Ishirō Honda


Ishirō Honda (Japanese: 本多 猪四郎いしろう, Hepburn: Honda Ishirō, May 7, 1911 – February 28, 1993) was a Japanese filmmaker who directed 46 feature films in a career spanning five decades. He is acknowledged as the most internationally successful Japanese filmmaker prior to Hayao Miyazaki and one of the founders of modern disaster film, with his films having a significant influence on the film industry. Despite directing many drama, war, documentary, and comedy films, Honda is best remembered for directing and co-creating the kaiju genre with special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya and producer Tomoyuki Tanaka.

Honda entered the Japanese film industry in 1934, working as the third assistant director on Sotoji Kimura’s The Elderly Commoner’s Life Study.[9] After 15 years of working on numerous films as an assistant director, he made his directorial debut with the short documentary film Ise-Shima (1949). Honda’s first feature film, The Blue Pearl (1952), was a critical success in Japan at the time and would lead him to direct three subsequent drama films, including The Man Who Came to Port (1952), with Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura.

Honda directed and co-wrote Godzilla (1954), with Akira Takarada, Momoko Kōchi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura, Haruo Nakajima, and Katsumi Tezuka; which became a box office success in Japan, and was nominated for two Japanese Movie Association awards. Because of the film’s commercial success in Japan, it spawned a multimedia franchise, recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest-running film franchise in history, and established the kaiju and tokusatsu genres; helping Honda gain international recognition and leading him to direct numerous tokusatsu films that are still studied and watched today.

After directing his eighth and final Godzilla film in 1975, Honda retired from filmmaking. former colleague and friend, Akira Kurosawa, would, however, persuade him to come out of retirement in the late 1970s and act as his right-hand man for his last five films: Kagemusha (1980), with Tatsuya Nakadai; Ran (1985), with Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu, Mieko Harada, Peter, Hisashi Igawa, and Yoshiko Miyazaki; Dreams (1990), with Akira Terao, Martin Scorsese, Chishū Ryū, Mieko Harada, and Mitsuko Baisho; Rhapsody in August (1991), with Sachiko Murase, Hidetaka Yoshioka, and Richard Gere; and Madadayo (1993), with Tatsuo Matsumura, Kyoko Kagawa, Hisashi Igawa, and George Tokoro.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • A Story of a Co-Op (1949) – short
  • Ire-Shima (1950) – short
  • The Blue Pearl (1951)
  • The Skin of the South (1962)
  • The Man Who Came to Port (1952)
  • Adolescence Part II (1953)
  • Eagle of the Pacific (1953)
  • Farewell Rabaul (1954)
  • Godzilla (1954)
  • Lovetide (1955)
  • Mother and Son (1955)
  • Half Human (1955)
  • People of Tokyo, Goodbye (1956)
  • Night School (1956)
  • Young Tree (1956)
  • Rodan (1956)
  • Be Happy, These Two Lovers (1957)
  • A Teapicker’s Song of Goodbye (1957)
  • A Rainbow Plays in My Heart (1957)
  • A Farewell to the Woman Called My Sister (1957)
  • The Mysterians (1957)
  • Song for a Bride (1958)
  • The H-Man (1958)
  • Varan the Unbelievable (1958)
  • An Echo Calls You (1959)
  • Inao, Story of an Iron Man (1959)
  • Seniors, Juniors, Co-workers (1959)
  • Battle in Outer Space (1959)
  • The Human Vapor (1960)
  • Mothra (1961)
  • King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
  • Matango (1963)
  • Atragon (1963)
  • Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
  • Dogora (1964)
  • Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
  • Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965)
  • Invasion of the Astro-Monster (1965)
  • War of the Gargantuas (1966)
  • Come Marry Me (1966)
  • King Kong Escapes (1967)
  • Destroy All Monsters (1968)
  • Latitude Zero (1969)
  • All Monsters Attack (1969)
  • Space Amoeba (1970)
  • Mirrorman (1972) – short, theatrical release of show’s first episode
  • Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
  • Kagemusha (1980) – directed by Akira Kurosawa – production coordinator, 2nd unit director
  • Ran (1985) – directed by Akira Kurosawa – director counselor
  • Dreams (1990) – directed by Akira Kurosawa – uncredited co-writer, creative consultant
  • Rhapsody in August (1991) – directed by Akira Kurosawa – uncredited co-writer, associate director
  • Madadayo (1993) – directed by Akira Kurosawa – uncredited co-writer, directorial advisor