How far would you go to get the thing you wished for most? That’s the question at the center of The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes, a sad but sweet new fantasy that wisely puts more stock into its characters than it does in trying to explain its fantastical premise.
Not that the fantasy here is nonsensical, but I was pleasantly surprised that the film maintained its focus on the small-scale character story rather than emphasize that fantasy at the expense of it. With solid voice acting, a surprisingly sweet story, and pleasing animation, The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes is a welcome fantasy with a beating heart.
The Story of The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes
Loner teen Kaoru (Oji Suzuka) has had a rough go of it following a family tragedy. With few friends and an unstable home life, he largely keeps to himself, walking aimlessly throughout the day. However, he takes notice when the similarly closed-off Anzu (Marie Iitoyo) transfers to his school.
Following a drunken altercation with his father that night, Kaoru takes a walk and stumbles onto a tunnel that’s said to give any who enter it their greatest wish. Though a week has passed in real time when he exits the tunnel, he decides to go again, this time followed by Anzu, who proposes they work together to determine how time in the tunnel works and get their greatest desires, slowly getting closer over the course of their mission.
The Tunnel To Summer Leads to a Sweet Tale
The Tunnel of Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes doesn’t break the mold, but it does provide a solidly engaging story. Kaoru and Anzu’s relationship builds at a good clip and is allowed to breathe a little without the film slowing down. I could comfortably call this a teen romance alongside a fantasy film given how much of the runtime is spent on our leads’ connection, even if it results in the supporting cast feeling less fleshed out than they could be. It’s not the deepest exploration of loss ever animated, but I’d be lying if I said my heartstrings weren’t tugged by its conclusion.
The fantasy element is also well-handled. The film does a good job explaining just enough of how the tunnel works without losing the air of mystery around it. Every scene in it not only makes us want to spend more time there, but also gives us bits and pieces about our characters to be explained later. Some larger questions about the tunnel remain unanswered, but never anything that disconnects you from the story. Especially in its 3rd act, I was thankful that the film didn’t cave in and explain everything about tunnel, but rather left some things up to our imagination.
The Visuals of Summer
The film also entertains on a visual level. The hand-drawn animation is largely fluid and always pleasing to the eye, drawing you in as its story plays out. The look of the real world alternates between bright yet mundane in sunny scenes and more muted in rainy ones, juxtaposed well with the striking purples of the tunnel. I was also impressed by a fireworks sequence late in the film where the joyful colors of the lights contrast against a sad story Kauru tells Anzu about his past. If it’s playing in a theater near you, the visuals of this film will look fabulous on a large screen and be well worth the ticket price.
The Flaws in The Tunnel To Summer
The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit To Goodbyes is a solidly entertaining film, but I wish more depth could have been afforded to the supporting cast. Kaoru’s other school friend doesn’t add much to the overall story and I wish his father had more screen time to develop the complex relationship the film briefly touches on. As well, while the ending is a good one emotionally, I was slightly fuzzy on the logistics of it for the central relationship in its final moments. Despite an underdeveloped supporting cast, The End of Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes is a solid fantasy drama with a good story, endearing characters, and a sweet undercurrent.
3 out of 5 stars (average)
The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit To Goodbyes is out in theaters in the US. Check it out and share your thoughts with us on social media. Follow us for more content like this, we’re always watching.