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AKA: 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか? ; Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka? (Lit. "Skyrockets, Watch From Below? Watch From The Side?" per Wiki)
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Length: Movie, 90 minutes
Distributor: Currently licensed by GKids in the US.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Mild violence, mild fanservice.)
Related Series: See Notes.
Also Recommended: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time; the "Baby Blue" segment of Genius Party
Notes: Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, Nobuyuki Takeuchi, and Seimei Kidokoro, based on live-action teleplay "Fireworks: Should We See It From The Side Or The Bottom?" by Shunji Iwai, released in Japan in 1993 on TV and theatrically in 1995.



Friends Norimichi Shimada and Yusuke Azumi both like a girl named Nazuna Oikawa, though Yusuke is more upfront with his friend about his feelings for the girl (Norimichi just steals furtive glances.) Through circumstances- which will actually be changed during the course(s) of events- Norimichi will actually end up "going out" with Nazuna, but their "date" will be cut short by Nazuna's mom, and Nazuna's mom's fiancé- for Nazuna's mom is going to marry this guy (3rd husband), and uproot Nazuna again, so Nazuna was actually running away from home. Norimichi wishes he could rewind events and have them play out in another way that would have worked out better (as he conceives that), and discovers that in a mystery sphere he actually possesses the means to do exactly that- again, and again, as he wishes...


SO, it's a gorgeous show; the setting is a seaside town, and it's as bright and sparkly as the beach in summer can be. The 3D CG treatment is lavished on things as mundane as a spiral staircase, through somewhat more interesting objects like windmills, finally reaching the outré in a musical fantasy sequence (!).

But then, there's the plot...

When I first heard this show described, with the whole idea of using a device to alter events, I immediately thought of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. But the heroine in THAT one was always focused on the real world- improving things for herself and her standing in that world, sure, but also acutely conscious of the effects of her actions on those around her; she cared deeply about the consequences and repercussions of what she did on others, and spent a considerable amount of time "fixing" things that she'd "broken" by altering events.

Fireworks is a different beast. It's as impulsive, as uninterested in consequences, and as eager to run from "real" circumstances as its heroine Nazuna; and through the agency of its McGuffin, that mystery sphere, our male hero here, Norimichi, becomes Nazuna's continual enabler and indulger of her feckless exuberance, charmed by her rebellious (and yet sultry- those EYES!) spirit. It's a Go-With-Your-Feelings-Consequences-Be-Damned sort of show, and I guess one of my problems was that, sure, I see the analogy between Nazuna's sudden passion and fireworks explosions, but were all of Nazuna's human connections- to her mother in particular- going to be blown up too? And Nazuna, like most runaways, seems to have only the vaguest and most unrealistic ideas about how she's going to manage on her own. The movie never really deals well with consequences; it's much more Id than Superego. It's all very pretty when fireworks explode, but when it's over things are in a haze, and I kind of felt that way here, too.

Another major distinction between The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and this one is the nature of the mystery device. It's not a time-travel device per se like Girl's; it's a wish-fulfilling device - a fact which leaves quite a bit more room for mischief, including some major alterations of reality. The show's peculiar extended title references a debate between the boys' buds over whether fireworks are "round" or "flat"- meaning, do they explode spherically, or in a flat plane? The answer to that question isn't really "rocket science" (sorry, couldn't help that), but it seemed to me that the whole debate, in retrospect, was just to set up a "we're not in Kansas anymore" moment.

I also had problems with discrepancies between the characters' stated intentions and their observed behavior. For instances:

(1) Nazuna tells one of the guys interested in her that she was actually interested in him more than his friend, all along- but in reality she had left things open for EITHER of the guys to win that critical "date" with her, by making herself the prize in a swimming match.

(2) On the other hand, one of our pair of boys declares he's secretly in love with Nazuna; but when SHE MAKES A DATE WITH HIM, thus giving him the very thing he says he most fervently desires, he ...stands her up in favor of going out with his buddies.

(3) Nazuna again tries to rewrite history (actually, her account of her own actions- only Norimichi can actually REWRITE history, since he's got the device), by telling Norimichi that "I decided to run away with you if you won the race." But the evidence is literally in plain sight that she had ALREADY decided to run away, with EITHER of the boys; it would obviously have been with Yusuke if he'd been the one who'd shown up. (By the way, if someone shows up with a suitcase on their first date with you, it MAY involve YOU in some way, so be sure to pay CLOSE ATTENTION. Advice from Grampa!)

There are a few songs in the movie, though only one struck me as particularly lovely- I don't know the Japanese title, but it has the English refrain "Colors of the Rainbow", so we'll call it that.

Though a better theme song for the show might have been Flashdance's "What A Feeling!" ("Take your passion/Make it happen.") Nazuna at another point says she wanted to be with Norimichi "for at least today" (which suggested my OTHER Rec, the "Baby Blue" segment from Genius Party), but to ride this far with our pair, and then be left with no more denouement than we get, was deeply unsatisfying to me. The show is worth four stars just on the art, the effort put into it, and maybe even on Nazuna's sheer exuberance. But I personally prefer stories with characters that are a bit more logically consistent, who think of others as well as themselves, and DO give some serious consideration to the future.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: Mild fanservice; violence (fistfights). Not rated; box suggests 13 and up, which sounds reasonable.

Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Fireworks © 2017 Shaft.
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