image for Hachiko

Short takes

Not suitable under 11; parental guidance to 13 (themes, language, subtitles)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hachiko
  • a review of Hachiko completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 April 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Not suitable due to themes, language and subtitles.
Children aged 11–13 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and language.
Children aged 14 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Hachiko
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild coarse language
Length: 125 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

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. The two 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, the children marry and move away. Every day, Batong goes to the train station to see his master off to work and is waiting 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 steadfast devotion and drag him from his vigil. Batong brings out the best in all who befriend him, and his story of loyalty and love inspire all who hear it.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Cruelty to animals; The practice of eating dogs; Death and separation from a loved one.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • 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.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

  • Nothing further noted.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Professor Chen’s wife gives Batong away, sheepishly saying the man she gave him to went towards the market. Professor Chen takes off in search of Batong, clearly worried that he is going to be eaten. All around there are animals strung up or being chopped up for food. Ducks and geese hang by their necks, bloody carcasses dangle from meat hooks. Batong is heard barking from a distance and Professor Chen overhears the man who took him, telling another man how he wants him prepared: spicy dog. Professor Chen waits until the man is distracted and quietly rescues his puppy.
  • Later in the film, after Professor Chen’s death, there are numerous scenes in which Batong is shown alone and dirty and occasionally injured as he waits for his master to come home. He sits in the rain, unmoving, his eyes fixed on the train station. While not scary, the scenes are heartbreaking and likely to be upsetting for some children.
  • Batong dies after waiting outside the train station for over 10 years. He leads what remains of his family back to the abandoned ruins of their old home where he alone has sought shelter waiting for his master’s return. Every day he would go to the train station to wait and every night (when Professor Chen did not return) his master’s old friend would continue the custom of giving him a newspaper to carry home. Batong lay down at the base of the mountain of newspapers he had carried back over the years and quietly dies. Again, the scene is not scary but it is completely heartbreaking and likely to be distressing to some viewers.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Batong finds himself a girlfriend and Professor Chen compliments his wife, telling her how the dog has good taste, similar to his own taste in pretty women.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • There is drinking at a wedding reception.
  • Professor Chen smokes on different occasions.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Idiot
  • Piss off
  • Ass
  • Damn
  • God damn.

In a nutshell

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. Viewers will fall in love with Batong, will be inspired by his steadfast devotion and humbled by his patience. The message of adopting and caring for dogs instead of eating them clearly shines through. Due to the subtitles and themes, this film is ideally suited to teen and older audiences. Viewers should be advised to bring tissues.

The main messages from this movie are that dogs are some of the smartest, most loyal and loving creatures on the planet. Their range of emotions and virtuous character equals that of their human counterparts and in some cases even surpasses it. They are much more than mere animals and should never be thought of as simply something to eat.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Loyalty
  • Compassion
  • Absolute devotion
  • Patience
  • Selflessness
  • Love.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The practice of eating dogs.
  • The condition in which animals (to be sold for meat) are kept.
  • The importance of 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.