maboroshi review: Heart-warming anime struggles on the sci-fi end

In maboroshi, the residents of a town forever stuck in a time freeze navigate life, hoping one day they will return to normalcy. The movie is now streaming on Netflix.


An explosion at the steel factory in the small town of Mifuse changes the lives of the townspeople forever.

Cracks appear in the sky, which are cleared by smoke coming from the factory in the shape of a wolf’s head.

The biggest takeaway is that the town is stuck in a time freeze. The children are not growing old, the elders awaiting their deaths won’t be dying, and the pregnant women have to carry their unborn child forever.

Fourteen-year-old Masamune Kikuiri misses everything he could have gotten to see and be in the real world.

In this bleak world, Masamune’s classmate, Mutsumi, invites Masamune to take care of a girl confined at the factory.

Soon, Masamune comes to know that this girl is connected to everything happening in their town.


maboroshi skillfully crafts an incredibly poignant atmosphere that immerses viewers in the emotional struggles of characters weary of life in a static world.

While not being able to grow old sounds like a fun idea at first, the challenges one can face are portrayed in such a way that a viewer will soon find the idea terrifying.

The narrative paints a vivid picture of diverse hardships, from an elderly man grappling with daily challenges to a woman unable to experience the joys of childbirth.

Each character faces a unique struggle within the confines of the static world.

maboroshi also successfully creates a small town that hits viewers with nostalgia. It has a sense of peace, and by the end, a palpable yearning for the town is cultivated among viewers.

Lastly, the film successfully handles the romances. It draws viewers into rooting for Masamune and Mutsumi to come together, and when they do, it perfectly clicks.

Masamune and Mutsumi aside, even the other romances in the film, including the heartbreaks, are portrayed with depth and sincerity.


Where maboroshi struggles is with the sci-fi part of the film. It fails to make a viewer understand the world the characters are living in and the twists around it in one go.

Even when the explosion happens and the characters get trapped, the film doesn’t do anything concrete to suggest the shift has happened.

The viewers have to notice the small details or the characters have to explain the situation for the viewer to understand.


maboroshi is not the strongest anime film when it comes to the sci-fi genre, with romance primarily eclipsing it.

The film struggles to convey the nature of the trapped world in one go, leaving only romance to do some heavy lifting.

maboroshi review: Heart-warming anime struggles on the sci-fi end 1

Director: Mari Okada

Date Created: 2024-01-15 13:30

Editor's Rating:

Also Read: maboroshi summary and ending explained

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