Friday, July 9, 2021

Giants and Toys – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1958
Director: Yasuzô Masumura
Writers: Takeshi Kaikô, Yoshio Shirasaka
Cast: Hiroshi Kawaguchi, Hitomi Nozoe, Hideo Takamatsu, Michiko Ono

Release Date: May 10th, 2021 (UK), May 11th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Time: 95 Minutes 4 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Japanese
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £24.99 (UK), $39.95 (USA)

"A new recruit to the marketing department of World Caramel, fresh-faced graduate Nishi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi) is eager to impress his ambitious and hard-nosed boss Goda (Black Test Car's Hideo Takamatsu), even if it strains his relationships with his college friend Yokoyama (Koichi Fujiyama) and new love interest Masami (Michiko Ono), who work at the rival companies of Giant and Apollo. With World's lead over its competitors slipping badly, the two spot a chance to get back in the race in the shape of the pretty but unsophisticated 18-year-old, Kyoko (Hitomi Nozoe). The two get to work polishing this rough diamond as their new campaign girl, but as the three rival confectionary companies pitch themselves into an all-out advertising war that spills out onto the streets of Tokyo as it escalates to ludicrous extremes, Kyoko's newfound fame starts going to her head. With the pressure mounting within the hothouse environment of World's boardroom, it soon becomes clear to Nishi that the Goda has sold out more than just his family in the name of corporate advancement." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "The High Definition master was produced and supplied by Kadokawa, with additional grading and restoration by Arrow Films at R3Store Studios, London."

Giants and Toys comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 33.7 GB

Feature: 26.6 GB

For a Japanese film made in the 1950's Giants and Toys transfer looks very good. Giants and Toys is a colorful film and this transfer does a great job with colors, they look appropriately robust. Though there are some minor density related issues, most of the time Image clarity and black levels look very good.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in Japanese and included with this release are removable English subtitles. Dialog comes through clearly, and range wise ambient sounds and the score are well-represented.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, an image gallery, a theatrical trailer (2 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Japanese with English subtitles), an introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns (10 minutes 26 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a visual essay by Asian cinema scholar Earl Jackson titled In the Realm of the Publicists (20 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with Japanese cinema scholar Irene González-López and a thirty-six page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Giants and Toys: Cinema as Kaleidoscope written by MIchael Raine, Yasuzô Masumura filmography and information about the transfer.  

Summary:

Though there are many elements in Yasuzô Masumura’s films that are uniquely Japanese. More than any of his contemporaries, his films are marked by cinema and filmmakers outside of Japan that’s influenced him. And it's the merging of these two elements why his films have endured where most of his contemporaries' films have become footnotes.

Content wise, Giants and Toys is an equal parts satire on consumerism and social commentary on Japanese corporate culture. And though their themes explored in Giants and Toys were new at that time. The reason Giants and Toys resonates today, possibly more than it was initially released, is because said themes are more relevant than ever before.

When discussing Giants and Toys one must not overlook Hitomi Nozoe’s enchanting portrayal of Kyoko, a young unremarkable looking woman who’s transformed into a media sensation. She delivers a pitch-perfect performance that hits all the right notes. The rest of the cast is all very good in their respective roles.

From a production standpoint, Giants and Toys is an extraordinary film that superbly realizes its premise. Also, a briskly paced narrative ensures there's never a boring moment and key moments are given an ample amount of time to resonate. Not too be overlooked are the visuals and how effectively they reinforce the whimsical mood.

Arrow Video gives Giants and Toys a solid audio/video presentation and a trio of insightful extras, highly recommended.









Written by Michael Den Boer

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