The propaganda aspect isn't that distracting, since the conservative die-for-the-emperor is a staple of period pieces like this - it's certainly less depressing than the kind of things Naruse was sometimes given during the war. Any other director would've made a cheap programmer and slept just fine; Mizoguchi gives us 70 minutes of cinematic beauty. Yamada Isuzu, in her final Mizoguchi film, wields a mean sword.
This propaganda piece is a beautiful film visually (as always with Mizoguchi) but the propaganda is very very overt and really not done in a subtle way (as opposed to the great The 47 Ronin). Mizoguchi probably wasn't too keen on making this one but at the time it was probably just about the only kind of film he could make. Visually excellent but that's about it. 3/5
Splendid to look at this early Mizo film anticipates the strengths and delights to come. A love story that commences with a dreamlike establishing shot this may be thin in terms of content but the visual splendor compensates to the full. The metallurgy scene is beautiful and Mizo captures stunningly the attractions of the female form in its martial arts skills as Sasae wins a kendo practice match against her dad.