Netflix is back with another interesting Anime. So, I thought to myself, “Why not?” and decided to give it a try.

Maboroshi recounts the tale of a small town that was frozen in time due to an explosion. Stuck in a timeless loop, teenagers Masamune (Junya Enoki) and Atsumi (Reina Ueda) as well as other friends bond over their connection formed with a feral child (Misaki Kuno), wrestling with life, love and what it means to be ultimately ageless like this town.

The director/writer is Mari Okada, whom I have never heard of her previous works but this movie is produced by MAPPA studios which are responsible for animes such as Jujutsu Kaisen, Chainsaw Man, and the final season of Attack on Titan. However, until I did some research after watching it, I didn’t know they were involved even though I have come across them at least once being an anime lightweight. In hindsight therefore it really should not have been surprising but this film looks amazing. The artwork is exquisite and shot very cinematically especially in its use of reflections. Okada’s eye particularly caught mine since I would want to see Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms at least.


Regrettably though ,the script is much less consistent throughout .After waiting for sometime however,i found that the relationship between Masamune and Atsumi worked for me. Both are rather reserved in their own way ,but when they eventually bond over who they later named Itsumi,I was taken into that aspect of the story by the time it ended.

However before really delving into that part of the film there was one overwhelming thought i had about what i was seeing “Everything about this movie seems strange.” The group dynamics between friends versus classmates seemed weird. We begin with Masamune and his friends and spend a good portion of the first 15 minutes with them, where their discussions about hormones and crushes seemed weird, at least somewhat true to life. However, when we do return to this friend group and the rest of the classmates it is not done frequently enough for some emotional moments with that group to work in the way that the movie wants.

What does not help is how the film is partially framed. From time to time we cut away to Masamune working on an assignment about his future — ironic for students trapped in an ageless time — but while I see its point by the end, it breaks up the story narrative a little oddly in between. This assignment cutting kind of ruins the flow and pacing of this movie because I went from getting what it wanted me to think about next, immediately becoming confused at what this recurring narrative device was doing.

It is not always bad when there is a mystery that is weird. This weirdness means potential for fascination and the desire to find out what lies beneath the surface. For heaven sake, I was caught by it at the outset. People have an inborn curiosity to know things. In this case, however, this strangeness is repugnant. Initially, it’s difficult to grasp time flow properly. One of such clues can be found in Palm Springs where no mention of how long this has been happening but there are contexts which inform us as time goes by. In this instance though this clue turns around and we are eventually told how we can arrive at the answer after about an hour or more of being uncertain on how I should place myself with respect to time changes. Concerning resolving the mystery itself, I didn’t really get what “Sacred Machine” was about and other thoughts suggested early on are dismantled. This means that by the time we finally got to hear exactly why there had been a stoppage on time, I had already become disinterested in finding out what was happening.

Yet my experience ended up similarly frustrating me with another anime project completely. Here, a story that wanders too much off course despite its interesting fantasy setting and impressive visuals proved disappointing when the climax came; it could have been better if delivered differently though.

Watch From Up on Poppy Hill on Kisscartoon

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