As in several other films, Oshima takes the story of a real-life criminal (here, a rapist and murderer) and uses it as the key to a sweeping analysis of the ills of post-war Japanese society. Very little time is wasted on the nuts-and-bolts of the police manhunt; the focus is on two women who know the criminal, and - through them - on the history of the village in Shinshu where the wretched man was born and raised. Oshima reveals his real subject gradually, piecing it together like a mosaic. It is an account of the decay of post-war idealism, the collapse of brave ventures like a collectively run farm, the inexorable restoration of old inequalities and injustices. The visual approach, too, is like a mosaic: there are incessant changes of camera angle, as if to stress that no one point of view is 'true'.