Goodbye, Don Glees! centers around three teenage boys: Roma, Toto and Drop. The title comes from a nickname they call themselves. They’re not the cool kids, as they very well know, and they get blamed for a fire they didn’t start. There’s a drone out in the forest that can prove their innocence, but they end up just getting lost. At one point a bear chases them, but a lot of the story concentrates not on these real-world dangers, but what it’s like growing up, growing apart, and coming back together again.
The movie starts off with a languid pace and a bucolic feel. Even though there’s some modern technology like drones and cell phones, it has a timeless feel to it when the boys are out in the woods without any modern technology to help them out. The movie is one of those slow burns that heats up as it goes, so it’s hard to tell when it starts to become gripping. But by the end, the characters are like friends and it has an emotional pull on the heartstrings. It is quite melancholic and endearing.
The animation is also beautiful, mainly with the nature scenes. Blue flowers, waterfalls, starry night skies and mountain ranges are just some of the backgrounds that have to be seen for the amazing detail and realness of them. The natural scenes help set the mood as the boys struggle with their friendships and their feelings. One scene where they’re all looking at the stars, for example, places their melancholy against the size of the universe, showing how small they are but how big their experiences are to them.
The movie is receiving limited screenings from GKIDS, and will be in theaters on September 14, 18 and 20. There are both subbed and dubbed versions.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.