“While stories with happy endings often perform better at the box office, the stories that become immortal are the great tragedies. They are larger-than-life stories that make us cry until we’re dehydrated, as if there is nothing else in the world but what’s happening on screen. It’s something quite normal if we think about it. Happy stories satisfy us in the moment, but sad stories leave us with deep wounds. And a specialist in the latter is the screenwriter and director, Mari Okada.”
Mari Okada is the screenwriter of famous anime such as Toradora!, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, and Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. In addition, in 2018, she made her directorial debut by writing and directing “Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms,” an absolutely captivating fantasy film. Although it went relatively unnoticed in the West, it was a critical and commercial success in Asia and had a strong presence in the animation festival circuit.
Now, her next film has been announced, titled “Alice to Therese no Maboroshi Kōjō,” which can be translated as “Alice and Therese’s Illusion Factory.” She promises a story that is no less fantastical and certainly not less emotionally charged.
The movie focuses on a teenager named Masamune who lives in a town that has been isolated from the rest of the world due to an explosion at a steel factory. To prevent any further changes and perhaps one day return to normalcy, all the town’s inhabitants are forbidden from changing themselves. This leads to a monotonous and depressing life that changes when Masamune and a classmate named Mutsumi discover a feral girl inside the factory that exploded in the past. They are driven by their adolescent impulses, leading the town towards the destruction of the world.
With a release date in Japan set for September 15th, it will have to compete with the latest Miyazaki film. But if anyone can compete with the master, it’s Mari Okada and her perhaps sad, but undoubtedly memorable stories about love and memory.