Review: Goodbye, Don Glees! is everything a coming-of-age story should be

By: Robert Prentice

Studio Madhouse animates this coming-of-age story that follows three young boys through the adventure that will conclude their backyard adventure group as each prepares to move on to college and more.

Teen misfits Roma, Toto, and Drop call themselves the “Don Glees,” an informal name for their backyard adventures. One day, when the trio gets blamed for a nearby forest fire, they set off into the woods to prove their innocence. As disaster strikes their expedition, tensions flare between the friends as they realize that growing up has taken them on wildly different paths in life. Director Atsuko Ishizuka follows up her critically acclaimed series A Place Further Than the Universe with her first original feature film. With luminescent animation and lush backdrops, Goodbye, Don Glees! is a tender coming-of-age story about the fearlessness of being young and the bittersweet journey of self-discovery.


Goodbye, Don Glees! is a stunningly animated coming-of-age story from studio Madhouse, and director Atsuko Ishizuka. Invoking the childhood wonder of the adventure group you built with your friends in middle school. Or geeking out over photography with the girl you had a crush on. Or having that final celebration of fireworks with your friends before they all move on towards becoming adults. But this story doesn’t have a happy ending. As the group deals with this revelation, pent-up frustration and regret bubble to the surface as they try to prove their Innocence, both from the authorities and to each other.

Drop is a new kid who moved from Iceland but quickly meshes with Roma and the group, Toto took a bit. He is full of life and dresses very loudly (color and style-wise). He is a free spirit and takes in the enjoyment of every moment. His energy and smile are intoxicating and quickly rub off on Roma and Toto. He is enthralled with the story of Yggdrasil and the tree of life. He tells the boys a story about a red phone booth in the middle of nowhere in Iceland. However, cracks start to appear in his cheery disposition and Roma picks up on it.

The story has subtle tell-tale clues throughout about what is happening but if you are not paying attention you will miss it. A second watch is in order for me, but this story and the animation beautifully capture the close relationship these boys have, the fun of the summer months spent exploring nature, and the things we take for granted in life when things are just moving too quickly around us. You will tear up in the end, but for all the best reasons. You will be better for having watched it, so don’t let this little gem slip by when it releases on Blu-Ray and DVD on Dec 27th on ShoutFactory’s site.

Courtesy of GKIDS/Shoutfactory. 2022

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