Goodbye, Don Glees! Review: A moving coming-of-age story

Goodbye, Don Glees! is the kind of movie that’s enjoyable for everyone, but is especially appealing if you’ve experienced your teenage years in the last decade or so. With lots of inspiration from Stand by me, it’s the type of movie that embodies a certain period of life for a decent selection of people, all portrayed with stunning anime visuals. If a modern anime takes hold Stand by me sounds appealing to you, then you will probably be moved by this rather personal production.

At its core, Goodbye, Don Glees! is about what it means to grow up. The characters must face harsh realities involving everything from growing apart to mortality. These themes are handled well, with plenty of heavy emotional moments taking place throughout the film. There are plenty of scenes of lightness to keep the film from being completely bleak, which balances the overall tone of the film nicely.

The story is a moving one, though it occasionally dips into melodrama in the middle section. This is understandable as the story follows three teenage boys who all struggle with overwhelming emotions and the trials of entering adulthood. Just know that you’ll see more than a few sequences of the trio sobbing, even if the story warrants it most of the time.

Although the film is set in Japan, it tackles these themes in a universal way that makes it relatable to most people who were once teenage boys. From goofy hairstyles to blatantly bad decisions, these boys tick every pubescent guy box, making the film an accurate depiction of those crazy years. The main characters are outcasts, so their friendship, which comes out of necessity, feels very familiar. When they fight or open up to each other, the reactions are earned and personal.

The only problem I really have with it Goodbye, Don Glees! is that its surreal, almost dream-like moments make it a bit difficult to follow the story towards the end. I like that randomness and coincidence play such a big role in the finale, as it speaks to another element of life that you learn about growing up: the role of luck in how your life turns out.

Goodbye, Don Glees! is also a beautiful film visually. Many of the sequences are amazingly vivid and detailed, with the environments in particular looking truly natural and picturesque. It makes sense since the studio behind the film is the talented Madhouse, whose excellence in making smooth and visually appealing anime continues to shine.

The voice acting is also excellent, with each member of the main trio feeling distinct. Their voices fit their personalities and the passionate delivery perfectly suits the heavier moments. I watched the Japanese version with English subtitles and although I recognized two of the three main actors from the anime as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Demon Slayer, they sounded so different that it took me a while to place them. It should talk about how different these achievements are since they don’t merge with previous achievements.

Goodbye, Don Glees! is a moving and personal exploration of growing up that is likely to remind you of times gone by. It has equal amounts of silly gags and touching beats; a balance that aptly represents adolescence in the modern world. It can be a bit difficult to distinguish what happens from what is more symbolic towards the end, but the beautiful visuals and personal story make it a worthwhile coming-of-age story.

SCORE: 8/10

Like ComingSoon’s audit policy explains, a score of 8 corresponds to “Fantastic”. Although there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds in its goal and leaves a memorable impact.

Disclosure: The reviewer received a screener link to ComingSoon’s Goodbye, Don Glees! review.

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