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You Probably Haven’t Seen: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter


I wish I remember where I first heard about this movie, but it went straight into my Netflix queue, and then I discovered Amazon Prime also had it, so! When I posted about the wonder of this film on Twitter, there wasn’t a single reply — thus, this idea for this post was born  — and so too the idea that I may make it an occasional series, covering movies and books that aren’t exactly popular or well known, but awesome even so.

I shall endeavor to write without spoilers.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014) tells the story of Kumiko. She works as a secretary in Tokyo, has a vile boss, and an adorable rabbit named Bunzo. Her mother (and her boss) are concerned because she’s twenty-nine and not married. Kumiko couldn’t give a fuck. Girl, I feel you. She spends her days struggling through work, and her off time hunting for treasure. In a flooded cave, Kumiko discovers something amazing indeed, and it sends her on a journey far from Tokyo — to Minnesota, where people don’t entirely understand her, which makes it not altogether unlike her home.

Kumiko is played by Rinko Kikuchi, and I’d bet money you know her from her work on Pacific Rim. She is splendid in this role, both tragic and uplifting — as is the story at hand. This film also has a great sense of humor and commentary, as when a white man, in an effort to find someone who speaks Kumiko’s language, takes her to a Chinese restaurant.

This film speaks to the magic of fiction. I’m trying my best not to spoil you, but Kumiko’s journey happens because of fiction, and when she is told what she seeks is fictional, she about loses her mind. In that way, I suppose it’s also about faith; about going forward when everyone tells you it’s too far, it’s too frozen, it’s impossible. It’s fiction, they say. It’s real, Kumiko says.

Watch this film.

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