Australian Council on Children and the Media

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

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Not recommended under 8; parental guidance recommended 8-15 due to disturbing scenes and themes. Lacks interest for viewers under 15

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Kumiko the Treasure Hunter
  • a review of Kumiko the Treasure Hunter completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 June 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes
Children 8 to 15 Children over the age of 8 could see this film with parental guidance but it generally lacks interest for anyone under the age of 15. The first half of the film is in Japanese with subtitles.
Viewers aged 15 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.

Name of movie: Kumiko the Treasure Hunter
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and brief bloody scenes
Length 105 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) is a 29 year old office worker in a job she hates, with a boss she despises. She is unable to relate to her former friends, her workmates or her mother. The only “friend” she appears to have is her pet rabbit. After finding a video of the movie Fargo hidden in a cave off the coast of Tokyo, Kumiko becomes obsessed with finding the money that one of the characters buries by a fence in a snowy field in Minnesota. Despite the fact that this is only a scene in a movie, Kumiko believes that the money is real, that it is still there, and that she is destined to find it.

Kumiko leaves her job and sets out for Minnesota, hopeful, determined and completely unprepared for what she will find there. Along the way she meets a few strangers who simultaneously try to help her and yet also steer her away from her dream of getting to Fargo. Ultimately alone, and by sheer force of will, she finds her way to the fence from the movie and there discovers something far more important and powerful than money.

Themesinfo

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.

Although it is never openly discussed, Kumiko appears to be suffering from severe depression and social anxiety. The notion of mental illness runs throughout the film.

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:

  • Scenes from the movie Fargo are shown in which a man sits in his car, covered in blood from an apparent wound on his neck as he rifles through a case of money. He is later shown, still bloody, burying the case in the snow.
  • Kumiko believes she sees a case of money frozen beneath a lake. She begins to hack at the ice with a stick and later her hands. By the time she breaks through the surface and discovers that it is only a large piece of wood, her hands are completely cut up and blood is all over the ice and water.

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Kumiko looks like a big, shadowy, blob as she stands in the middle of an ice field wrapped in a blanket. There is extremely loud, dramatic, music which adds to the scariness of the scene.
  • As Kumiko wanders through a forest at night, still draped in a blanket, her face looks distorted in the light of the flashlight. There is suspenseful music and she starts to look scary and frostbitten as she staggers through the shadowy forest.

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:

  • Kumiko decides to set her rabbit free. She takes him to a park and tells him to go and be free as she has to leave to do important things. The rabbit doesn’t go so she yells and screams at him to leave. He doesn’t. She then takes him to the subway and it looks as if she has changed her mind and is bringing him home but then she leaves him on the train and rushes out through the doors just before it leaves the station. The rabbit is shown on a seat pricking his ears looking startled and apprehensive as the train races away. Kumiko is shown crying. Sensitive children may be distressed by this scene.

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.

Some of the younger children in this age group may find some of the above scenes disturbing

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • The book Shogun
  • The movie Fargo

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Kumiko’s boss asks her if she is a homosexual.
  • A local sheriff explains to Kumiko that a statue used to be anatomically correct but that someone shot the privates off with a 12 gauge shotgun.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some mild sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Kumiko kisses the sheriff after he says that he will help her. He pulls back and tells her that he has a wife and two kids and that he is only doing his job. Kumiko runs away.

Use of substances

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • One use of “shit”.
  • Kumiko yells at a dog calling it “fool” or “idiot” in Japanese.

In a nutshell

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is a slow-paced look at one woman’s life. The first half of the movie is in Japanese with English subtitles. The film is intended for a mature audience may appeal to anyone with an interest in Japan or the Japanese language. It may also appeal to academics or anyone more interested in cinematography as opposed to plot or storyline.

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

  • Determination, dedication, persistence and the ability to believe in yourself despite everyone telling you that you are wrong or that what you want is impossible.

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

  • Dishonesty and lack of responsibility. Kumiko is often late for work and generally looks and acts as if both miserable and disinterested. She spits in the boss’s tea, puts his dry cleaning in a rubbish bin and uses the company credit card for her own personal needs, yet no consequences are ever shown. She is only told that work is not happy with her.
  • Wandering alone in the wilderness during a Minnesota winter with nothing but a blanket over a jacket to protect her from the elements is both dangerous and unrealistic. Kumiko sleeps outside one night and awakens refreshed in the morning yet in real life the more likely outcome would have been death.

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