Life Has no Map (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter)

This is Day 6 of the 12 Days of Aniblogging holiday rumpus. Today I am going to talk about a live-action film titled Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, which I watched on Blu-ray this year. It was released in 2014, but I only learned of it last spring, when I picked it up on a whim.

This is probably going to be my most “hipster” post for this 12 Days dealie, but this really is a film that resonated with me much more strongly than probably any other movie I’ve ever seen before. It’s about a 29-year-old woman named Kumiko, who lives alone in a cramped, run-down apartment in Tokyo. She has a dead-end job as a clerk, and no social life. Her boss is a bit of a pain, and her mother nags her on the phone to get married already. The film never goes overboard with making Kumiko’s life out to be *terrible* — it just feels lame and meaningless.

(I can relate.)

The film shows that Kumiko has one hobby: analyzing an old VHS tape of the movie Fargo, which she found in a cave (no, really). She is obsessed with a climactic scene in which bricks of cash are buried in the snow somewhere in Minnesota, and she latches on to the possibility that this fortune is still waiting to be uncovered (because after all, the Fargo movie begins by stating it is a true story). So that’s what this film is about — Kumiko gives up everything for the sake of a completely ridiculous treasure hunt.

(I can… relate?)

Now, I imagine many viewers would just write Kumiko off as an imbecile and take the movie back to exchange it for something more uplifting. I feel like you have to live at least a few years of your life alone (or “alone”) to really understand where Kumiko is coming from in her somewhat insane thought process. A lot of people seem to know what they want to do with their lives, or at the very least are content with their current situations and don’t mind just seeing how things will play out in the years to come. Kumiko is not like that. She is desperate for things to change. It is easy for people to say “things will get better,” but when your teens and twenties have already come and gone and things still aren’t better…

Well, you just feel like a failure, and you can’t help but wonder what it is you’re living for. It’s not a happy feeling, having big dreams and struggling to achieve any of them through so many years. Sometimes, you can’t help but wish that reality and fiction could just switch places.

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