Film Review – The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes (2022)

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The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes coming to UK Cinemas 14th July, read our review
A mesmerising glow lights up the mouth of a hidden cave. The temptation to venture into it is overwhelming and stepping through, it leads to a mythical tunnel said to grant wishes. But the laws of space and time have no meaning in the famed Urashima Tunnel and though following its path could lead to your heart’s desire, it is not without great cost.

Adapted from the Japanese novel by Mei Hachimoku and produced by animation studio CLAP, who previously brought audiences Pompo the Cinephile, The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes sets an intriguing premise that immediately piques the audiences’ curiosity. Written and directed by Tomohisa Taguchi, the film follows teenager Tono Kaoru. Struggling to come to terms with a tragic event in his past and with a lonely home life, Kaoru finds a tentative alliance with new transfer student Anzu Hanashiro after they discover the Urashima Tunnel.

The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes deals with a myriad of issues. Whilst there are supernatural and sci-fi elements to proceedings, really this is a story could not be more grounded in reality and realism. This is a tale of grief and grieving for what you want but cannot have. This is a story about family relationships and the dynamics of friendship, and this is a chronicle of the depths and lengths that we would go to for love. The tunnel itself feels highly symbolic and represents not only the characters’ journeys within the film but also feels representative of transcending from one part of your life to another – moving from childhood to adulthood and all the pains and difficulties that come with that.

Visually, The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes is incredibly inviting. Throughout the film is one that you do not want to look away from and certain scenes are simply stunning. In particular one scene shows the characters shrouded in darkness before an assembly of fireworks lights up the sky in vivid colours, illuminating their silhouettes and it is breath-taking.

Karou is a really empathetic protagonist. He is flawed and vulnerable, yet the audience roots for him throughout and revels in the mystery of the tunnel with him. Hanashiro is a great match for him as where Karou is quiet and introspective, Hanashiro is bolder and more forthright. It is exciting to watch their friendship grow and see how the relationship between them evolves.

The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes is a beautiful portrait of coming to terms with loss and of moving forward. It is emotionally impactful, poignant and wonderfully animated. A film that tells us that a painful past does not have to mean a bleak future – all it takes is a bit of time.


Sci-fi, Drama, Animation | Japan, 2022 | 12A | Cinema | 14th July 2023 (UK) | Anime LTD | Dir. Tomohisa Taguchi | Marie Iitoyo, Oji Suzuka | Find a screening near you