Japan, after World War II, began to integrate films into foreign societies and post a reputation for their cinematography. Unfortunately, some foreign film critics believe that Japan is a never changing country and the films are representations of that fact. Masumura, the director of Giants and Toys, felt the need to change the idealism the Western world conceived about Japan. In the movie, Giants and Toys, the protagonist uses various ways to promote his company’s sumptuous caramel, which is an ongoing motif throughout the story. The caramel plays a grand role in symbolizing how Japan, like any other country, started out as grains of sugar, before being added into the melting milk pot of society and becoming the candy that would later define it.
The scene that captures the symbolism of a changing Japan is found when Goro, the manager, tries to ignite his lighter and the picture then becomes a montage of the assembly process of caramel. Caramel, in this sense, represents the ongoing process of change within Japan society and history. The candy first begins as a sugar, then through a long process of mixing and melting, it then develops into the candy that people see today. Masumura tries to imitate the ongoing changes of Japan in the film in order to amend the idealism of repetition that foreigners seem to have placed on Japanese culture. During the process of advertising the caramels or “Japan,” the characters brought influences of Western culture such as space travel and apparel. The influence of western culture introduces the caramel to various new frontiers in sales and advertisements. Masumura alludes to the fact that Japan, with influence from western culture is also changing with the trends of the world.
Rest assured that Masumura is not losing sight of the traditions of his own country. He recognizes the different and lasting legacies that originated in Japan as well. Picture the scene when Apollo’s factory burned down; the influence of western and modernist thinking of money have made greedy men out of the business men. Only the semi-retired old man realizes that they must treat the situation with dignity and compassion. He states how rival samurais and bushidos back in the day would help one another during a famine or disaster. This reveals that Masumura has not lost contact with his Japanese roots; he readily accepts traditions that define Japan. Throughout the movie, he alludes to western influences, yet in this scene, he warns if there is too much influence, the society will lost sight of what is righteous and correct and be corrupted by what constitutes as greed. During the scene, Masumura shows that Japan influences, such as the traditions of loyalty found in the samurai, can be used for righteousness and honor.
The role caramel play is interpreted to represent the ongoing changes of Japan. As Japan continues down the conveyor belt of development, different influences will be added. Masumura’s goal: to not have too much influence or else the resulting candy might be too sweet.