It’s often thought in circles of Akira Kurosawa fans that Toshiro Mifune was his greatest acting collaborator (Kurosawa himself believed Mifune to be “a kind of talent I had never encountered before”). I however, not to discredit Mifune’s skills, find myself leaning towards the most prolific of Kurosawa’s acting collaborators, Takashi Shimura. From Kurosawa’s debut in 1943, Shimura appeared in twenty-one of the master’s thirty films, the recurring trait of each of his terrific roles in the likes of Drunken Angel, Stray Dog, Rashomon, Ikiru and Seven Samurai (not to mention parts in monster movies such as Godzilla) being the key ingredient of humanity. Each of his characters, however flawed or troubled, are inherently sympathetic, engaging the audience’s empathy to their plight. A really wonderful actor.