After watching so much action and comedy anime, it’s good to cleanse the palate every now and then with something different, such as slice-of-life titles and the like. Our friends at Sentai were kind enough to send over a screener for their latest theatrical release titled The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes. If you enjoy romance stories with just a touch of sci-fi, you’ll want to enter this tunnel of summer excitement.
The story follows the life a young man named Kaoru Touno, a high school student in a rural town in Japan who mainly keeps to himself after sadly losing his young sister in an accident some years ago and dealing with an abusive, alcoholic father. One day while waiting for a train on a rainy day, Kaoru meets a young lady named Anzu Hanashiro who is soaking wet from the weather. He lets her use his umbrella and she accepts only if she trades contact info with each other via their cell phones.
The next day Kaoru finds out that Anzu is a transfer student in his class, and he learns that she comes off as cold and distant to most people when some girls try to bully her and she punches their leader in the face. Later at night, Kaoru’s father is drunk and starts to abuse him more than usual to the point he runs away from home and trips down the side of a path that leads to a mysterious tunnel known as the “Urashima Tunnel”, a place rumored to be capable of granting anything one wishes for, but at a cost.
Kaoru begins to explore the tunnel filled with light, water and mystic looking trees. But when it seems like it goes on forever, he finally turns around and heads for the exit. Turns out the cost of going into the tunnel is time, as for every three seconds while in there, one hour passes in the world outside of it. Kaoru learns that a week has gone by when he gets back home, and Anzu asks him where he’s been as she wanted to give his umbrella back.
He then tells her about the tunnel and the two of them enter it together and slowly begin working to experiment on being able to send text messages and phone calls while one is inside, learning about the time differences and more before deciding on going fully into the tunnel on their three day weekend coming up to see if there’s an exit and if it truly can grant wishes.
To say more would ruin the story, but I really enjoyed watching it play out. I found that Kaoru and Anzu made a nice couple as they both are distant to others and not sure what a relationship and love is. It was nice seeing them slowly figure it out more and more while also learning about the tunnel and keeping it secret from everyone else while also dealing with school and their lives.
The artwork and animation is really well done as it’s simple yet detailed enough to pull you into it, especially with the lovely background of both the city and woods where the tunnel is located. The voice acting is pretty good and fits the characters well, and I also found myself getting lost in the soundtrack for the film as the dramatic piano and violin bits pair nicely with both the sad and exciting parts, and there were a few songs thrown in for good measure too.
Those wishing for something romantic and touching to check out in theaters will want to get lost in The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes. It’s a perfect slice-of-life romance with just the right amount of sci-fi that will entertain anyone who watches and grant them plenty of wishful feels.