Associate Professor Chen (Xiaogang Feng) works hard at his job but he is not as ambitious as his Mahjong-playing wife (Joan Chen) would like him to be. When he returns from a work trip with the abandoned puppy he rescued from under a bus, his wife wants no part of it and forbids him to keep the dog. His adult children offer little support and Chen reluctantly agrees to part with the puppy as soon as he can find a suitable owner. When his wife gives the puppy to a man who intends to eat him, Chen rescues the puppy, names him Batong and brings him home to stay. Chen and Batong become fast friends and are completely inseparable. Batong brings much love and joy to the household and proves that he is incredibly useful and resilient. Slowly life goes on, and the children marry and move away. Every day, Batong goes to the train station to see his master off to work and waits for him every night when he returns. One day, Professor Chen goes off to work, suffers a heart attack, and never comes home. Batong cannot understand what is keeping his master and he patiently waits in his special spot, hopeful of his master’s return. The family moves away and though arrangements are made for Batong to live with other people, nothing can keep him from returning to the train station where he spends his entire life, patiently waiting and watching for his beloved Chen to come back to him. Bullies, rain, injuries, hunger – nothing can shake his devotion and make him stop waiting. Batong brings out the best in everyone who makes friends with him, and his story of loyalty and love inspires all who hear it.
Cruelty to animals; the practice of eating dogs; death and separation from a loved one
Hachiko has some violence. For example:
- Professor Chen’s wife was attacked by a dog when she was little.
- Professor Chen’s wife angrily throws chopsticks at her husband and the tiny puppy, Batong.
- A character shoos Batong away from a construction site before he can be captured. She tells him that they are having a hotpot with dog meat for lunch.
- A group of kids shoot water guns at Batong.
Hachiko has some sexual references. For example:
- Batong finds himself a girlfriend and Professor Chen compliments his wife, telling her that the dog has good taste, just like his own taste in pretty women.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Hachiko has some substance use. For example:
- There is drinking at a wedding reception.
- Professor Chen smokes on different occasions.
Nudity and sexual activity
There’s no nudity and sexual activity in Hachiko.
There’s no product placement in Hachiko.
Hachiko has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Hachiko is a touching, Chinese drama, similar to the true, Japanese story of Hatchi. Hachiko is based on an original screenplay by Kaeto Shindo that shines a light on the cultural practice of eating dogs and the movie includes strong messages about adopting and caring for dogs instead of eating them. Viewers will fall in love with Batong and be inspired by his steadfast devotion and humbled by his patience. Due to the subtitles and themes, this movie is ideally suited to teens and older audiences. You might need to bring tissues.
These are the main messages from Hachiko:
- Dogs are smart, loyal and loving.
- Dogs have a range of emotions and can show greatness of character.
- Dogs should never be thought of as simply something to eat.
Values in Hachiko that you could reinforce with your children include loyalty, compassion, absolute devotion, patience, selflessness and love.
Hachiko could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of:
- the practice of eating dogs.
- the conditions in which animals (to be sold for meat) are kept.
- standing up for what you believe in and trusting your gut instead of simply doing what others tell you to do, specifically when it comes to animal welfare.