Fireworks Anime Film Review

Fireworks, is a romantic drama anime film based on the 1993 Japanese live-action of the same name. The film releases in New Zealand cinemas on October 26th. Here’s Ben Wilson’s review of the film.

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A lot of Japanese stories I’ve recently watched have explored the idea of redoing events. There seems to be a cultural fascination with the question of ‘what if’. Maybe people in Japan just regret everything they do.

Obviously no one can do-over the events of their life. Entertaining such ideas even seems cruel. Nevertheless it’s a fantasy people like to indulge, though more often than not this particular narrative method is used to help the character, not necessarily change their circumstances, but come to the realisation they (or the creator) wish they came to in the first place on topics of risk, relationships and life’s value.

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Technically the movie’s full title is, ‘Fireworks, should we see it from the side or the bottom’. It’s a question everyone in this story asks ad nauseam, prompted by the fireworks show happening that night. You’d also be right for suspecting this question has some thematic agenda.

As to what though, is a little hard to say.

The question seems like it’s asking, or perhaps making a statement, about perspective. That’s the thing about Fireworks – you can’t really tell what it’s trying to do. The plot is by no means complex, yet is told with such deceptive incoherence you’ll still come away confused as to what you just witnessed.

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A lot of movies use uncertainty as a storytelling technique, but Fireworks doesn’t have the benefit of ambiguous interpretation like some films deliberately encourage. Rather Fireworks is trying to tell a clear story with ambiguous methods, and the result, as you might expect, is just confusing.

The film does seem to suggest an answer to its quintessential question, but if that is the final answer – it’s a wild disappointment.

Fireworks brings to memory movies like Your Name (as every high school anime movie probably will from now). While one of those is vastly better, Fireworks did at least incite the flustered feelings of ol’ college crushes.

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I don’t know why, but almost every anime movie I’ve seen has been some measure of great. Maybe I coincidentally watch excellent ones, or maybe anime just has something above everything else. Even that question is leagues more interesting than the one this film poses, as would the journey of finding its answer.


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