In Giants and Toys (1958), Yasuo Masumura illustrates an economic struggle in the postwar Japan. The film describes three major candy companies, Giant, World, and Apollo, which fiercely competed to sell caramels. Apollo had the advantage of having a lovely caramel flavor while the other companies’ caramels used a standard taste. The other two companies then fought the war using extravagant public campaigns to improve their sales. Throughout the film, Masumura intends to satire the irony of caramel whose quality improvement for the benefit of their product was never considered.
In the early scene, World’s director blamed Goda’s father-in-law for his lack of persuasive marketing, causing a profit decline. The director bluntly refused his excuse, then argued that people love and would always buy caramels under any circumstances. In this conversation, Goda’s father-in-law might be trying to imply that public campaign was no longer effective. However, instead of inventing a better flavor than Apollo’s caramel, he insisted that the campaign was the only way to attract customers. He then came up with an idea of giving “prizes.” The emphasis on these prizes rather than the discovery of new flavors essentially kills the hidden-potential of the caramels. – Caramels are best when they are fresh and a bit chewy, however, it can actually be produced with a variety of textures which also gave delightful taste.
Moreover, the image below displays a mass production of caramels being grinned, sliced, wrapped, and packaged. The scene suggests that caramels were simply thought as a commodity, not an identity. This kind of perspective clearly disvalues both the caramel and its consumers who craved for its true delicacy. The repeated click of cigarette lighter montage over the production factory line may indicate the quality of the caramels that remained the same. True candy lovers certainly would yearn for a better taste to please their craving. Moreover, the later scene depicting children buying these caramels actually shows that their minds were being corrupted and manipulated. The children wouldn’t realize that the product actually destroyed their food appreciation in which their satisfaction was fulfilled enough only with the caramel sweetness.
In this later scene, having failed to sell a lot of caramels, Goda was ordered to persuade major consumers by entertaining them. Goda’s sweet words and the luxurious entertainment might prove useful to lure them buying the caramels. In a different perspective, however, Goda’s act shows an even more pathetic effort, having sunk so low as to force the people to buy and eat caramels even if they actually didn’t want to. In a sense, there was no meaning to eat the caramels anymore since the joy of consuming the caramel had been taken away. Eventually, the caramels “lost” their sweetness in the same way that World suffered its loss.
Consequently, Giant and Toys teaches how food-manufacturers should appreciate food. Even if it is factory-made, food has an identity in which people value. Just like human, Caramel also have their own right to possess a mouth-watering flavor and that’s our job to secure that right – and eat them with full of respect.