The directorial debut of the famed Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa,  姿三四郎 (Sanshiro Sugata) was released in March 1943. Based on a novel by Tsuneo Tomita (the son of a prominent Judo practitioner), the film follows a youth who travels to the city to learn Jujutsu, but discovers a new form of self-defense known as Judo. The main character is based on Saigō Shirō, one of the earliest disciples of Judo.

The film includes many of Kurosawa’s directorial trademarks, such as the use of transition wipes (where one shot replaces another with a special shape or travels from one side of the frame to another), weather patterns reflecting character moods, and abruptly changing camera speeds.

The film Sanshiro Sugata was remade several times and a sequel, Sanshiro Sugata Part II, was released in 1945.