Monsters are tragic beings. They’re not bad [willingly]. They’re born too tall, too strong, too heavy; that’s their tragedy. They don’t attack [mankind] voluntarily, but because of their physical dimensions they cause danger and grief; therefore man defends himself against them. After several stories of this type, the public finds sympathy for the monsters.
— Ishiro Honda, speaking of his film Rodan
Whether for good or bad, Godzilla decided the course of my life.
— Honda on the impact Godzilla had on his career
Ishiro Honda (本多
Biography[edit | edit source]
Ishiro Honda is probably best known for the many science fiction films which he directed for Toho, including eight entries in the Godzilla series. He directed the original Godzilla along with King Kong vs. Godzilla, Mothra vs. Godzilla, All Monsters Attack and many others throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He also directed other tokusatsu films for Toho such as Rodan and Mothra during this time. Aside from the original Godzilla, the 1963 cult horror film Matango is widely considered Honda's greatest work. Honda was a frequent collaborator of the legendary special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya, who directed or received credit for the effects for all of Honda's kaiju films until he passed away in 1970. Due to Tsuburaya's failing health during filming for All Monsters Attack, Honda directed the film's special effects sequences himself with assistance from Teruyoshi Nakano, with Tsuburaya still receiving honorary credit as the film's special effects supervisor.
After directing the kaiju film Space Amoeba in 1970, Honda spent the following years directing episodes of various sci-fi TV shows. Episodes of the superhero shows Return of Ultraman, Mirror Man and Zone Fighter were directed by Honda. Honda also served as the editor for the reissues of films that were screened during the Toho Champion Festival in the early 1970's. His final feature film came with 1975's Terror of Mechagodzilla, which would also prove to be the final entry in the original Showa series of Godzilla films.
At the end of his career, Honda returned to working as an assistant director for his old friend, legendary director Akira Kurosawa. It is sometimes alleged that Honda directed one of the segments of the 1990 Kurosawa film Dreams, "The Tunnel," in which a company commander faces the ghosts of his platoon after World War II. This has not been proven; however, Honda's wife Kimi was convinced that his nightmares inspired the segment.
Selected filmography[edit | edit source]
Director[edit | edit source]
- Godzilla (1954)
- Half Human (1955)
- Rodan (1956)
- The Mysterians (1957)
- H-Man (1958)
- Varan (1958)
- Battle in Outer Space (1959)
- The Human Vapor (1960)
- Mothra (1961)
- Gorath (1962)
- King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
- Matango (1963)
- Atragon (1963)
- Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
- Dogora (1964)
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
- Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965)
- Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
- The War of the Gargantuas (1966)
- King Kong Escapes (1967)
- Destroy All Monsters (1968)
- Latitude Zero (1969)
- All Monsters Attack (1969)
- Space Amoeba (1970)
- Return of Ultraman (TV 1970-1971) [episodes 1-2, 7, 9, 51]
- Mirror Man (TV 1971-1972) [episodes 1-2]
- Emergency 10-4, 10-10 (TV 1972) [episodes 5-6, 20-21]
- Thunder Mask (TV 1972) [episodes 1-2, 4-5, 14-15]
- Zone Fighter (TV 1973) [episodes 3-4, 12-13, 18-19, 23-24]
- Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
Unproduced works[edit | edit source]
- Space Mons (1962) [became Dogora]
- The Flying Battleship (1966)
- Daimajin (1984)
- Shin Godzilla (1992)
Screenwriter[edit | edit source]
- Godzilla (1954) [with Takeo Murata]
- The War of the Gargantuas (1966) [with Kaoru Mabuchi]
- Destroy All Monsters (1968) [with Kaoru Mabuchi]
Editor[edit | edit source]
- King Kong vs. Godzilla (1970) [Toho Champion Festival reissue; uncredited]
- Mothra vs. Godzilla (1970) [Toho Champion Festival reissue; uncredited]
- The Great Monster War: King Ghidorah vs. Godzilla (1971) [uncredited]
- Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Greatest Battle on Earth (1971) [uncredited]
- Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1972) [Toho Champion Festival reissue; uncredited]
- Godzilla: The Great Blitz Operation (1972) [uncredited]
- Son of Godzilla (1973) [Toho Champion Festival reissue; uncredited]
- King Kong Escapes (1973) [Toho Champion Festival reissue; uncredited]
- Mothra (1974) [Toho Champion Festival reissue; uncredited]
- The Great Undersea War: Latitude Zero (1974) [uncredited]
- The Mysterians (1978) [Toho Champion Festival reissue; uncredited]
Actor[edit | edit source]
Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]
- All Monsters Attack (1969) - Director of special effects [uncredited]
Interviewee[edit | edit source]
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Honda (right) with Akihiko Hirata (left)
Honda with Eiji Tsuburaya
Honda with a Godzilla puppet
Honda directing on set for Half Human
Honda directing on set for King Kong vs. Godzilla
Honda with Kumi Mizuno
Honda's cameo in Rebirth of Mothra
Videos[edit | edit source]
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Ishiro Honda visited the set of several Heisei Godzilla films before his death in 1993, and despite rumors that he was slated to direct Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, Honda expressed no interest in returning to the series, content with his work on Akira Kurosawa's films.
- Honda stated in an interview conducted only months before his death that his favorite film he worked on was The Mysterians.
- Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, a character in Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, is named after Honda. In the June 2012 revision of the Godzilla script, he was called "Doctor Honda."
- A fictionalized version of Honda appears in the fifth episode of the fourth season of the TV series DC's Legends of Tomorrow, played by Eijiro Ozaki.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars writer Henry Gilroy named the pirate Hondo Ohnaka after Ishiro Honda and actor Seiji Onaka. His first name was originally "Honda" until George Lucas intervened.
[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
This is a list of references for Ishiro Honda. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
- Honda, Ishiro; Yamamoto, Shingo; Masuda, Yoshikazu (8 December 2010). Godzilla and My Movie Life (paperback ed.). Wanibooks. ISBN 978-4847060274.
- Ryfle, Steve (December 1998). Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G". ECW Press. ISBN 1550223488.
- Ryfle, Steve; Godziszewski, Ed (3 October 2017). Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0819577412.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Kalat, David (1997). A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 978-0786403004.
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