Painting women, painting on women. Built around our complicity with Utamaro's brush and his objectifying aesthetic obsession with the vitality of working class women. Complicity because we follow his gaze, just as Seinosuke abandons a tradition of painting because he can, just as a gaggle of men follow Utamaro's every move. Little by little, cracks, lines of flight, appear. We begin to follow the spurned women chasing after their loves, men replicating Utamaro's dispassionate lifestyle. Only when Utamaro is put under house arrest can we fully follow Okita and Yukie.
Horror by the end -- "I want to draw. I want to draw pictures," says Utamaro, hands cuffed, watching Okita leave, taking the frame she held with her pain. From that pain, all he can see are drawings, one after another. "The beauty of women," he says, and my skin crawls.