Kiba-no-Masakichi, Masa for short, is a lumber worker who falls in love with Oshima almost at first sight, in The One & Only Girl I Ever Loved (Nakayama shichiri, 1962).
The English title was a weak one for its first US release, for The Only Girl I Ever Loved implied a love story rather than a film with excellent swordplay. Although it is partially a costume love story, it comes very close to being the sort of ninkyo eiga or chivalrous gambler film that dominated the screens of the 1960s.
Its title in the UK was a bit better, Seven Miles from Nakayama, which is a standard poetic reference to a village in the Hida district with mountains extremely close. Thus the film has also been known as In a Ring of Mountains.
One & Only GirlBased on a novel by Shin Hasegawa, Nakayama shichiri was already twice filmed in 1930, one version directed by Namio Ochiai & from which less than 40 minutes survive, the other directed by Kyotaro Namiki. Both are silent films, preserved by the Makino film institute.
When a corrupt magistrate rapes Oshima, Masa (Raizo Ichikawa) avenges her by killing the officer, becoming thereby a fugitive, haunted & grief-stricken by the fact that Oshima committed suicide.
Going underground in the gambling world, perpetually hiding from the law, Masa eventually meets a young woman named Onaka, who looks exactly like Oshima. Tales having two look-alike heroines are a commonplace in Japanese period films, a plot affectation inherited from the kabuki theater.
One & Only GirlThough Onaka is the girlfriend of Masa’s friend Toku (Koichi Ose), she nevertheless finds herself falling for Masa, a feeling that he cannot squash even by rudely telling her she only looks like the woman he loved, she is not that woman. ~ Paghat the Ratgirl