“Goodbye, Don Glees!” is an anime film produced by Madhouse and directed by Atsuko Ishizuka, released in 2022. It tells the tale of three teenagers going on an adventure to find their treasure and discover many things along the way. The trio, being part of the group they named Don Glees, saying farewell to their group derived the title of this movie. But what is it really about? What is the movie trying to convey? Does it live up to its name? We’re about to analyze it and find out.
“Goodbye, Don Glees!” Plot
“Goodbye, Don Glees!” unfolds a heartfelt narrative centered around the bonds of friendship and the pursuit of personal treasures. The story begins with the childhood friendship between Toto Mitarai and Roma Kamogawa, who form the Don Glees club. As the narrative progresses, we witness their reunion and the addition of Drop Sakuma to the group. The trio embarks on a journey to retrieve a lost drone, setting off a chain of events that tests their friendship. The plot combines elements of adventure, self-discovery, and the importance of cherishing moments and connections.
Beneath the Surface of “Goodbye, Don Glees!”
I do wonder what this movie is actually about. Toto and Roma form the group Don Glees, and after Toto leaves, Drop joins in. They engage in a bunch of mischievous activities as kids usually do: Hanging out at their base, goofing around, collecting stuff, etc. Toto returns during a break and finds they are up to something. Roma spends all his savings on a drone to record the fireworks from the sky, and Toto becomes suspicious of Drop, as if he’s mooching off of Roma. The drone gets lost during the recording at night, a fire spreads due to the fireworks in the forest, and Don Glees packs up to recover the drone since it recorded what happened during the fireworks. They get lost, lose some of their stuff, have a breakdown, and finally set aside their differences. Little did we know, just like Roma and Toto, that Drop has a short while to live, and he wants his friends to witness his last feat. After Drop’s passing, the two go on to find Drop’s treasure that he hinted at on the coke bottles and manage to find it, including unveiling the mystery of the hidden golden waterfall with a phone booth at the bottom. Drop’s farewell to Don Glees entailed the story.
Of course, without a meaning and message behind the story it’s pointless. Although the movie shows a lot of elements, it fails to flash them out properly.
Goodbye Don Glees characters
The main characters in “Goodbye, Don Glees!” grapple with inner weaknesses that they must overcome. We catch a glimpse of Roma’s struggle against school bullies, Toto’s endeavor to mature and change for the better, and Drop’s quest to find his treasure. Their journey into the unknown, searching for the lost drone, toughens them, provides clarity, and helps them conquer their weaknesses. However, their development seems incomplete. Roma never stands up to the bullies or proves anything; he simply ignores them, similar to the start of the movie. Although he sends a message to his school crush, who is abroad, he refrains from confessing to her.
Toto, on the other hand, undergoes significant development. Initially uptight and insecure, he learns to loosen up and grasp what truly matters. His change in haircut at the end symbolizes this transformation, and his resolve to become a doctor strengthens after Drop’s passing.
Lastly, Drop‘s quest to find his treasure, essentially his friends, unfolds quite predictably. In Iceland, he embarks on a journey to locate a golden waterfall with a working phone booth at the bottom. Answering a call from Roma and Toto, which they mistakenly sent, leads him to Japan. Drop discovers kindred spirits similar to his friends and desires their presence for his final feat. Ironically, he gives up halfway during the search for the lost drone but regains determination after hearing Roma’s speech about the regret of giving up. This feels shallow and uninspired, especially when coupled with searching for a lost drone as his concluding act—a peculiar choice for someone contemplating his death for years and finding resolution after a persuasive talk. If Drop already found his treasure, his friends, what more was there to explore? Did he rediscover it after the speech? Why did he give up after proposing the idea to search for the drone? Drop’s character remains confused throughout, and the climax of finally finding the drone in a montage doesn’t do justice to the moment, further diminishing Drop’s resolution. While the drone finding wasn’t as important as realizing the real treasure, the narrative failed to convey that appropriately.
Uncovering Treasure & Connection
“Goodbye, Don Glees!” alludes to finding connections and forging bonds that act as the true treasure. The trio might have set out to search for their lost drone but discovered something genuine during that journey. In the beginning, Roma murmurs about Yggdrasil, a mythical tree connecting all the worlds, hinting at the connection with Drop all the way to Iceland. Drop also mentions that there are people living in all countries; it’s not that big of a deal. What doesn’t make sense is the working phone booth under the golden waterfall. Is it supposed to be something supernatural? It still wasn’t explained how and why Roma & Toto’s call reached there exactly when Drop was at that very spot. Additionally, the unknown caller at the end when Roma & Toto make it there still remains a mystery. They made it seem like the audience would find out, but after looking into it for a while, I couldn’t discover any other deeper meaning behind it all. Moreover, the movie shifts tone on a whim, which feels off-putting.
Goodbye Don Glees Review
Other than its shortcomings, “Goodbye, Don Glees!” stands out due to its impressive production quality. The art and environment are brimming with details, complemented by expressive character animations and design. It genuinely feels like a down-to-earth anime that anyone can appreciate. The film also features its fair share of humorous moments. The different locations the characters visit are refreshing to see and lift the moment a bit. However, as mentioned, it shifts tone abruptly, disrupting the overall mood. Most of the time, I found it dull due to the slow pacing. The climactic moments fail to deliver as intended since everything felt predictable. Even though I was often confused about where the story was heading and got lost a few times, the movie’s final moment had a good element, but it didn’t feel earned. As mentioned earlier, the characters also fail to shine, and the OST feels generic. The 2-hour length for a movie with a short message did feel like a drag.
Production of “Goodbye, Don Glees!”
“Goodbye, Don Glees!” is directed and written by Atsuko Ishizuka who is known for A Place Further than the Universe, No Game No Life, Chihayafuru, Monster, and many more legendary works. The movie is produced by studio Madhouse, which is also responsible for the aforementioned Anime. Music was composed by Yoshiaki Fujisawa and the main theme song is “Rock the World” performed by Alexandros. The movie was released in February 18, 2022 in Japan and September 14, 2022 worldwide by GKIDS. It received mostly positive reviews on some sites such as IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.
“Goodbye, Don Glees!” is filled with joy, delight, sadness, self-discovery, adventure, and heartfelt moments. It aspired to be much more, but due to some narrative shortcomings, it fell short. The movie is enjoyable for what it offers, yet I wish it were better assembled to present a complete story instead of feeling like different elements stitched together. Studio Madhouse was in a slump at that moment, so some understanding is warranted. However, they redeemed themselves with Frieren, a topic of much broader discussion. For now, “Goodbye, Don Glees!” receives a 6.5 out of 10 from me.