Review: Fireworks (2017) — What if you get to go back in time to try and date your crush?

fireworks anime still nazuna

Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか?

Movie review

Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo (Yu Yu Hakusho anime series) and Nobuyuki Takeuchi, Fireworks, Should We see it from the Side or the Bottom? is a fantasy teenage romance anime based on the 1993 Japanese live action TV film of the same name which has the familiar time-loop concept that was made popular by Groundhog Day, which was also released in 1993, and then made more known recently by Edge of Tomorrow / Live, Die, Repeat in 2014. But unlike these two Hollywood blockbusters which were about grownups and aliens respectively, Fireworks uses the concept on young innocent romance — one that you could easily relate to if you were a kid who had a crush that got away back in school (sobs).

The story follows a high school boy named Norimichi Shimada (Masaki Suda) who made plans with a group of friends to head out to a lighthouse to find out if fireworks are flat or round. But when he sees his crush Nazuna Oikawa (Suzu Hirose) being ditched by her date and is forced to move away from town by her remarried mother, he is mysteriously brought him back in time to repeat the same day all over again and do things differently for a different outcome.

fireworks anime still norimichi

I could definitely emotionally relate to the protoganist. Norimichi’s kid with a crush but frustratingly hesitates whenever he needs to make decisions and take action instead of doing absolutely nothing. And who wouldn’t wish to get a chance(s) to do it all over and correct the mistakes and erase regrets. The idea of experiencing that is highly engaging indeed. However, the film feels like it’s missing an act with pacing issues, a lot of questions unanswered and plot points left unexplored. Like how Norimichi’s best friend Yusuke (Mamoru Miyano) seems to have ditched Nazuna because he knows Norimichi has a crush on her too. It’s a compelling subplot which I thought the narrative would revisit later to explore further for a proper closure but it didn’t.

Also, the typical anime humour doesn’t quite work for most parts and the fan-servicing of the supposedly under-16 Nazuna in short skirt shown in low camera angles can feel either distracting or uncomfortable as well. There is one long musical moment that’s so cringy I had to look away. And at the end of the film, I was confused if it was actually time-traveling in reality or is in another dimension created by Norimichi’s mind. It’s probably an artistic decision to make it open to interpretation but the film is too vague to give the audience enough to think about.

In overall, Fireworks is still entertaining, especially if you could relate to it, with pretty hand-drawn 2D and dreamy 3D background visuals. It also somewhat conveys how selfish decisions could have a negative impact on others who care about you. But the film is no where near as great as other recent, more profound and meaningful high school romance animes like Your Name (2016) and A Silent Voice (2017).

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What I would’ve named the film: “Groundhog Anime”: Live, Fail to Get the Girl, Repeat”

Malaysian censorship: Contains typical anime boob humour and mildly sexualised high school girl character but I doubt any scene requires to be cut.

Verdict: Flawed with a confusing closure but relatable and entertaining enough.

Rating: 3 / 5

fireworks 2017 anime movie poster malaysiaCountry / Language: Japan / Japanese
Based on: 1993 TV movie “Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?” by Shunji Iwai

Genre: Fantasy romance comedy drama, anime
Running Time: 90 mins
Director: Akiyuki Shinbo, Nobuyuki Takeuchi
Screenwriter: Hitoshi Ohne
Voice Cast: Suzu Hirose, Masaki Suda, Mamoru Miyano, Shintarō Asanuma, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Yūki Kaji, Kana Hanazawa, Takako Matsu

Malaysia Release Date: 30 Nov. 2017 (TGV Cinemas only)
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: AtriNaga Sdn Bhd
Production: Shaft

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