Friday, September 16, 2022

Goodbye, Don Glees! Review: An Anime Coming of Age Adventure

Release Date: September 14, 2021
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Director/Writer: Atsuko Ishizuka 
OLV Cast: Ayumu Murase, Natsuki Hanae, Yuuki Kaji, Kana Hanazawa 
English Dub Cast: Adam McArthur, Nick Wolfhard, Jonathan Leon, Victoria Grace 

Teen misfits Roma, Toto, and Drop call themselves the “Don Glees,” an informal name for their backyard adventures. One day, when the trio gets blamed for a nearby forest fire, they set off into the woods to prove their innocence. As disaster strikes their expedition, tensions flare between the friends as they realize that growing up has taken them on wildly different paths in life. 

Goodbye Don, Glees! has a Stand By Me feel, with a group of friends adventuring off into the woods to both accomplish a task and grow as friends and individuals.  The first thing you will notice is the beautiful animation.  This anime has a clean, but wholly anime style that is impressive to see.  The film is a set in a small town in the woods, and the animation highlights this perfectly.  From deep forests, to beautiful vistas, to just the overall highlights of their journey, this is a movie that will make you stop and take notice.  And it's not just the inherent beauty of the setting that will make you take notice, the film is set in a town that is too small for any of these personalities, and the animation helps to set that stage.  The town looks old and run down, which is a nice contrast to the beauty and wonder of the world around the Don Glees.  

But the film isn't all about the visuals.  The ambient music that accompanies these visuals is equally beautiful.  It really gives you a sense of wonder and excitement as the journey progresses.  And as with many coming of age films, this movie has a ton of heart throughout.  Despite the turmoil, the bond that these friends share is energetic and infectious.  And the ending of the film keeps this trend going, with a fulfilling climax that really brings it all home. 

However, Goodbye, Don Glees! is not without its faults.  For a film that focuses so much on maturing and growing into your own, there are some surprisingly juvenile moments that set a very different tone than the rest of the film.  And the movie does jump around in the timeline, which makes for a confusing overall story.  I liked it eventually, but it left me scratching my head at the start.  Because of this, it is one of those movies that I will probably have to watch again just to fully understand, but it is also one that I am looking forward to experiencing again.

Goodbye, Don Glees! is an anime coming of age with stunning animation, a wonderful soundtrack, and despite some initial immaturity and confusion, grows into a heartfelt and heart wrenching film.  

Watch it.

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Goodbye, Don Glees! is in theaters on September 14, 2022.   

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