The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes is an Anime film released on September 9, 2022. It tells a story about overcoming inner weaknesses, coming to terms with loss and pain, and carrying on with hope. To achieve this, the main characters encounter a supernatural force that helps them realize what’s truly important. This force takes the form of a “Urashima Tunnel,” giving them back what they’ve lost in exchange for everything they currently possess, swept away by the passage of time. Yes, it’s another story of a character realizing that what they’ve gained is far more valuable than what they’ve lost, and it’s not worth losing everything to reclaim things from the past. However, the overall presentation of the story is compelling enough to make this movie worth watching.
In terms of visuals, we’ve witnessed something quite similar: the exquisitely drawn background pulsating with life yet tinged with desolation due to the characters’ melancholic mindset, the soundtrack adeptly conveying their emotional states, and the ambient sounds echoing the emptiness within their hearts at the start of the movie. Right from the beginning, it becomes apparent how much detail and care are infused into every scene. The protagonist, Kaoru Touno, walks in the rain, holding an umbrella and wearing earphones, listening to a song that we’ve been hearing since he turned it on. This moment is executed with delightful and playful finesse. He arrives at the train station just as the song concludes, leading to a fateful encounter where, amidst it all, the sunflowers appear withered. Enter our second main character, Anzu Hanashiro. Their connection begins to spark due to a shared element within them, forming a chemistry that binds them together.
The Terrifying Aspect of the Passage of Time
In a subsequent scene, Kaoru runs away from his problems instead of facing them as usual and stumbles upon another fateful encounter: the Urashima Tunnel. Accidentally wandering inside, he discovers his deceased pet bird and a sandal belonging to his late younger sister. The interior of the tunnel is a visual feast: the entrance takes on a triangular shape, suggesting a path leading to a dead end, while the floor is submerged in water up to ankle level, resembling the aftermath of rain. Autumn leaves scatter around, and pillars adorned with bismuth-like crystals line the path on both sides. It’s within this eerie ambiance that a profoundly unsettling scene unfolds, echoing existential dread. What would I do if everyone around me passed away with only me stuck in time? The scene where Kaoru looks back after entering the tunnel with Anzu and sees her patiently waiting… and waiting… and keeps on waiting for Kaoru to come back, spending all that time all alone. It’s unfathomably horrifying. And the scene conveys those aspects very well.
The story is pretty short and simple: The main casts must come to terms with their issues and move forward in their lives. However, the film’s strength lies in its storytelling approach. The title The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes (Natsu e no Tunnel, Sayonara no Deguchi in Japanese) mirrors the essence of the Urashima Tunnel: a pathway leading to an eternal summer, where goodbyes need not be uttered. Nevertheless, certain aspects could have been further refined. With a runtime of only 1 hour and 22 minutes, the movie could only explore a limited aspect of the story. Despite this, some elements fell short. Kaoru has his inner demons to conquered which personified in the form of his abusive father. While he only bad mouths him in his absence in front of Anzu, but he never faces him head on and speaks his mind about him. Instead, he escapes into the tunnel once again, only to realize that it can only restore what was lost, not fulfill wishes. Within the tunnel, he must confront the loss of Anzu and the deep bond they shared, a realization aligned with what his late sister would have wished for him.
In Anzu‘s case, her demeanor leans toward being anti-social, and she prefers to be a loner. On the first day at school, she got into a fight with another girl in class. This conflict is resolved quite easily when the girl apologizes to Anzu, and they make amends without much drama or tension. There wasn’t much drama or tension or back and forth. Anzu also grapples with low self-esteem. This arc of her character was actually done right due to Kaoru‘s intervention. His parting words and her longing to see him again motivate her to persevere. Even after Kaoru leaves, Anzu never gives up on him and continues sending him text messages. When these messages finally reach Kaoru inside the tunnel, he is inundated with a flood of messages telling Anzu‘s struggles, her graduation from school and college, her pursuit of her dreams, and how much she misses him. The massage of love breaks the barrier of time and reunites them once again.
In the beginning, when the two first met, it was raining, the sunflowers wilted, and Kaoru lent his umbrella to Anzu before they parted ways. When they reunite, it rains again, but this time it’s a cloudburst with sunshine grazing the world. The sunflowers have bloomed, and they share the same umbrella that Anzu had kept close all those years. A lot of time has passed, but the unresolved emotion finally mends. As the story progresses, the once bleak and gray world gradually transforms into a vibrant and lively one as Kaoru and Anzu spend time together, experiment with the tunnel, and enjoy moments of casual fun.
About The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes
The movie was adapted from Japanese light novel written by Mei Hachimoku and illustrated by Kukka. It was published on July 18, 2019 and received a manga adaptation in with the title The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes: Ultramarine and illustrated by Koudon. It had a runtime from July 18, 2020 to November 19, 2021 with four volumes released. Then we have the movie by studio CLAP released on September 9, 2022 with the runtime of 1 hour 22 minutes.
The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes is one of those stories that hurts you with time in a circumstance where two beloved persons cannot be together. They are pulled apart by an outside intervention, be it be a supernatural force or unfair system of the society, but a glimmer of hope remains for those who persist. The movie sure has some short comings, as explained before. But its visual storytelling cannot be overlooked. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s a solid 7 out of 10.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope y’all take care of yourselves ♡.