The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes
According to an urban legend, there's a tunnel where, if you enter, your wish can come true- but, as always, there's a price to be paid for magical advantages. Kaoru Tono and Anzu Hanashiro find the tunnel- it's conveniently, as Arlo Guthrie would put it, "Just a half a mile from the railroad track"- but discover that time runs MUCH more slowly inside it than in the outer world. They form a partnership- originally each for their own reasons, but it becomes MORE than that- to exploit the tunnel's powers.
WARNING: Possible spoilers!
If I ever finally write a PhD thesis (and at MY age, I need to start SOON), it may be on the topic of "The Umbrella as a Romantic Symbol in Japanese Culture, as Portrayed in Anime." I can't count the number of actual (or would-be) couples in anime who "get cozy under the umbrella" (as Takagi put it); and, in particular, it's sometimes used as a symbol of romantic commitment, from the marriage ceremony of In This Corner of the World, to maybe our leads here. (When an umbrella is NOT available, another prop must be used as a stand-in.)
What we have here is a failure to communicate- no, sorry wrong movie. What we HAVE here is a kind of Earthbound analogue to the general scenario of Voices of a Distant Star. Kaoru discovers that one can "retrieve lost things" in the tunnel- but at the cost of falling out of synch with the rest of the world. (It's called the "Urashima Tunnel" after the legend of another fellow in a similar situation.) Technically, I don't think it's a tunnel at all, unless there's another exit somewhere beyond the point our pair explored- they only find one entry/exit point, so it's more like a cavern or cave, but I won't quibble.
I WILL quibble a bit about our leads' motivations, and their, let us say, extrapolations about what the "tunnel" can (and CAN'T) do. Kaoru's particular desire is a painfully familiar one, and to be honest if he achieves his original objective the show would be venturing into Stephen King territory. He has perhaps the more accurate idea of the limitations of the tunnel's magic in general, but his idea that "what works small will work big" might be somewhat erroneous.
Anzu, on the other hand, while commendably doing experiments (with Kaoru's help) to assess the tunnel's time-dilation factor- it's always better to understand things for planning purposes, especially when you're considering literally cutting yourself off from years of contact with the outside world- labors under the belief that You Can Get Anything You Want from the tunnel (Alice's Restaurant has been haunting me, sorry), which might also be a little too optimistic.
I'll mention here that Kaoru has a home life of sorts (Anzu doesn't), but it's one he'd have no trouble abandoning, if you get my drift.
I'll also mention that, yes, I've heard it said that you should "write what you know", but a manga writer writing about a fictional manga writer's travails in writing manga might be a little TOO self-referential. (On the other hand, I've really enjoyed manga writers taking swipes at EDITORS in Kotaro Lives Alone and The Vampire Dies in No Time. It's just that writing about THEMSELVES seems, somehow, a bit narcissistic.)
Now there were a number of ways this could have gone. One would be for the couple to walk into the tunnel together to accomplish their objectives, but I was pretty sure that one, or possibly both, would be disappointed. (I was SURE Anzu would be.) And, given the nature of their desires, it didn't look like they could remain a couple- IF being a couple was important to both.
Of course, if one of our pair's objectives WAS more important to them than their being a couple, they could also be a martyr and go in by themselves, and thus possibly break the other's heart; though, since they'd only be separated by a kilometer or so of physical space (rather than light-years as in Voices), there MIGHT be a path of return for the errant one- depending on HOW LONG they were willing to leave the other stuck in limbo. Yes, it takes some folks in anime a VERY long time to come around (Real Girl, etc.), but a "time gap" of more than a year would, I would think, justify the person stuck in OUR timeline searching for someone else. But I concede that some are VERY patient...
Is this worth watching? Like Starlight Promises (one of the Recs), it repurposes some familiar tropes, and, also like that show, it features an incredibly obtuse male lead. But, again like THAT one, this is pretty short, and has apparently won some minor awards (which the Blu-Ray box proudly highlights), so we'll say it's worth a look. I'll say the denouement suited me a bit better than Voices of a Distant Star's did. And besides, Grampa can add it to his thesis. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Sentai goes TV-14 on this. Kaoru's household (what's left of it) is NOT that pleasant. Domestic violence, mature themes.
Version(s) Viewed: HiDive Video Stream
Review Status: Full (1/1)
The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes © 2022 Mei Hachimoku, Shogakukan/The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes Film Partners
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