This portrait depicts Ryuzo and Hiroji, who appeared in “Keisei Sanbon Gasa” at the Miyako-za Theater in July 1794 (Kansei 6). In this kyogen play, Nagoya Sansaburo plays a good man, and Fuwa Banzaemon a villain. The follower of Nagoya Sansaburo is Hiroji as Tosa Matahei, and Fuwa Banzaemon’s is Ukiyo Matahei, played by Ryuzo. This picture illustrates the two characters with contrast. Sharaku illustrates the actors’ full-body view from the bottom of the stage, with great structural beauty, which he has depicted particularly well in this picture. Additionally, each figure is made up of a combination of large and small triangles, and together the two of them make up the shape of one large triangle. This combination creates a brilliant structural balance.
Hiroji Otani III was a student of Hiroji II and took over from Oniji Otani in 1763 (Horeki 12). Various reviews at the time wrote about him, “acts flawlessly”, “good wording and charming”, and “nice looking, tall, and acts smoothly”. He died in May 1802 (Kyowa 2) at the age of 57.