Again consciously moving outside of his comfort zone, Kinoshita took on the directing of a big-budget, medieval period epic—somewhat of a rarity in his home base, Shochiku, a studio known for its dedication to shomin-geki, or stories of everyday life. Yet while the battle scenes and historical detail are brilliantly executed, the focus in The River Fuefuki remains strongly on the internal dynamics of family life. When Sozo, the eldest son of a family of farmers, decides to become the retainer to a powerful warlord, his disappointed and fearful parents realize they have no other option than to let him go. But then the lure of military service begins to spread among their younger sons. The film carries an unmistakable anti-war message while detailing how the seeds of militarism in young people gradually take root and finally blossom. Kinoshita based the visual design of the film on scroll painting, capturing the sense of brushstrokes with wide swatches of color.