Those directors who return to the same theme over and over commonly use the same actor to embody it. Akira Kurosawa cast Toshiro Mifune as the intense hero in film after film about masculine, if not always traditionally macho, heroism. Juzo Itami starred wife Nobuko Miyamoto as the tough cookie taking on charming, unreliable guys in comedy after comedy satirizing the excesses of bubble-era Japan.

In a similar way, Gaku Hamada has become the go-to actor for Yoshihiro Nakamura, making five films to date with the director since starring as a naive college student in Nakamura’s 2007 “Ahiru to Kamo no Koinrokka (The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God).” Diminutive and pixie-faced, Hamada looks more likely to be cast in “The Hobbit” than as the hero in a local commercial film.

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