Caramel, Media, & Riches – edwinyoo

            The film Giants and Toys is a face paced movie representing the rapid growth of post-war Japan. The film starts with a “human flood” imitating the fierce competition that is present in modern Japan. The chaos of the movie is depicted in the characters as well. They characters are always speaking very quickly rarely taking any time to breathe. The scenes of the film are always changing as well rarely staying in one scene for too long. The film criticizes the power of mass media and the declining pride on morals and values. Everything that happens in the film is due to the desire for the three companies to sell caramels and come out on top. The need to continuously sell caramels and make profit leads to the downfall of many characters.

The most interesting character in the film is the main female protagonist, Kyoko. The first impression of Kyoko is a quirky girl with rotten teeth. She is discovered by Goda, the head of World advertisement. Goda grooms Kyoko into a sellable product in order to sell more caramels. Nishi, the main protagonist, finds Kyoko to be unappealing and resembles a monkey. However once Kyoko’s photos are printed in magazines Nishi changes his mind saying “that funny face of hers is attractive.” The power of mass media swayed Nishi’s opinion of Kyoko’s charm. Advertisement is show throughout the film. Even when Nishi and Kurahashi, his love interest, go to the beach, a large billboard advertising caramels can be seen in the background. The amount of advertisement seen is all over the country extending to the beaches which is the very edge of the nation.

The relationships between the characters in Giants and Toys are shallow. The most obvious relationship that is used as a tool to get ahead is shown within Goda. Goda married his boss’ daughter to secure a higher rank at his workplace. Rather than using “love” as a pure emotion, he uses it as a tool to progress further in the workplace. Nishi and his friend Ryuji have a good friendship at the start, but as the movie progresses we can see the loyalty deteriorate. The relationship of friendly rivals grows grim when Ryuji backstabs Nishi. Kyoko, originally under Nishi’s care, is taken by Ryuji when he saw an opportunity. The betrayal between the two men is a reflection of the ruthless nature of Japanese companies. The biggest betrayal happens between Kyoko and Goda. Goda gives Kyoko an opportunity and she is very grateful that a well groomed business man would give a great chance to a poor girl. However the fame and glory that is accompanied by her success corrupts Kyoko. The film shows the evolution of Kyoko from a raw quirky young girl with rotten teeth to a manufactured celebrity product with nice clothes, colored hair, and fixed teeth. Kyoko refuses to take a small job from Goda, the man who essentially created her. This is a criticism of the negativity that stems from mass media.

The running theme of “eat or be eaten” is portrayed throughout the film. All the characters are trying to survive in the harsh world by doing anything to get ahead. The presence of mass media is apparent throughout the entire film. Advertisements are in virtually every scene trying to manipulate the masses. Goda truly believes in the mass media when he ridicules his father-in-law of the “bushido” concept. Goda is a slave to greed trusting that the public are so unintelligent that the “dictatorship of publicity” will make them buy caramels. Masumura’s film Giants and Toys highlights concerning issues that arises from the rapid growth of Japan.


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