Arrow Video: Sales Are Everything: Giants and Toys (1958) - Reviewed


Photo courtesy of Arrow Video


Giants and Toys (1958) starts out at a breakneck pace and never lets up, jumping out at the audience immediately with a peppy and loud theme song and a slickly designed photo montage. This sets the mood for the entire film as it follows the intense and often chaotic world of advertisement and corporations and the trials and tribulations of three confectionery companies.

The main viewpoint follows a young go-getter named Nishi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi) who is hungry to make a splash at World Caramel which is ran by the ulcer-ridden, pill-popping Goda (Hideo Takamatsu). Making candy is a cut-throat business and World Caramel has to compete with Giant and Apollo, two other entities trying to corner the sweets market.

Fortunately, Goda discovers Kyoko (Hitomi Nozoe) an unrefined but amicable taxi company phone operator who has the ability to charm everyone around her. Ironically, she sports a set of decayed teeth which normally wouldn't be a good representation for a candy company (what with the belief that eating too much candy rots one's teeth) but Kyoko's dressed down demeanor ends up being incredibly relatable and she becomes a big hit for the company.

Director Masumura is interested in how capitalism both enhances and destroys people's lives. Living only to make money leaves little room for meaningful personal relationships, and this is made extremely clear in how Nishi's commitment to his lover is strained by Goda's constant requests and pressure to put the company's wants and needs above his own. Kyoko also goes through a transformative arc, starting out as a naive fun loving girl and eventually becoming a distant prima donna as she rockets up the heights of stardom. Kyoko is treated like an extension of the company’s product and eventually loses her sense of self as a result.

Giants and Toys is an overwhelming film both visually and aurally with bright colors and fast editing in a full sprint alongside speedy interactions and dialog. This can make it hard to follow at times, but it culminates in an over-the-top third act that ties everything together and delivers a rather nihilistic punchline that skewers both capitalism and Japanese work culture.


If one is interested in learning about Masumura Yasuzo's work there are two excellent video essays by Tony Rayns and Earl Jackson. Rayns has a short introduction that touches on the history of the film and Jackson has a longer piece that delves into the themes and subtext. Japanese cinema expert Irene Gonzalez-Lopez has a very in-depth commentary that talks about the visuals (camera work, cinematography, scene composition), thematic similarities with Masumura's other work, use of music, Japanese history, and many other interesting topics.




  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Brand new audio commentary by Japanese cinema scholar Irene González-López
  • Newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns
  • In the Realm of the Publicists, a brand new visual essay by Asian cinema scholar Earl Jackson
  • Original Trailer
  • Image Gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing by Michael Raine

--Michelle Kisner