reading: Alice and Therese’s Illusion Factory review

Title: アリスとテレスのまぼろし工場 (Arisu to teresu no maboroshi koujou) 1


The film centers on third-year middle school student Masamune, who lives in a town where time has stopped because a sudden explosion at a steelworks factory has sealed off all exits to the town. In order to hopefully one day return to normal, the residents of the town are forbidden from changing, and they live out their gloomy everyday lives. Masamune’s enigmatic classmate [Mutsumi] leads him one day to the fifth blast furnace of the steelworks factory, and there they meet a girl who is wild like a wolf and who cannot talk. The meeting of Masamune and these two girls upsets the balance of the world. The unstoppable “love impulse” of the boys and girls who are tired of their everyday lives begins to destroy the world. (from Anime News Network)

My thoughts:

This novel is an adaptation of an as-yet unreleased film of the same title, scheduled to release in September 2023. The director, and the author of this novelization, is OKADA Mari, who worked on projects like Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, and O Maidens in Your Savage Season. In general, Okada tends towards emotionally charged drama, and this story is no different. The setup is perhaps confusing. It takes a good amount of time before we meet the “wild girl”, and even more time before we really find out what’s going on. I think that’s slightly to its detriment. However, the ending does tie things up nicely, and there are a lot of hints about what’s really going on throughout. Hopefully the film doesn’t take too long to release in America.












Masamune ends up naming the girl Itsumi (deriving her name from Mutsumi’s name, since the “mu” in 睦実 sounds like “six” and the “i” in 五実 is “five”), and Mutsumi and Masamune begin taking care of her. They find out some of the townspeople have actually known about her the whole time, seeing her as a “divine girl” who is connected to the existence of the town. One day, Masamune and the others decide to have a test of courage in a railway tunnel, and a half-confession turns into drama - then one of the girls suddenly sprouts growing cracks and is eaten by a wolf of smoke (I don’t know how to describe this; see 1:03 in the trailer above). This sets off a chain of events where they learn that their world is an illusion. Those who stop believing end up disappearing in this way. The ‘real world’ shines through those cracks; in the real world, the factory is abandoned and things are quite different. In fact, they eventually realize Itsumi is actually the daughter of the real-world Masamune and Mutsumi, and her real name is Saki (沙希). She ran away during the Bon Festival after a fight with her parents, and somehow ended up here, while her real-world parents desperately search for her for years. In the end, Masamune and Mutsumi try to find a way to send Saki back to the real world, in a desperate race before their illusory world meets its end. Saki doesn’t really want to go, having fallen in love with Masamune (although I don’t think this is romantic love). Masamune and Mutsumi end up together in the illusory world, too.

What wasn’t clear in my reading is how and why the illusory world came to be, and how Saki/Itsumi made her way there. I probably missed it since my Japanese is just awful. Also, I’m fairly certain the Alice and Therese in the title are never explained. They are only mentioned a single time in the actual novel:



I’m hoping the movie, together with actual subtitles, can clear all this up.

  1. The title translation is not confirmed. It appears the studio is calling it just “Maboroshi” in English.