Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Director: Tomohisa Taguchi
Cast: Ouji Suzuka, Marie Iitoyo, Tasuku Hatanaka
Runtime: 1 hr 23 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: Encore Films
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 5 October 2023

Synopsis: Based on award-winning novel. Winner of the Paul Grimault Prize, Annecy Festival 2023. A mysterious tunnel can grant your fondest wish... but at a price. 

The Urashima Tunnel can grant any wish…for a price. High school boy Kaoru, plagued by a troubled past, teams up with Anzu, a girl who struggles to place obligations before her dreams, to investigate the Tunnel. But the cost of their hearts’ desires may be too high to pay. This is an unforgettable summer story of nostalgia, young love and bending time itself..

Movie Review:

Comparisons with Makoto Shinkai’s record-breaking ‘Your Name’ are inevitable, given how both animes feature two high-school students falling in love with each other across time and space, but there is enough reason to regard Tomohisa Taguchi’s adaptation of Mei Hachimoku’s graphic novel on its own terms and merit.

The opening prologue explains the mechanics of the titular Urashima Tunnel, which has the power to grant your wishes, albeit at the expense of time. Because of a personal tragedy some years ago, high-school student Kaoru (voiced by Oji Suzuka) is intrigued by this local legend, and while running away from his abusive, alcoholic father one evening, stumbles upon it after a tumble down a slope.

Without giving away too much, let’s just say that Kaoru’s maiden encounter with the powers of the Tunnel sees him find his long dead pet budgie alive, which makes him determined to do the same for his younger sister Karen. Kaoru also finds an unexpected companion amidst this journey of discovery, Anzu (Marie Iitoyo), a new girl from school who had just moved to the rural mountainside town from Tokyo.

Though initially cold and reluctant to make conversation, Anzu warms up to Kaoru, and is just as intrigued as Kaoru is with the tunnel. Only midway through the movie does Anzu’s intentions become clear – despite her parents’ objections, Anzu yearns to be a manga artist like her grandfather, and hopes through the tunnel that she can reconnect with her grandfather to learn more about the craft.

It isn’t hard to guess that Kaoru and Anzu will each be confronted with the choice to live fully with the time given in the present or go back in time to recapture the past even if it means losing the time in the present. In particular, such a choice is especially difficult for those dealing with loss and regret, and both Kaoru and Anzu have to further contend with the discontent of their present realities.

To say anything more would be to give too much away – indeed, within a brisk but never rushed 83 minutes, Taguchi weaves a captivating story that combines the headiness of first love with the weightiness of such themes as grief, abandonment and self-doubt. Forgoing the numerous subplots in the original novel, Tagushi keeps the narrative squarely focused on the relationship between Kaoru and Anzu as well as their respective inner struggles, and in doing so, deepens the emotional bond that we build with the pair of characters.

It doesn’t hurt too that the animation is also consistently gorgeous, thanks to the superb team at CLAP. Particularly deserving of mention is the depiction of the tunnel itself, which brims with vibrant colours that add to the otherworldliness of this metaphysical dimension. It is also in that respect intended to be deceptively alluring, as the past sometimes does compared to the present.

Though it probably won’t achieve the same runaway success as ‘Your Name’, ‘The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit to Goodbyes’ is a sumptuously romantic anime that ought to be appreciated in own right. Don’t dismiss it as just another YA romance – its message about embracing the present, instead of running back into the past, is mature and even uplifting for both adolescents and adults alike. And thanks to that, we dare say it is a beautiful story that will connect to young and old alike visually, emotionally and psychologically..

Movie Rating:

(Gorgeously animated with a beautiful story and a poignant message, this sumptuously romantic anime holds its own against the inevitable comparisons with 'Your Name')

Review by Gabriel Chong


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