When a movie as good as Your Name. establishes a benchmark of what a “quality” anime film is, expectations are bound to be set while disappointments are certain to haunt the succeeding flicks following that masterpiece.
And unfortunately, Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? (Uchiage Hanabi, Shita Kara Miru ka? Yoko Kara Miru ka?) failed to live up to the legacy that Makoto Shinkai’s film has created, greatly overshadowed by the lingering success of the hit anime film.
Banking on the same time-travel trope, Fireworks, an animated adaptation of the 1993 live action drama by Shunji Iwai, centers on two teenagers running away from the seaside town of Moshimo, only to find themselves on a mysterious day that keeps on repeating itself.
While this plot has been done many times over, director Akiyuki Shinbo’s take on the time-travel gimmick felt more tiring to watch than interesting as the story progressed.
Fireworks was off to a good start, successfully establishing the mystery to hook the audience on the first part of the movie. However, it failed to sustain the excitement it has built towards the latter part of its screen time.
Norimichi’s (voiced by Masaki Suda) repeated attempts to redo the past to spend longer time with Nazuna (voiced by Suzu Hirose) felt a little too stretched, making the audience lose curiosity along the way.
This, coupled with some plot holes vital to the storyline, confusing narrative, and open-ended story only made matters worse, leaving a lot to be desired after watching the film.
While Fireworks failed to leave a lasting impression worthy of another global hit, it did have its fair share of strengths that would hopefully make up for the lacking narrative: its art and music.
While relatively not at par with the fine details of Your Name’s jaw-dropping animated scenery, Fireworks is a visual treat on its own.
Ignoring the awkward CG Integrations, the film did an excellent job providing a visually pleasing experience among moviegoers. From SHAFT’s signature arthouse style that convey the characters’ comprehensive emotions to the splash of colors filling the night sky in the fireworks festival scene, you’ll fall in love with Fireworks.
Its scoring is also spot on. The film’s background music — and the lack thereof on selected scenes — were played just right, perfectly conveying the right emotions needed to convince its audience.
It’s also amazing how music and visuals alone can tell stories despite the lack of dialogues, as made apparent in the musical sequence where Nazuna expressed her aspirations and longings thru singing her mother’s favorite song.
Powerful voice acting also makes up for Fireworks’ underwhelming plot. Masaki Suda and Suzu Hirose proved that they are versatile actors, both in the live-action and in the voice acting department. Both did great in giving justice and bringing the main characters to life.
However lush the visuals are, and excellent the scoring and voice acting are, these are not enough to hook the audience and leave them wanting for more.
A great story is vital to the success of a film, be it animated or live, and unfortunately, Fireworks failed miserably to leave a lasting impression by the end of the movie.
So if you are looking for a mind-boggling anime experience that will get you emotionally invested and keep you thinking for weeks, sadly, Fireworks is bound to disappoint.
This movie review was written by Shin Jalothot, Anime Pilipinas Correspondent. You may follow him on Twitter at @OreWaShinJei.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of Anime Pilipinas, its members, partners, and colleagues. If you have comments or reactions, please email at [email protected].