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Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror

Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror is an engaging kids film that is likely to fall a little flat for older viewers.

There will be some spoilers ahead, but most viewers will guess these in advance anyway.

The Set Up and the Characters

Oblivion Island casts kitsune [1] in the role of Borrowers [2] living in another world [3] and raiding ours for “neglected possessions”.

Haruka is a lonely 16 year old girl still grieving for her mother, and somewhat distanced from her salaryman father. Haruka stumbles into Oblivion Island in search of a long lost hand mirror that her mother gave her as a child.

Teo is the fox spirit who accidentally shows Haruka the entrance to Oblivion Island and is then drafted by Haruka into helping with the search [4]

The Formula

This is all pretty formulaic stuff, and as soon as I saw the bad guy appear I knew that Teo’s arc was essentially going to be RJ’s from Over the Hedge.

Haruka’s arc is, naturally, about the importance of memories and family. The neglected possessions taken by the kitsune become a metaphor for neglected emotions and feelings.

Wrap it all up in some very pretty CGI, and a few really neat action scenes, and you’re done [5].


This is a very pretty film to look at, although the CGI for the characters felt a little limited in terms of emotional expression. There was a sense of the Uncanny Valley about Haruka, but not as bad as I feared from the cover.

I picked this film up because I expect character CGI to become more prevalent in anime over the next few years. That said if this is the best the anime industry can do for cinema release then I’m not looking forward to its adoption for TV anime.

The Verdict

Despite my concerns about the approach, Oblivion Island held my attention throughout, and delivered a satisfying final confrontation with suitably spectacular visuals and appropriately loud bangs.

Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror is worth seeing at least once, but will definitely work better for younger viewers that won’t find it quite so predictable. There is a dub on the local Madman release, but I haven’t listened to it.

Day 1 – New Kimagure Orange Road: Summer’s Beginning (1996)
Day 2 – Naruto Shippuden The Movie (2002)
Day 3 – Galaxy Express 999 (1979)
Day 4 – Steamboy (2004)
Day 5 – Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)
Day 6 – Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Day 7 – Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Day 8 – Ah! My Goddess: The Movie (2000)
Day 9 – Summer Wars (2009)
Day 10 – Macross: Do You Remember Love? (1984)
Day 11 – Silent Mobius I (1991) & II (1992)
Day 12 – Space Firebird 2772 (1980)
Day 13 – Junkers Come Here (1994)
Day 14 – Whisper of the Heart (1995)
Day 15 – Patlabor: The Movie (1989)
Day 16 – Card Captor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card
Day 17 – Millennium Actress
Day 18 – Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror
Day 19 – ???
Day 20 – ???

[1] Kitsune are the traditional Japanese fox spirits.

[2] As in the books by Mary Norton and/or the Ghibli film Arietty.

[3] It is kind of a side dimension, Narnia Time applies.

[4] Teo is initially hoping that Haruka will just go away. Haruka is made of sterner stuff than that so Teo is out of luck to begin with.

[5] With bonus points for keeping it to a relatively short 90 minutes.