Director: Akiyuki Shinbo, Nobuyuki Takeuchi
Cast: Suzu Hirose, Masaki Suda, Mamoru Miyano, Shintarō Asanuma, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Yūki Kaji, Kana Hanazawa Takako Matsu
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 30 November 2017
Synopsis: One Summer day, in a sea-side town. One Junior high school is gathered with an excitement before a firework show. Norimichi(Masaki Suda) and Yusuke(Mamoru Miyano), at a pool side, meets Nazuna(Suzu Hirose), an idol of their class, a girl they both secretly have a crush on. The two boys turn out to have a swimming match with Nazuna. Norimichi, although fails the match, finds a mysterious ball in the water. On the other hand, Yusuke, who won the fight, is asked by Nazuna to go out to watch the firework show together. After school, while boys have an argument whether fireworks are round or flat when viewed from sideways, Norimichi is told by Nazuna that she was going to ask out the one who won the swimming match. However, her true purpose was to “elope” with a boy from her remarrying mother. Nazuna, in front of Norimichi’s eyes, resists her mother who pulls her back home. Norimichi, powerlessly, only stares the situation and cannot do anything. “If only I won the match thay day...” Irritated, Norimichi throws the ball he found in the water and then... He finds himself back in the moment of the swimming match. After the day repeated over and over again, what will Nazuna and Norimichi find in the end? And after all, is the firework round or flat when viewed from sideways? When the fireworks sparkle, the love encounters a miracle...
Despite the baffling title, Fireworks, should we see if from the side or bottom? is very much a simplistic tale about two young star-crossed lovers with a magical gimmick thrown into the narrative. Though it’s essentially a remake of a 50-minute live-action TV movie made in 1993 by Shunji Iwai (Love Letter), fans of last year’s megahit, Your Name will be curious to check this one out.
Norimichi (Masaki Suda from Gintama) and Yusuke (Mamoru Miyano) are two best friends who both developed a crush on their classmate, Nazuna (Suzu Hirose from Let’s Go, Jets!). With the intention of eloping with the one she loves on the night of the annual fireworks festival, Nazuna has quietly chosen Norimichi to be the fateful one. However, Nazuna’s plan is thwarted by her mother and Yusuke until Norimichi figured out the only way to escape is to make use of the strange orb which Nazuna has picked up from the beach earlier.
Last summer, Makoto Shinkai's hit body-swapping, time-travelling anime brought a new viewing experience especially to non-anime fans. Your Name was funny, throughly engaging from start to finish and utterly touching. No doubt, Fireworks attempt to embark on the same formula though this time, the narrative is tedious, repetitive and mostly frustrating to last a mere 90 minutes.
The title refers to a running gag by Norimichi and his group of class buddies, a pointless argument about whether fireworks are round or flat when see from the side. It’s very much a side gag just like the one about their form teacher’s bust and her underground relationship with a fellow colleague. The gist of the story revolves around Nazuna, the torn teenager who refused to move to a new place with her mother who is remarrying for the third time.
The strange magical orb is an unexplained gimmick or device to allow Norimichi to relive the day with Nazuna else there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell. By throwing the orb into the air, Norimichi is able to turn back time and changed their ending. The time spent with Norimichi and Nazuna however happened to be the most meaningful aspect of the anime as we get to learn more about the struggle and backstory of Nazuna, an angst teenager who dreams of leaving her current state to be a pop idol and wondering if she is following in her mother’s shoes as she eloped with Norimichi.
Unfortunately, the narrative makes little effort to delve more into it and instead of giving the story a more rounded emotion feel, the anime is contend in delivering outstanding visual and breathtaking effects and colours especially during the fireworks climax. It’s definitely a good thing for SHAFT Studio which is renowned for their acclaimed technicalities though not anyone will appreciate the blending of 3D objects and traditional 2D animation.
After two recent satisfying animes, Your Name and A Silent Voice, Fireworks turned out unexpectedly to be a huge disappointment. Suzu Hirose is pefect as the voice of Nazuna, Masaki Suda on the other hand sounds way mature for a junior high student. I for one have no problem with the sometimes photo-realistic often visually striking animation and the mesmerizing theme song by DAOKO. It’s the somewhat disjointed and unfulfilled message that disappoints.
(Fireworks is significantly simple and dissatisfied in terms of plotting compared to the wondrous visuals displayed)
Review by Linus Tee