There are Better Anime Movies to Watch
What the hell?! Upon finishing anime movie Fireworks, however inappropriately, there was indeed some shouting of WTH?! Conveniently, the whole experience took place safely at home.
What starts out as very detailed and realistic, drops the ball when it comes to the crux of the story. The visuals are lovely; the swimming, the fireworks, the glass ball. The scene where three kids dive into the pool is marvellous. But the story, which had some potential, misses its opportunities to connect the dots.
The basic premise revolves around that of young love and teenage turmoil. At the center of this is a mysterious glowing ball which offers Norimichi a second chance at securing his dream date.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know for whom to root – and ended up hoping the mother would catch her runaway daughter and bring her home. Daughter Nazuna clearly needed an opportunity for conversation as the running away seemed like an attention grab. The fiancé punching Nazuna’s fellow middle-schooler Norimichi is a bit harsh. So stubby, he’s clearly not yet hit a growth spurt and can’t possibly be confused for an adult or even a high-schooler.
As the story meanders on two separate paths, there’s a ton of time spent on ‘boys will be boys’ type conversation but doesn’t share what’s going on with Nazuna at any point. We get a few of the facts, but not what’s going on in her head – her interpretation of what’s happening to her family. Even when she talks to Norimichi, all we get is ‘leaving.’
It’s a concept that could have used a couple of hard points to make it a more powerful story – even if the reveals were internal only. Otherwise, it appears to lack sincerity and motivation.
An original live-action made-for-TV version aired in Japan in 1993 and released in cinemas in 1995. It was, in-turn, based on Japanese TV series If which was the continuation of a TV drama called Tales of the Unusual. You following? Me neither. The anime was nominated for Best Film at the Crunchyroll anime award in 2019. But for the uninitiated, it seems like it somehow lost its way.
There are some lovely quite human pieces, such as Nazuna wanting to spend a day with Norimichi. Although it seems a tad disingenuous as she originally chooses Yasuke after the race. Like she didn’t really want to spend time with Norimichi, but with someone. One can’t help but feel a little sad for Norimichi as he does all the work, putting himself out there, going along with a crazy scheme and working hard for a favourable ending, not to mention taking a hit.
The title-focused repetitive discussion about the best way to see fireworks and the actual shape of a firework explosion was neat the first time, but after a series of mentions the key response, unfortunately, becomes: ‘who cares’. A sentiment that’s not what you want to think about a film.
Making a stretch here, perhaps this unsolvable question could be as fascinating or baffling as a universe filled with ‘ifs’ when you’re 14. However round it still seems to fall flat as the theories don’t really move on from the original question. Maybe the concept simply needed to be expressed more purposefully.
As middle schoolers, the focus touches on trying to figure out how to grow up, just the tiniest bit – stretch out of your shells, young chickens – and the vagaries of emotion. The continuous ‘if’ piece infers a certain powerlessness that isn’t otherwise possible to overcome – without a magic marble.
Like Sliding Doors or Groundhog’s Day, there’s a fight to change what is. That’s the most honest piece of the whole film. But unfortunately it doesn’t have a linking line of discussion to the fireworks question. Not in this movie anyway.
You see, I’m trying here. It seems there’s a new adaptation of the story in the works – it wouldn’t take a lot of tweaking to give us something a little more substantial. A couple of lines, thought bubbles, whatever, could clean this right up. And if there’s a time crunch, perhaps cut some of the repetitive conversation the boys have about fireworks and move it along to some thinking about the Universe. From what we see here, they don’t appear to be getting anywhere – and neither do we.
While the concept is interesting and the animation lovely, you’ll have to stretch your imagination to understand and buy into the characters and the storyline. In a way, the trailer tells the story better than the anime itself, like something was seriously lost in translation.
The Review Geek says: Save it for a rainy day. Or watch something equally fanciful but more impactful, like Your Name.
Have you seen Fireworks? Have a different opinion? Shout if you see it differently. Having spent the time, we’d love to know what we missed!
Verdict - 4/10