In this Japanese melodrama, a young painter struggles in all things to remain true to his art and to his friends, a difficult task in a society where such a quest can lead to a truly disastrous individualism. In his case, in late 19th-century Japan, repression and death surround and follow him as his culture painfully adjusts to the changes sweeping through it. Because he has absorbed some Western ideas about artistic realism, he seeks situations where he can see the things he plans to paint, whether it be a naked woman, or a scene of hara-kiri. At one time, he was poised to become an official painter for the Imperial Court. However, his indignation at the authorities, for having chopped his rebellious friend to death, puts him in grave danger. Because of his associates and his known attitudes, he is likely to be subject to investigation about his past. His pariah mother kills herself to prevent the authorities from discovering damaging information about his birth.
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