Cao Cao (in Japanese, So So) is a prominent figure in the semi-historical Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which describes the civil wars of 3rd century China. Although Cao Cao is cast as the villain of the tale, he is as brave and intrepid as any of the heroes. The night before the famous Battle of the Red Cliffs, Cao Cao was in a boat on the Yangzi River. Two crows flew by, an evil omen, but he composed a defiant poem and continued to give orders to his officers for the doomed battle. Yoshitoshi presents this antihero on the eve of his downfall. Though defeat waits beyond the dark cliffs, Cao Cao stands tall with his spear in hand.