Goodbye, Don Glees! review – stunningly animated film is affecting YA adventure

Anime tells a familiar tale about boyhood friendship and childhood gangs but does so with genuinely intense feeling

Here is a beautifully gentle and melancholy coming-of-age YA adventure from the Japanese animator Atsuko Ishizuka. The story will be instantly familiar: a tale of boyhood friendship coming to an end – or shifting into a new phase perhaps, less intense. There is nothing new to see here, and yet it’s a deeply felt film, romantic and earnest about childhood. Though I have to admit I found the subtitling hard to follow in places; the dubbed version might be a better choice, especially for younger audiences.

The narrator is called Roma; he is remembering the summer when he was 15, living on a farm. The other kids in the village laugh at him, and call him “cow dung guy”. His best friend is serious, hardworking Toto (Yûki Kaji) who has been away at school in Tokyo. Now Toto is back for the holidays with a new boyband haircut and a slight air of disdain for his country bumpkin friend. The pair have been inseparable for years; they built a secret den in the woods and called themselves the Don Glees gang (the name is explained later).

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