Yoichi Higashi breakthrough film Sâdo is based on script by Shuji Terayama and produced by Art Theatre Guild (ATG). The film follows the relationship of one man to the world around him, variously his mother, the urban landscape of Japanese youth, and ultimately those incarcerated in a corrective school, after he is involved in a murder.
Even in the world of criminal outsiders, there are those who are especially isolated. In this story, Third (Toshiyuki Nagashima) is an aimless young man who hangs around with a couple of girls who are amateur hookers. One day, while acting as their pimp, he gets into a conflict with a young gangster and winds up killing him. He is caught for this crime and imprisoned. Even here, because he is not a proper gangster, he is an outsider.
~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide
[Yoichi Higashi’s] real breakthrough came in 1978 with The Third. It was voted the year’s best picture by Kinema jumpo. The playwright Shuji Terayama wrote the script himself. The film is set in a juvenile house of corrections. It’s protagonist had played third base in hight school, hence th title ‘The Third’. Japan in the 1960s, like the United States in that decade, had reason to be worried about rising rates of juvenile delinquency. A number of directors made films that explored this phenomenon. Most, such as Susumu Hani’s Bad Boys (1960), studied the boys from outside, as evidence of a social problem. Higashi did the opposite in The Third, looking at the world from the point of view of the juvenile offender himself. His youth sees himself as a reject – excluded by school and society at large.
~ By Keiko I. McDonald, Reading a Japanese Film