In maboroshi, Masamune and his friends are living in a town frozen in time, hoping that one day everything will go back to normal.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Fourteen-year-old Masamune Kikuiri and his friends experience a sudden power outage in their town, Mifuse, as they witness the local steel factory exploding.
This event transforms the lives of the residents of Mifuse forever, leading to strange occurrences such as cracks in the sky, which are repaired by a mysterious smoke from the factory resembling a wolf, which is later called the Sacred Wolf.
The people of Mifuse find themselves trapped in a timeless freeze, with children unable to age, elderly individuals unable to die, and pregnant women unable to give birth.
Masamune and his friends navigate this bizarre reality, playing games that should hurt them, and feeling numb to their surroundings.
However, hope remains that one day everything will return to normal, and residents are cautioned against changing themselves, anticipating potential challenges if they return to the real world.
Masamune’s life takes a turn when classmate Mutsumi Sagami introduces him to a girl named Itsumi, resembling Mutsumi herself. Itsumi is being kept captive at the factory.
Mutsumi’s father, Mr. Mamoru Sagami, believes they are facing divine punishment, with the steel factory turning into a Sacred Machine of the gods.
Masamune later overhears Sagami saying that the Sacred Machine has attracted Itsumi to the town. There is possibly a reason why Itsumi has been confined here.
The townspeople make a grave discovery when a girl in love with Masamune receives cracks on her body and is erased by the Sacred Wolf.
This event takes place once this girl confesses her feelings for Masamune, finds out that he likes Mutsumi, and claims that she can’t handle this world anymore.
The residents of the town are now forced to keep their emotions in check if they want to survive.
Masamune blames himself for this girl’s death and desires to break free from this existence and return to the real world.
In his attempts to liberate Itsumi, Masamune discovers the existence of a real world beyond the cracks in the sky.
Following Masamune’s discovery, Sagami reveals to the townspeople that they are living in a fake world and are phantoms.
Sagami confined Itsumi to protect their world, as she has some connection with the Sacred Machine. However, despite keeping her captive, the cracks have continued to appear, which means there is no saving this world.
The residents, grappling with their emotions, continue their lives in the face of an impending end.
Masamune sees reality through a crack and learns that in the real world, he and Mutsumi are married, and Itsumi is their daughter in this alternate reality.
Despite knowing this, Mutsumi chooses not to explore this reality further, as they exist in separate worlds.
Eventually, Masamune and Mutsumi confront their feelings, sharing a kiss witnessed by Itsumi.
Itsumi has fallen in love with Masamune. Her heartbreak shatters the world of Mifuse, causing massive cracks and rainfall for the first time in a while.
The Sacred Wolf disappears, and the town teeters on the brink of destruction if it merges with reality.
Back home, Masamune’s mother hands him his father’s journal, which sheds light on Itsumi’s mysterious origins.
His father, Akimune, who also worked at the steel factory, recounts finding a young girl on a freight train. He speculates that the train brought her from the real world to their current existence.
Despite the world’s inexplicable physics, Akimune believes there is a possibility for Itsumi to return home through the same train.
Itsumi’s emotions significantly influence their world, a revelation Akimune had grasped. However, Mr. Sagami opted to confine her to safeguard their reality.
Moreover, Akimune makes a startling discovery: Itsumi is his granddaughter. This revelation comes to light when he sees the tag on her backpack, which includes her name and a family photo.
Sending Itsumi to reality
Akimune’s journal notes that in this timeless world, individuals have the potential to evolve and change.
Akimune has seen his son, Masamune, indulge in drawing and improve over time. Although Masamune feels he might not be getting anywhere with it, his hobby provides a sense of vitality in this stagnant environment.
Akimune and Sagami’s decisions denied Itsumi the opportunity for growth and change. Akimune also wanted to change, but he didn’t.
Akimune met his end once cracks appeared on his body, prompting the Sacred Wolf to erase him from existence.
Akimune’s journal serves as inspiration for Masamune to endeavor to send Itsumi back home.
However, Itsumi, having formed strong bonds with Masamune and Mutsumi, no longer desires to return.
Complicating matters, figures like Sagami and even Masamune’s uncle, Tokimune, emerge as obstacles in Masamune’s mission.
Intriguingly, Tokimune harbors romantic interests in Masamune’s mother within this world and seeks to revive the Sacred Wolf to safeguard this chance.
The result of sending Itsumi home
The town of Mifuse witnesses the emergence of larger cracks that show the real world beyond.
Masamune and Mutsumi see a train on the tracks and devise a plan to escort Itsumi onto it. Mutsumi boards the train with Itsumi to prevent any objections.
However, Mutsumi explains to Itsumi that Masamune will need her when they eventually fade away together. Hence, she needs to go. She also tells her that people await her in the real world.
Following this, Mutsumi departs the train, rejoining Masamune, while Itsumi embarks on the journey to the real world.
Despite Tokimune’s successful revival of the Sacred Wolves, Masamune, Mutsumi, and their friends achieve their goal.
Notably, Mutsumi hears the cries of a baby, suggesting the possibility that they have entered their own real world after sending Itsumi home.
In the years that follow, a grown-up Itsumi revisits the desolate Mifuse, wandering through the places she once knew.