made much more sense, story-wise, but was changed late in the game cuz Mothra and Ghidorah had more marquee value. I really did not like that movie. But luckily, things ended on an amazing note with Godzilla Final Wars. Dear lord, was this an amazing movie! It's actually one of the few that i had already seen before, but this time i was much more able to get all the references it makes to past movies. That movie was just awesome, and much like the second era, the third ended on a massive high note.
Also, in between the second and third eras, i rewatched the first american movie, which still sucks. Then after Final Wars, i rewatched the second american movie. While it was still fun, now that i've seen all the Japanese movies, i found myself noticing a lot of little nitpicky things i never noticed all the previous times i saw it. It actually got me thinking about the sequels they're planning, and the monsters they're gonna be bringing in. In particular, i'm getting concerned about them getting Mothra right. As i said above, Mothra is now my favorite monster after Godzilla, himself. Except Mothra isn't really a monster; she's a god. I really hope the next american movie retains the whole guardian deity of a small island backstory. I also hope they can find someway of working the twin fairies into it.
Overall, i'm curious to see where things go from here. I'm now anxiously looking around for any signs of a home release for that new Japanese movie, as well as looking forward to what new movies are being produced in both Japan and the US.