Fireworks is a boring and repetitive teen romance with a splash of Groundhog Day and little to offer beyond pretty visuals and a leering eye for the ladies.
There’s something about anime, especially at its best, that’s transporting in a way few things are; more real than even reality, like a hazy memory outlined and colored. You can step inside and be taken somewhere, coaxed along by imagery and imagination. In the case of Fireworks, which credits two directors in different capacities (Akiyuki Shinbo as chief director and Nobuyuki Takeuchi as just director), you arrive in a trippy, hodgepodge world full of conflicting influences and ideas. Thankfully, it isn’t a one-way trip.
The premise, taken from a live-action television film, smashes together drama and comedy with science-fiction and awkward teen romance and pours the resultant mush into a vessel shaped a little like Groundhog Day or, perhaps more accurately, Sliding Doors. Two schoolboy friends, Norimichi (Masaki Suda) and Yusuke (Mamoru Miyano), have a crush on the same girl, Nazuna (Suzu Hirose). The girl’s leggy, and the boys are leery. Often, the wind lifts up her short schoolgirl skirt, not enough to constitute a crime, but enough to be creepy, and to remind you that she’s 14. (She’s weirdly flirtatious for someone that age, too, but you know what the Japanese are like.) There’s also a teacher with massive ****, which doesn’t go unremarked upon by Yusuke, who stands up Nazuna after she asks him on a date. That prick!
Luckily, Norimichi is on-hand to offer himself as sloppy seconds, even though Nazuna is due to move away and any time they spend together must, in that case, be limited. On the beach, a magic orb – don’t worry about it – allows Norimichi to turn back time to earlier in the day, in order to relive events and improve their outcomes.
If you were wondering about the title, the movie is so-called because it’s set on the day of the town’s annual fireworks extravaganza at the lighthouse. One of the subplots consists of Norimichi’s friends arguing over the basic shape of the fireworks – round or flat – and it’s impossible to overstate how uninteresting that conversation is. And thanks to the film’s evolving narrative structure, we’re forced to endure it in each new timeline. A far cry from whatever dopey philosophical metaphor for perspective this discussion is supposed to embody, it’s instead Fireworks in microcosm: boring and repetitive, devoid of meaning and insight.
Looks pretty nice, though.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.