“Humans Enjoy Caramels” – Kenneth Tu

Caramel candies are often assigned a nostalgic value, as memories of enjoying caramels are usually attached to idyllic childhoods. The film, Giants and Toys, reveals a much darker side to the public front of three competing caramel companies. There is a certain irony to how ruthless the company executives are when considering they are marketing a product of such simplicity and innocence. By adopting the caramel, the film makes itself more accessible and capable of spreading its criticisms of Japanese corporate structure by having a food that is universally relatable. Nishi keeps his dignity and compassion by leaving World Confectionary, but Goda is left a shell of a human working endlessly for World.

Goda is the film’s main antagonist, but he also acts as an epitome of the power-hungry maniac. Throughout the movie, he transforms from a suave businessman to a monster on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown. His insatiable appetite for power is well demonstrated in the scene in which he attempts to oust his own father-in-law from World. At the meeting to discuss what actions should be taken in response to the fire at the Apollo factory, Goda’s father-in-law advocates an honorable approach with respect to Bushido. He accurately accuses Goda of being arrogant when Goda pushes for increasing advertising to exploit the opportunity. In a twist of irony, Goda claims, “The public are worse than babies. Worse than dogs… They work like slaves, and get drunk at night.” He does not see he does much of the same yet remains unhappy with his current position in life. By the end of the movie, Goda is left with nothing: he has given up his health for his cocktail of drugs and stress, his wife has descended into insanity, and the only thing he has left in life is work.

It is at the end of the film where the crucial confrontation between Nishi and Goda occurs. In protest of the inhumanity that runs rampant in corporate Japan, Nishi resigns from his position. All the while, Goda is pathetically half-naked and attempting to put on a costume designed for Kyoko. Nishi exclaims, “I’ll live like a human being… No, I refuse to kill myself… No! I won’t sacrifice my dignity.” Nishi realizes that there is much more to life than work and power. In a great act of compassion, Nishi tears the costume away from Goda and dons it himself. He does this not to please Goda or to keep his job—his dignity would not allow that—but he does it to keep Goda from killing himself by choking on his own blood while prancing around in a silly costume.

It is easy to imagine Nishi taking the time to enjoy a caramel because he realizes there is much more to life than work and power. His idealism is well reflected in the childhood innocence associated with caramels. It is unfortunate that Nishi has been taken advantage of by his best friend, his lover, and Goda, but this is only a parallel to how the companies seek to exploit the wants of children to rake in profits. The boardroom scene with Goda’s father-in-law is crucial in spreading the film’s message that the corporate world needs to conduct itself with morals and respect. Japan is in the midst of modernization; and, it is up to the young generation, such as Goda and Nishi, to lead Japan towards a moral future. The final scene of the movie is its call to action, which asks its audience to take a vocal stand, even if it means wearing a silly costume.

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