Kaoru Touno's family is falling apart. After the death of a sibling and his parents' divorce, he no longer feels any peace at home. Following a heated confrontation with his father, Kaoru runs out of his house and finds himself before a mysterious tunnel, which pulls him in. Bewildered by what he sees inside, he rushes to the exit, picking up a bird that looks identical to his deceased pet on his way out.
Upon emerging outside, Kaoru realizes that, despite him spending just a few minutes inside the tunnel, an entire week has passed. The bizarre experience leads him to remember the rumors of "Urashima Tunnel"—a passage that grants wishes in exchange for one's lifespan. Given the resurrection of his pet bird, Kaoru cannot help but wonder if another visit can help fix his messed up life.
However, when he returns to the entrance of the mysterious tunnel, Kaoru realizes that he has been followed by Anzu Hanashiro, a new transfer student in his class. She also knows about the rumors and asks him to help her with an experiment—it turns out that she, too, has a wish that only the tunnel can grant.
As “The Anime Critic,” Natsu e no Tunnel, Sayonara no Deguchi stands as a radiant gem that should not be missed by any anime connoisseurs. Its simple story beautifully depicts complex themes and emotions, making it a delectable treat for its audience. The meticulousness of every scene, every emotion captured is just remarkable, going beyond the norm to bring out the raw human emotions representing the teenage years of our lives.
Ichiro, the protagonist, is not your typical hero. He’s quiet, introverted and almost invisible, but has an intricate layering beneath his shy exterior. His character development is a substantial part of the narrative, and the creators did a phenomenal job making him relatable, and his story resounding with viewers.
Then, there’s Ariko. Oh, Ariko! She is the splash of color in Ichiro’s monotone world. Her vibrant personality and positive aura is like a balm to Ichiro’s withdrawn nature. Their relationship progresses subtly and beautifully, gradually deepening, and delivering emotional punches that will leave viewers teary-eyed yet filled with a warm feeling.
The animation quality of this anime is top-drawer, with detail-oriented designs that truly captivate the essence of ’70s Japan. The color palette is warm, soothing, and brings a sense of nostalgia across the screen. Adding to this, the soundtrack is equally outstanding. It perfectly foreshadows the mood of each scene, heightening the overall emotional experience.
Translating such a poignant story into a relatable visual monologue requires excellent storytelling, and Natsu e no Tunnel, Sayonara no Deguchi scores full points in this regard. Overall, I highly recommend checking this one out, regardless of your typical genre preference. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll reminisce, and by the end, you’ll come away with a piece of Ichiro’s summer in your own heart.
The series has been beautifully sculpted start to finish, making it a worthy addition to anyone’s collection. So, whether to rent, buy or stream, I say – do them all! This is an anime that warrants buying, streaming, and even lending to loved ones to share the richness of its narrative.
At the end of the day, Natsu e no Tunnel, Sayonara no Deguchi is not just an anime. It’s a narrative masterpiece, a sentimental journey, a tunnel into a summer that you’d definitely like to revisit.
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