Winner of the highly coveted Paul Grimault Prize at the Annecy Festival (2023), “The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes” is a sweet romantic young adult (YA) coming-of-age film that entwines two young high school students from different backgrounds but share similar pains growing up.
In the film, it was an awkward first meeting when Kaoru Tuono (voiced by Ouji Suzuka) and Anzu Hanashiro (Marie Iitoyo) saw each other while waiting at a train station. Soon after, they meet again as classmates when Anzu steps in for her first day at her new school where Kaoru is also studying. Their first meeting soon blossomed into friendship as they go through their high school days. Within their peers, rumors circulate that there exists a tunnel called Urashima Tunnel that grants what one desperately wants and yearns for if you are able pass through it. But upon granting one’s wish, the tunnel takes years off the lives of those who enter and pass through it – one day spent is equivalent to six and a half year of one’s life outside the tunnel.
One fateful day after a heated argument with his father, Kaoru runs out of their home and accidentally finds himself standing in front of the mysterious tunnel. Curious and drawn to the tunnel, Kaoru tries to enter the tunnel and soon gets bewildered by what he saw inside. Coming to his senses, he rushes out of the tunnel only to find out that the few minutes he has spent inside cost him a week’s worth of time outside. Once outside the tunnel, Kaoru finds Anzu by the entrance and tells her about his experience inside. Forming a stronger bond this time, they both agree to keep it a secret until they unlock the mystery that surrounds the tunnel, and ultimately once their wishes are granted.
Kaoru is puzzled by the encounter he experienced inside the tunnel when he saw a parrot that reminded him of his childhood when he and sister used to have one. Waking up at home after spending time at the tunnel, Kaoru finds a cage in his room with the parrot he saw inside the tunnel. Determined to find out what’s happening, he returns to the tunnel with Anzu, this time being prepared with time calculations on how long he has to stay inside, while Anzu keeps watch outside.
As time passes by, the two has formed a stronger bond and as they keep returning to the tunnel, they wonder how further they have to go deeper and how much they have to lose for their wishes to finally come true.
An Encore Film to be distributed by Warner Bros., “The Tunnel of Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes” will open on November 1 exclusively at SM Cinemas.