Here's one scene that really sticks out.
Takuan is out to hunt Takezo, not for the bounty money but because Takezo is the descendant of a prominent line of samurai and wants to fulfil the man's potential. He sets out with Takezo's best friend's fiancee, Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa), and they set up camp in the hills. Otsu plays her flute, which lures the nervous, desperate, hungry outlaw out to the campfire.
Takezo asked why Takuan is here, and Takuan replies to capture him. Takezo tells Takuan that he will never surrender.
"Are you trying to defeat yourself, too?", asks the priest?
"I don't mind dying in a good fight. But before I die, I will have some blood!", says Takezo stubbornly.
"What about your relatives", Takuan goes on.
"What relatives? They all hate me!", Takezo rages, close to bursting into tears. "Better off dead, all of them!"
"Even the women... and their children?", are Takuan's questions.
"I don't care! Let them all..." Takezo is unable to finish sentence, and is so ashamed that breaks down into heavy, healthy sobs, which is Takuan's chance to capture him and bring him into the village.
Even though he's exaggerating, and saying cruel words about his family. we sympathise with poor Takezo's plight. He's come back from war to find that his family and friends have betrayed him. Is it no wonder he goes on the run?
If you've ever been in a therapy session like I have, you'll end up saying some irrational things, too. And you'll have the therapist asking these very simple but very powerful questions, like Takuan's. Of course, unlike Takuan, no therapist has ever beaten me, nor suspended me by my hands from a tree, but the rest of this scene is familiar to my experience of being autistic.
I, like Takezo, am stubborn and hot tempered, and I don't listen to advice easily. So I sympathise with him all the more.
Later in the film, Takezo escapes with the help of Otsu, but Otsu is captured and brought to another castle. Takezo, grateful for her rescuing him, climbs up the castle wall to do the same.
Three years pass, and when we next see Takezo, he is calm and restrained, more like Kyuzo from Seven Samurai than Kikuchiyo.
Behaviour is a theme and a coding of the film.
Part of what Takuan was doing when he captured Takezo the first time was analysing the consequence of his behaviour, which causes Takezo to start crying in shame , and is the reason why Takezo becomes so easy to capture.
Of course, it's not quite that. Takuan uses Otsu as bait, and forcibly locks Takezo away, which may have caused poor, lovesick Takezo to lapse into a serious depression for a few days. It's not as though he changed overnight. Knowing him, logic wouldn't set in so easily, whether or nor he knew he'd be killed if he escaped.
At the same time, Otsu is suggested as positive encouragement for Takezo to change his behaviour. She's a reward for him to become more 'civilised'. "She will wait", says Takuan before leaving Takezo for the next three years. Takezo is convinced that Takuan is lying, so what made him finally believe the priest? What made him stop doubting him?
What exactly caused Takezo to stop being so emotional? Especially a man of his temperament?
In a way, his reform is for the purpose of him being more acceptable to society. Although he's calmer in later movies, the old Takezo shines through as he is forced to make difficult decisions.
Takezo's previous behaviour is seen as 'abnormal' for a man, especially a man of his class. This therapy is both helpful and harmful to him. It stifles his feelings, which are healthy and appealing, but also helps him to become more disciplined.
I'm curious about this.
In the original text, Takezo reforms of his own will after learning that he is descended from noblemen, which humbles him almost immediately and facilitates his transformation. He reads the texts and reflects on his past, and on his own behaviour, and lets out his feelings, in private, before becoming a stoic years later. Plus he was not forcibly locked away like in the film.
This would be interesting for therapists to analyse.