Ishiro Honda, who directed the first science fiction movies of the monster “Godzilla” stomping on famous landmarks, died Feb. 28 at Kono Hospital. He was 81.

A hospital official declined to specify the cause of Honda’s death, but the director had been reported suffering from respiratory problems.

More than 13 million moviegoers watched the first Godzilla film, directed by Honda in 1954 for Toho Co.

In the story, Godzilla is brought back to life by nuclear testing in the Pacific and runs roughshod over big buildings. In later films, he defends Japan against various threats, although he is neither good nor evil — just accustomed to smashing anything in his way.

Toho said Honda, whose interest quickly turned to special effects, directed 45 films between 1951 and 1975, about a dozen of them monster movies, including “King Kong Vs. Godzilla.”

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