- Mangaka : Hachimoku, Mei (Writer); Koudon (Artist)
- Publisher : Seven Seas
- Genre : Drama, Romance, Supernatural, Seinen
- Published : Jul 2022 - Present
Manga is usually the original source for a story that will later be adapted not only to anime series or movies, but also into live action features. However, light novels slowly but surely began to take over the role of manga as the source material that would later be adapted into different media, including manga - the biggest examples being Sword Art Online and Goblin Slayer.
And now, another light novel adaptation has finally come to this side of the pond. It might not be as high profile as those previous titles, but it is still worth your time. It’s called The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes: Ultramarine, and here’s our brief review for it.
In Japan, there’s a famous folklore story about the journey of a fisherman called Urashima Taro to the Dragon Palace that sits beneath the ocean. The most famous element of this story is the time dilation, because while Urashima Taro only spends about three days in the palace, when he is back to his village, at least 100 years have apparently passed.
A similar thing happens in this manga. However, rather than a royal palace at the seabed, we get a mysterious tunnel with rows upon rows of Torii gates as its pillars.
The main character, Tono Kaoru, stumbles upon this tunnel during his usual night stroll. Kaoru has heard about a myth called the Urashima Tunnel from his classmates. They said that if you walk into the Urashima Tunnel, your wish will be granted, but when you get out, you will turn into a wrinkly old version of yourself. Seeing such a mysterious tunnel, Kaoru can’t help but wonder if it’s the mythical Urashima Tunnel.
Kaoru doesn’t really want anything for himself. The only thing that he wants is for his late sister to come back to life. He knows that it is impossible for such a request to be granted, but since he is already there, he might as well try to walk inside. Kaoru only spends about an hour or two in the tunnel before he feels scared and immediately runs back home.
Once he arrives at his house, his father instantly grabs his shoulder and asks him why he left the house without saying anything for a week. Surprised, Kaoru opens up his phone. The battery has nearly died, but the date clearly states July 8. A week has indeed gone by since the day he walked into the tunnel.
1. More Than Just A Modern Version of the Tale of Urashima Taro
The Tunnel to Summer is not only a modern retelling of the famous tale of Urashima Taro, but it is also a stripped down version of it. There’s no journey into the sea floor here; it’s just a simple abandoned tunnel. There’s no romantic tale of a poor fisherman meeting a beautiful princess from a mythical kingdom; it’s just an awkward high school boy who wants to meet his little sister.
The author gets rid of the excess fat and only uses the meat and bones of the story, which is the time dilation. To make things more interesting, we also get a coming-of-age story, and a potential high school romance thrown on top. These changes make the fantastical nature of the Urashima Taro story into something that is relatable to modern readers.
2. Soft Science Fiction
Yes, the tale of Urashima Taro is a supernatural tale. It even says so in the genre tag above. However, the topic of “Time Dilation” is certainly within the science fiction category. As a matter of fact, this manga is actually soft science fiction.
Soft science fiction is a type of science fiction that focuses more on the characters and the emotional aspects of the story rather than hard science, like math or physics. The presence of the scientific stuff is also less than what you’ll see in a pure, hardcore sci-fi story. A soft sci-fi will usually present one central concept and then latch on to that throughout the story, rather than taking the reader through various sci-fi ideas. Think of Memories of Emanon, rather than Ghost in the Shell.
A good soft sci-fi presents a story that might seem simple at a glance, but the more you read it, the more you’ll find that there are fascinating and thrilling concepts embedded within. That is precisely the case with The Tunnel to Summer. The story is built on top of the simple premise of Urashima Taro’s time dilation, but add to that the coming-of-age and teenage angst elements with a sprinkle of romance and a boat load of thrill and mystery, and we have a deeply interesting and engaging story on our hands.
1. Slow Pacing
One of the typical hallmarks of a soft sci-fi story, particularly in the world of manga, is a slow pace. That’s because it needs that kind of pace in order to properly develop the characters as they interact with the main sci-fi idea. That is what happens in The Tunnel to Summer. So if you prefer a fast-paced story rather than a slow-burn one like this, then The Tunnel to Summer might not be an enjoyable read for you.
The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes: Ultramarine is a soft sci-fi story that tells a modern and stripped down version of the Tale of Urashima Taro from the pages of Japanese folklore. It presents an engaging and thrilling story while still providing enough mystery to make you starve to read the next volume. Yes, it is a slow-paced story and some people might be turned off by that, but even if you are, you should at least give it a try.
Have you read The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes: Ultramarine? If you have, what do you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.