Film Review: FIREWORKS (Uchiage hanabi, shita kara miru ka? Yoko kara miru ka?) (Japan 2017)

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Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or The Bottom? Poster

Schoolchildren Norimichi, Yûsuke and Jun’ichi want to know if fireworks look round or flat from the side. They make a plan to find the answer at a fireworks display, while Nazuna schemes to… See full summary »


Akiyuki Shimbô (as Akiyuki Shinbô), Nobuyuki Takeuchi (co-director)


Shunji IwaiHitoshi Ône (screenplay)


FIREWORKS is the hit Japanese animation feature featuring teen boys doing what they do best during their free time – chasing girls and making pranks.  Despite this theme, FIREWORKS turns out to be an extremely boring exercise from the very start.  Be it the unfamiliar Japanese culture but that should not be a sufficient reason. 

It is based on the 1993 Japanese live-action television play of the same name, also released in cinemas in 1995, by Shunji Iwai.

The lengthy title can roughly be translated to ‘Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?’ as teen wonder as they travel to an island for the purpose of watching fireworks.

To directors Akiyuki Shinbo and Nobuyuki Takeuchi’s credit, FIREWORKS has a solid look that can pass for a Hayao Miyazaki movie.   The typical Miyazaki movie regularly contains a plot that includes the element of teen true love, and part of this theme is present.

The story is set in the town of Moshimo.  The vents take place from the point of view of teen Norimichi Shimada.  Norimichi and his friends, Yusuke, Miura, and Junichi live while harassing their teacher and the former half galvanising over the beauty of their classmate Nazuna Oikawa, who is poised to move to a new town with her family.   Nazuna, on the day she is supposed to leave, picks up a small strange-looking glass marble she finds by the sea.  After school, she encounters Norimichi and Yusuke who happen to be on pool-cleaning duty.  Challenging them to a swimming race, she proposes the winner has to follow whatever she says. Yusuke wins and she asks him to go together to the festival to see the fireworks. 

Both Norimichi and Yusuke have the hots for Nazuna but it is the former that prevails.  He uses the marble to alter time in order to eve Nazuna.  And so the story goes.

The story/film can be described as a teen coming of age drama with magic though it leans more towards the whimsical than the dramatics.

The film is to be commended for its lively coloured animation with  haunting music by Satoru Kōsaki

The supernatural slant is provided in the shape of the glass marble that when thrown turns back time.  Unfortunately, the audience is forced one again to view a few of the boring scenes.  The glass marble is thrown a couple of times.  It is all about the glass marble. Nothing is mentioned of where it came from or how in got its powers.

Why would, this film, many may wonder earn a commercial release?  For one, Bell Lightbox gives foreign films a chance – a good thing and also the fact that though the film received mixed to positive reviews from critics, many have praised the film for its music and animation.  The film has so far grossed $26 million worldwide, becoming the sixth highest-grossing anime film of 2017 and the highest-grossing Shaft (the film company that made FIREWORKS) film.


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