This hard-to-find Fukasaku/Kurahara collaboration is an interesting coming-of-age story. The boy Shisuke grows up in a coal mining community in Kyushu, during and after the Second World War, and the viewer is treated to the
circumstances that shape the young man who emerges.
It’s a harsh world, peopled by strong personalities — macho men and determined women. Bunta Sugawara delivers
his usual vigorous performance as the boy’s father, a man who is universally loved by the miners for his bravery in
the face of danger and his defiance of injustice. Tomisaburo Wakayama is the father’s rival and admirer. Tsunehiko
Watase is interesting as a Korean miner, willing to fight the prejudices of his Japanese overseers to secure equal
treatment for his people. And Keiko Matsuzaka is lovely as the warm and sexy stepmother, who will stop at nothing
to raise the boy in the image of his father.