My Secret Cache

From a young age, the only thing Sakiko Suzuki (Naomi Nishida; Train_Man, Honey & Clover) cared about was money. Naturally, her family suggested she take her passion for counting and playing with money to find a job working at a bank. But counting other people’s money just wasn’t as fun as having it herself. Bored with her job, Sakiko wishes the bank would get robbed and she could be taken as a hostage… Be careful what you wish for, because it can come true. Taken hostage and thrown into the trunk of a car, along with a briefcase full of money, Sakiko starts to worry about what could happen to her when the robbers run the vehicle off a cliff in the Aokigahara wilderness. Sakiko and the briefcase are thrown clear and into the river before the car explodes. Sakiko is found safe-but-injured from the ordeal. The briefcase, on the other hand, remains missing with 500 million yen stuffed inside, and only Sakiko knows where it’s disappeared to. Director Shinobu Yaguchi’s (Waterboys) comedic story of a lazy girl who will do anything to get her hands on the lost 500 million yen is finally in English as My Secret Cache from Geneon Entertainment. 

DVD: My Secret Cache
Release Date: 8/8/2006
Release Studio: Geneon Entertainment

MSRP: $29.98
Audio: Japanese 2.0 DD
Subtitles: English
Episodes: 1
Runtime: 83mins
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Foreign Film Favorites Previews

Notes: Review is based on a Screener copy of the final product.

Sakiko has always been terrible at dealing with other people. When a boy would ask her for a date, Sakiko would reply that she would rather just have the money he was going to spend. Her friends never understood her passion for money, and this left Sakiko fairly alone with the exception of her odd family. After surviving her kidnapping and recovery, Sakiko learns that the robbers’ stolen money was never found and is believed to have been blown up with the car. However, Sakiko knows that the money got stuck underwater in one of the many underwater caves in the Aokigahara wilderness. Nagging her family to take her back, Sakiko drags her grumpy sister and parents along for her hiking trip into the woods. Unfortunately, a sudden rainstorm keeps the Suzuki family from getting anywhere near the final goal. The family decides to go back home, but Sakiko sneaks away to go hike through the woods on her own for the money.

For four days Sakiko wanders, lost and abused by mother nature in the wilderness. It seems that the Aokigahara wilderness is famous for being very treacherous to hike through and is a popular location for suicide attempts. Once again found and rescued, Sakiko recovers from her injuries and tries to use it as an excuse to avoid work. A TV news report talks about how dangerous Aokigahara is and how Professor Morita of Tamagawa University is an expert on the region. Sakiko decides to pay the professor a visit, and he suggests that Sakiko study geology at the university if she wants to be able to reach her underwater cave. Spending money for probably the first time ever, Sakiko empties her bank account to enroll at Tamagawa University. The Geology department is an easy program and a rather dead subject for most of the attending students, but Sakiko is determined to learn everything she needs to know to get her secret cache of 500 million yen waiting for her. The professor’s assistant, Edogawa (Go Riju), takes an interest in the weird girl. Edogawa’s ex-girlfriend Itami pulls Sakiko aside to warn her that Edogawa easily falls in love with every woman he meets. With Sakiko unphased by the warning, Itami is determined to put in some effort to make Sakiko’s life harder.

Swimming, scuba diving, rock climbing, geological surveys, and even how to drive a car are on Sakiko’s list of things-to-do before she can retrieve the money. Sakiko turns out to be such a dedicated student in the Geology department that she’s offered a scholarship to coninue next year. Unfortunately, Sakiko has already run out of money for this year, with all the items and classes she’s been purchasing. Sakiko tries calling her family for money with no success. She takes up waiting tables in a lingiere pub, but that leaves her having to drop out of college. Desperate for money to keep studying, Sakiko joins different contests to win money to pay for all the different classes she needs to take. And as Edogawa keeps coming into Sakiko’s life more and more, the professor’s assistant starts to fall hard for the plain-looking Sakiko. Of course, this doesn’t make Itami happy at all. Itami tries to follow Sakiko everywhere, including joining the pool clubhouse to swim and stalk Sakiko.

My Secret Cache is an amusing tale about a girl who will do anything to get closer to retrieving the lost 500 million yen. Not a single person around her seems to really understand that she will do anything to get money and especially what will help her get the missing briefcase of money. The slightest suggetion of something new to learn and Sakiko will dive head-first into the subject to be able to use it to her advantage. For the love of money, Sakiko Suzuki is simply unstoppable. The casting isn’t too bad, with Naomi Nishida taking the plain-jane look to heart as she plays the straight woman pursing money to everyone else’s comedic reactions. A good mixture of sight gags and slapstick are sprinkled throughout the film to keep it from getting boring. The ending is kind of predictable, but silly enough to fit Sakiko’s personality.

My Secret Cache is a light comedy and probably not the first thing that comes to mind when looking for a new title. However, Shinbu Yaguchi has a good sense of timing to make the film flow. The video looks very crisp with the anamorphic picture, and the subtitles are error-free. Some of the signs in the background, like Sakiko’s child-like drawing of where the briefcase is located, could use some subtitles, but this will not impede any understanding or enjoyment of the movie. The related DVD extras are limited to the original theatrical trailer. My Secret Cache is an amusing film and worth a rental at the very least. Naomi Nishida proves herself to be worthy of carrying a film almost entirely on her own, though I wouldn’t mind seeing her in a more yakuza-type role with longer hair, as her serious look can be downright scary.