When three rival candy companies go to war for market supremacy, World Caramels enlists a lower-class girl with appallingly bad teeth to be their new spokesmodel. In a world of industrial spies, hostile takeovers and board... more »room hysterics, the animal instincts of this overnight star prove to be the most cutthroat of all. This razor-sharp, fast-paced attack on post-war corporate society and TV culture plays like a Japanese combination of "Dr. Strangelove" and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" More valid today than the day it was made, New Wave master Yasuzo Masumura's DaieiScope explosion of color, sound and acid wit ranks with the best satires of Billy Wilder and Frank Tashlin.« less
"Masumura Yasuzo is not a name one generally associates with great Japanese film. A director of over 60 films, he has never been an A-lister like Kurosawa, Kobayashi or Ozu. Yet one does not need to be a genius to make good films, and Masumura certainly makes good films.
"Giants and Toys" ("Kyojin to Gangu" ) is a story of corporate Japan, and the overwhelming drive for success at any costs. It is a tale as common in modern Japan as it was in 1958, and it is amazing to see how little the culture has changed in over 42 years. In fact, this bright, colorful and fast paced film feels far more modern and ahead of its time than films from the 70's and 80's.
Two friends, Nishi and Ryuji, begin working for the publicity departments of rival candy companies "World" and "Giant." They vow to remain true friends, and not let their companies rivalry come between them. However, Nishi's boss Gonda is determined to win the season, and influences Nishi to try to gain insider information into the campaigns using his connections. Nishi begins to date an employee of a third company, "Apollo," and tries to seduce secrets from his new girlfriend.
Into this tangles mix comes Shima Kyoko, a slum hillbilly with rotted teeth that Gonda is certain he can turn into a star and manipulate to win the candy war. Kyoko is cute, energetic and has a crush on Nishi. She only agrees to put on the Spacesuit, stick out her tongue and pose for pictures with a promise of future love from Nishi, who is disgusted by her.
Soon, everything goes topsy-turvy, as Kyoko becomes an overnight celebrity, worshiped by the Japanese public. Sales do not go up with her new popularity, and Gonda drives himself to greater and greater acts of desperation, literally working himself to death in order to gain sales. Through it all, Nishi sees himself as the last uncorrupted soul in the company, as even his friend betrays him and Kyoko loses her innocence to her new-found power.
The storyline, which seems like a simple, charming love story at first, is soon twisted by the world of corporate Japan into something dark and ugly. It is a difficult transition, and much like the innocence of the characters it is hard to let go of the idyllic dream that everything will work out. While looking at first like brightly colored candy, under the surface is a bitter pill. "This is Japan" screams Gonda at the idealistic Nishi, "and you are Japanese!" There is no escape from the overwhelming demands of the state, and the state has decreed that happiness is not the province of the salaryman.
"Giants and Toys" is a deep and insightful look into the world of corporate Japan, and the cult of the disposable celebrity. I was really impressed by what I thought was going to be light fluff, but is actually an important film."
Greed, ambition and the cult of celebrity
Madtea | Portland, OR USA | 01/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like the candy companies in the film that aren't really so sweet, this is a great film that deceptively appears to be fun, but becomes quite a serious examination of greed, celebrity and the rat race. It was made in 1958, but could have been made today."
Madtea | 06/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Wow, what a great find. It's amazing to think that this intelligent and thought provoking film was made in 1958 - it's just as relevant and insightful when viewed today. Three rival candy companies try to outdo each other in order to achieve greater sales is the basic premise, and the ways in which they go about this has to be seen to be believed. I'd also highly recommend director Yasuzo Masumura's take on The Collector - Blind Beast. The transfers for both films are superb by the way, utilising pristine source elements."
Pop satire of postwar japanese capitalism was way ahead of i
Andres C. Salama | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 12/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Japan, 1958. As fierce competition goes on between the Giant, World, and Apollo candy companies, Nishi, an advertising executive for World, finds on the streets a cute hillbilly girl called Kyoko with rotted out teeth, bad clothes and tadpoles as pets. Sensing she possesses some sort of weird appeal, he immediately thinks she would make a great model for the next World campaign, selling candy in a space suit (Space themes, the execs reason, should score big as a new theme for advertising in Asia; let's remember this movie was made a year after the Sputnik). As she becomes more famous, of course, Kyoko develops a more independent streak, and resents more and more being manipulated around by the World people. So she tries to pursue the dream of being a singer in the new medium of television. It is amazing that this satire of advertising, capitalism and consumerism was made in 1958, since it is unlike any other movie from that time, including American movies. A film relatively (and undeservedly) unknown, it's full of pop imagery a decade before pop took over the world. It only shows once again that since the 1950s, Japan has been ahead of the rest of the world (including other rich countries) by decades."
Giants and Toys
John Farr | 06/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An acid satire on Japan's bustling, postwar business ethic, where ruthless Western-style capitalism meets traditional notions of collective duty, "Giants and Toys" is both humorous and harrowing thanks to Masumura's clever modulation of tones. The wonderful Kawaguchi plays Nishi with stone-faced bewilderment and outright disgust for the lengths he's expected to go (such as sleeping with Kyoko, who has a crush on him) to advance his employer's agenda, but he isn't above trying to pry information from his own lover--a publicist for the competition. Nozoe is equally brilliant as the lower-class naif who morphs into a puckish celebrity. Smart, raucous, and fast-paced, "Toys" is an outlandishly savage look at the corporate rat race."