Starring: Suzu Hirose, Masaki Suda, Mamoru Miyano
Director: Akiyuki Shinbô
Running Time: 90 mins
Fireworks, Should We See It From The Side Or The Bottom? is a Japanese film about a group of schoolkids who aim to find out whether fireworks look round or flat from the side, while one of their gang finds himself eloping his small town with a girl from his class.
Although it’s meant to be a sweet drama about childhood romance, Fireworks is just far, far too cheesy to really stomach. While it features gorgeous animation from beginning to end, it never manages to bring any real emotional depth to its story, rather feeling like a very generic high school romance complete with an unsatisfying sci-fi element, and even though it redeems itself with a few laughs from time to time, it’s just not the world’s most entertaining watch.
Before we get into the film’s many problems, however, we’ll start off with what is always a positive to come from anime films: the animation. Although there are a couple of moments where Fireworks isn’t quite as visually refined as the elegant Studio Ghibli movies or the breathtaking Your Name, it’s still a really good-looking film, with vibrant colours and dynamic animation that really helps to create a convincing world before your eyes, not to mention wow you with some really beautiful shots of fireworks in the night sky.
In that, the film’s animators can rest easy, because this is an undoubtedly visually impressive watch. However, there’s not much else about the film that will really captivate you in the same way, and that means it’s ultimately a far duller watch than should be the case.
First off, I have to make it clear just how cheesy this film is. While many anime movies like to focus on high school students and their awkward/fairytale romances, the most successful manage to bring either a sweet and powerfully nostalgic quality or an emotionally riveting story to the table. However, Fireworks doesn’t try hard enough to be deep and riveting in its romance, instead settling for a very one-dimensional central relationship that offers next to emotional intrigue.
But the problem is, given that you have to follow these two characters as their relationship inexplicably grows stronger and closer, you have to sit through some unbearably cheesy moments, ranging from the typical awkward meet-cute scenarios to the boy’s secret feelings, and even a completely random musical sequence, in which the girl suddenly starts off on a schmaltzy love song, played out in front of images of the two being paraded through a land of rainbows and such in a horse-drawn carriage (I’m not joking).
Of course, the entire film isn’t so unbearable, but moments like that really stick out in the mind come the end of the film, and perfectly sum up the film’s inability to deliver a more emotionally riveting story, rather the fact that it is nothing more than a generic teen romance which does nowhere near enough to broaden itself beyond just one dimension.
Finally, the film also proves a frustrating watch because it adds in a sci-fi element that, while initially promising, doesn’t add anything to the story. Again comparing to Your Name, which used a bizarre body swap sci-fi premise to great effect, Fireworks doesn’t manage to link the idea of a day repeating itself again and again with the development of the characters or the central romance. Your Name, on the other hand, used the body swap to show the characters’ maturing and increased understanding of one another, proving more than just a plot device to make things a little different.
On the whole, I was disappointed by Fireworks. It’s a lovely film to look at, but with a painfully cheesy romance story coupled with an ineffective sci-fi element, it’s just not an entertaining nor a riveting watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.5 overall.