Goodbye, Don Glees! (2022)

©Goodbye, DonGlees Partners
Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Certification: 12a

Starring: Natsuki Hanae, Yûki Kaji, Ayumu Murase, Kana Hanazawa, Rino Sashihara, Atsushi Tamura

Outcast by their classmates, teenagers Roma (Natsuki Hanae), Toto (Yûki Kaji), and Drop (Ayumu Murase) find each-other and call their group the "Don Glees". While meeting for one last summer firework show, the trio are blamed for a nearby forest fire. Believing their missing drone is the only way to prove their innocence, they journey into the mountains to clear their name. While the adventure sees the friends crossing perilous waterfalls and even a bear, the most difficult thing they face is their future.

Working on his family farm, Roma is shamed by the other kids and has resigned himself to an unremarkable life. He's interested in photography, something which reminds him of a past crush, while yearning to explore the outside world. His best friend, Toto, attends school in Tokyo while dutifully following a path laid out by his parents. While Toto tries leaving behind childish things, Roma fondly holds onto their shared past, leaving them to what path lies ahead for them.

The newest member of Don Gless is Drop, an excitable boy intent on living with no regrets and helping his friends by including his new perspective on things. Core to the story are the lovely bonds these friends share, aiding one another while revitalizing their lives and discovering what makes them happy. This is not forgotten throughout this well-animated feature, as the friends reminisce in-between wild encounters, and memorably recite Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It's easy to get on-board with their adventures and hope for the best.

©Goodbye, DonGlees Partners

As the trio's loved ones are largely mentioned instead of actually seen, writer/Director Atsuko Ishizuka keeps the focus on the protagonists and how their lives are affected. The small-stuff may seem world-ending and require large journeys to solve, yet it feels different when rear-life rears its ugly head. The friends are reminded how the wider-world lays just outside their small home, and how the door can be opened by taking the first steps.

While some moments may feel a bit too clumsy in their solutions, particularly with one reveal being dragged out, it doesn't take away from this heartfelt tale about friends reaching out for each other.  What's been crafted is an adventure in the vein of Stand By Me, symbolizing the end of childhood as they reminisce about the past and create memories to be remembered in the future.

Goodbye, Don Glees! is available in cinemas across UK and Ireland now