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Original Title:
Himitsu no hanazono

Japan 1997


Shinobu Yaguchi

Naomi Nishida
Go Riju
Noriko Tanaka
Kazue Tsunogae
Shinobu Tsuruta
Taketoshi Naito

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My Secret Cache

aka The Secret Garden

Story: Sakiko Suzuki (Naomi Nishida) is an odd young girl. She doesn't have fun doing anything except counting and earning money. Her strange behaviour naturally prevented her from finding any friends.
One day when she accepts a job at a bank, the institute gets robbed and Sakiko is taken as a hostage. The kidnapper drive into the wilderness and die in a car crash. Sakiko, however, can survive thanks to some fortunate circumstances and recovers from her injuries after being hospitalized for several months.
Through the news she learns that the stolen money presumably has gone up in flames together with the wrecked car of the robbers. Sakiko knows better, because she saw the bag with the money on the bottom of a lake. To make out the exact location in the wild seems to be impossible, nevertheless. She asks a professor of geology for help and thereafter registers as a new student.
Sakiko learns how to swim, dive, climb and everything that might help her find the bag one day. Yet, doing so she always gets herself in bizar and strange situations.

Review: "My Secret Cache" is a very well done comedy that shines with a very offbeat kind of humor. Aside from all the comic-like scenes, it's more than anything else the deadpan humor that will charm you. Director Shinobu Yaguchi ("Waterboys") surely has his own style, which is refreshingly inventive and proves that good comedy comes along with originality.

The story is told from the strange girl Sakiko's point of view. Her way of looking at the world gives always occasions for some good laughs, as it seems that there is nothing more important to her than money. If she is invited to drink a cup of coffee, then she prefers to get the money for the coffee instead of actually drinking a cup. Of course, she doesn't make any friends the way she behaves, but the viewer is fascinated by this girl, nonetheless. Naomi Nishida's performance does its share and so Sakiko radiates some incredible charm that you can't elude.
While a few cartoon-like scenes, like when Sakiko falls from the housetop or is intentionally represented by a cheap dummy as she is falling down a waterfall, will definitely make you laugh, it's most of all the characters that make the film so amusing.

Naomi Nishida manages with her expressionless acting to make the most absurd scenes work. She is such a stubborn and purposeful young girl that it's a delight to watch her becoming the best in swimming, diving and climbing only because she has her beloved money in her head. Being so ambitious and having such a strong will, make it impossible for us to imagine that she won't find her bag in the end. Apart from her nearly none existent facial expressions she always smiles delightfully like a dumb potato when she has some money in her hands.

Apart from Sakiko the other actors are also doing a fine job. The several members of the family Suzuki all have their personal pecularities, but when Sakiko every now and then turns sanity and reason upside down then they all are frozen with a bewildered face in unity.
Furthermore, even characters like Edogawa, played by Go Riju have their moments and also the supporting cast, as for example the professor will carry you away with their abstruseness. If the humour of the movie wouldn't have had so much of a deadpan style, then "My Secret Cache" could absolutely be called a real life Anime, that's just how wacky this movie is most of the time.

Director Shinobu Yaguchi doesn't have to make use of any original camera angles etc., but instead captures the events in a very unsophisticated way. Its charm the movie gains because of its humour and the irony that is embedded in the story. Told in an interesting manner, there are nevertheless some landscape shots that will attract your attention. Why the film is accompanied by irish sounds is only one of those questions you are asking yourself for the first ten minutes. After this you are drawn so deep into Sakiko's treasure hunt story, that you feel that the soundtrack is just fitting perfectly.
At the end, the movie even delivers a message. If you are persistent enough in attaining your goal, then you can do everything. Moreover, the ending also has a little surprise for us, because naturally it all resolves differently from what we expected.

"My Secret Cache" is a well done satire on what it means to be "different". With lots of witticism and irony we are introduced in Sakiko's world and have a very jolly time there, even if it is just for a short time. Great situational comedy, absurd moments and an impressive deadpan performance of the main actress will make you laugh out loud more than just a few times. For fans of different/wacky humour this one is a must-see!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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