I just saw this movie in theaters. This review is going to be kind of long, so let me put this in general terms:
If you're watching this movie because it has nice art: just watch the music video for the image song, Uchiage Hanabi by DAOKO. It contains almost all the nice shots from the movie (missing the ending sequence, which although is slightly odd, is very beautifully animated. So maybe watch the music video then wait for the movie to be available to stream then skip to the ending to see the pretty fireworks and surreal animation).
If you're watching this movie because
it's Shaft or because of a famous voice actor: I don't think anything I say here will stop you from watching the movie, so go for it.
If you're watching this movie because you're intrigued by the story: just know that this 2-sentence blurb from Wikipedia (the one on MyAnimeList is very strangely worded and sounds very bad, honestly) is the entire plot: "The story takes place one day in summer. A group of young men are planning to watch fireworks from the town's lighthouse, wondering if fireworks are round or flat when seen from the side. Somewhere else, the class idol Nazuna asks the boy who likes her, Norimichi, to elope with her. What fate awaits these two in a day that keeps repeating itself?" That's it. Don't expect much more.
Art: This would have been the best part of the movie if not for the random CGI scenes. There were several minute-long sequences where the movie would switch between beautiful animation of the characters on bikes featured in the trailer to some horrible CGI rendering of the characters on bikes, then back and forth until they got to their destination. It honestly looked horrible and ruined the look of the movie. Other than that, the fireworks and other scenes were lit beautifully, and I can't remember there being any moments where the animation looked super rushed (though of course there were parts, but I count on stuff looking better on the Blu-Ray). Overall the art was cool to look at and Shaft definitely incorporated their own style by including their signature "head tilt" use of odd camera angles.
Overall it wasn't terrible, but definitely ruined by that horrible CGI.
Sound: This is what first drew me to the film and it was the best part of it, followed by the art (which would have tied if not for the horrible CGI parts). It was slightly disappointing that the image song only played during the credits, and there was one awkward part where Nazuna danced to a slow song for the full 4 minutes in the middle of the movie. While the song wasn't bad, its placement and length was; it made me feel like I was watching someone's ridiculous drug-fueled hallucination instead of Uchiage Hanabi.
The voice actors for the two main characters are actually live action stars rather than anime voice actors. I wouldn't have even known this if I didn't look it up. It was a bit odd to see famous voice actors play the side characters, but the only one that I noticed sounding off was Yuusuke's voice actor (who is an anime VA), who sounded really fake. There was a particular line when the boys arrived at the festival that sounded so bad both me and my friend turned to each other in confusion (we were wondering if he sounded that way on purpose to be sarcastic, but no, it was an actual line).
Characters: I know this is not an original work so maybe cutting some characters was out of the question, but everyone except for the main characters Nazuna and Narumichi, the male rival Yuusuke, and Nazuna's parents were unnecessary. Okay, since some of the other friends sparked the "Are fireworks round or flat?" debate that the movie is named after, I guess they are necessary too, but you don't need more than 2 of them.
While I've already stated they were unnecessary, there was a particular character that definitely should not have been included. The homeroom teacher (and her boyfriend, another teacher at the school) got some screen time in the beginning and a little at the end and I can't find anything that they add to the film other than to make those watching feel uncomfortable. The homeroom teacher is female and has a large chest, and there is a 2-minute long scene when the characters arrive at school of them guessing her bra size (one of the friends has a crush (if you can call it that?) on the teacher, which is what sparks the... discussion), then again while in homeroom the student makes a comment about the teacher's chest to her face and instead of getting reprimanded is slightly teased and the whole class laughs at his "joke." My friend and I found this to be very uncomfortable and it definitely made me feel worse about the movie. I can't remember the character's ages but they seemed to be in middle school if anything.
As for the main characters, they seemed to be pretty generic. Nazuna was a quiet "mysterious" girl that the two main boys, Narimichi (brown hair) and Yuusuke (black hair) have a crush on. I wasn't paying close enough attention so I'm not sure if they had a crush on her before a certain day or if they knew both of them had a crush on her. Narimichi seemed a little nicer and more awkward than Yuusuke.
Story: Honestly, the story blurb from Wikipedia was the entire movie. Other than that, I found a hard time understanding the motives behind the character's actions. I'm not entirely sure how to explain this without some slight spoilers for the beginning part, so for those curious I've put my explanation (skip the one paragraph if you don't want to read it) below:
I may have missed the explanation, but it is established that the character Yuusuke likes Nazuna. She asks him to go to the firework festival with her. He agrees, but then later blows her off. I'm sure there was some sort of explanation, but then later in the movie when Narimichi "redoes" the day and gets Nazuna to ask him out instead, Yuusuke flips out. I realize he has no knowledge in this redo that he was previously asked out, but his character should remain the same. Why did he freak out that Narimichi was asked out when he would have blown her off anyway? I'm sure there was some sort of explanation but it was quiet early in the movie and I must have missed it.
The story also suffered from poor writing at parts, whether it was from the original source or added in this adaptation I don't know. The movie also felt like it started to drag along towards the end when it lost its charm and it began to leap off the deep end. Two scenes that particularly stood out to be as bad are in the middle of the movie. The next two paragraphs are going to have SLIGHT spoilers, but I will describe the scenes in very general terms, so they're not huge spoilers.
Slight spoilers for this scene: Nazuna's parents figure out she is trying to run away and are dragging her away. Narumichi tries to help her and runs forward and grabs the father's arm yelling for him to let go of Nazuna. Instead of shaking off this tiny middle school kid like the large father he appears to be, he whips around and punches Narimichi in the face (yes, in the face, and Narimichi has bruises for a while). The boy then drops to the floor and the scene cuts 2 minutes in the future to show Nazuna's parents driving off with her in the car and Narumichi still on the floor. Wait, what? This dad just punched a kid. who immediately dropped to the floor and didn't appear to be able to get up, and left? What kind of world is this? The parents didn't seem THAT bad; definitely not perfect, but we've seen worse.
Another scene not far from the previous one is when Nazuna's parents are in the car driving on the highway next to the train she got on. The train exits a tunnel when Nazuna is standing in front of the window and people, including the parents in their car, see her standing and begin to frantically chase after her. Narimichi then redoes this scene and makes Nazuna sit down so that she is not seen. We are then shown a shot of her parents crying in the car and don't appear to be chasing the train as frantically. Why? They literally just saw her get on the train, and this is a rural town in the middle of the evening, it's not like they don't know which train she got on? The train also didn't stop so they actually should know for 100% certainty that she is still on it. But apparently since they can't see her in the window, they don't think she is on it. As a result, they aren't waiting for her at the next stop, which is what would make sense, right?
Overall enjoyment: The most subjective part of the rating. Honestly, for me this ties in very closely with the story, because if there are huge plot holes, I won't enjoy it. I can enjoy listening to the movie and looking at the pretty pictures, but I won't really enjoy the movie itself if there are some glaring flaws. Because of the terrible writing (in my opinion) and flow, I will have to rate my enjoyment and overall score a lot lower.
Final disclaimer: I am not a fluent or native Japanese speaker, but I was able to understand almost all that was being said, but I thought I would put this disclaimer here because as a non-native speaker, there are undoubtedly subtle things I missed.
I can describe this movie in 2 words: Almost perfect. Why? Because while it had the potential to be great, it had small mishaps that led to its inability to reach perfection.
Before I begin, let me just say that I watched this in the cinemas 3 weeks after its premiere at United Cinemas. And inside the theater, there were only 3 people. And so I began to wonder, "Is the movie not good after all?". My opinion then changed after the movie ended.
So what made it almost perfect? Was it the plot? As far as I can tell, there was nothing wrong with the sequence
of the plot. It's a slice of life romance with a hint of magic. It's a style we're all familiar with, and so it wasn't difficult to follow.
Was it the characters? I don't believe so. The characters were appealing and memorable. Heck, they almost resemble real people. Even the voice acting was so natural that it didn't sound like it was scripted. Perhaps it's because it was based on a live-action drama.
Was it the music? Absolutely not. The BGM and soundtracks were amazing. Without the music, it wouldn't have the dramatic atmosphere during each scene. Also, that ending theme was so good that I ended up listening to it when I got home.
So what was the flaw? The animation. Don't get me wrong. The settings were ridiculously well-made, almost resembling real life locations. The signature Shaft "head turns" were apparent, so you know it didn't come from a panel manga. But what really destroyed my experience was the sudden 2d to 3d transition. I understand that 3d makes everything easier, but they would've at least used it at the appropriate scenes. There was no reason to use 3d for a bike scene or walking scene.Also, the out-of-place exaggerated reactions. I know it's common for anime to add in exaggerated expressions, but the movie didn't need to include it because it was already perfect without it.
So yes, as much as I want to give it a perfect score, these mistakes blew it for me. But in the end, I did enjoy watching the movie. And even if people think the whole movie is flat or round, I'm still glad that I saw a spectacular display: a display of fireworks.
I just finished watching "Uchiage Hanabi" in theaters. It has been out for about two weeks, so the theater was about half full in one of the smaller rooms. To be honest, I am not sure what to think of this movie. While this work is absolutely visually beautiful, there were several sections where CG was used, likely to speed up production (hopefully this will be fixed in the DVD / Blu-ray release). Story-wise, it was pretty slow, but really interesting for me. It was pretty deep, playing with the concept of divergent worlds: how each decision we make can affect the
entire world. This movie give the main character the chance to go back, make different decisions, and see how it plays out. There were several humorous moments to break up the serious atmosphere, and I think they were well timed, and flowed with the story. On the other-hand, the movie ended abruptly. No joke, this was like partial resolution, wake up the next day, end. It feels like it ended two-thirds through the movie. I always want to see more, but this really does just feel unfinished. As I was leaving the theater, many of the other viewer commented that they didn't understand the movie.
In conclusion, while I have major issues with the ending, I would suggest watching it on Hulu or Crunchyroll. I would not recommend paying to see it in theaters, and only buy the movie if you are a major fan.
*Disclaimer: Japanese is not my first language, and while I do speak it conversationally, there could be a lot that I missed. The film was not subtitled in Japanese or English.
I write this review after returning from a 40 mile drive to see it in my not so local cinema.
What's to be expected of Shaft on the silver screen? With the recent sucess of films such as Kimi no na wa & A Silent Voice I feel like people were expecting too much from this.
The story was fairly generic, centred around a highschool romance and a coming of age crisis with bits added on for special effects. While the implementation was done well I think, the actual plot itself was lacking in any real substance, but none the less, enjoyable.
The visuals were fantastic
excluding the odd bit of awkward CGI animation, though this is to be expected. Lot's of pretty colours, the odd headtilt here and there. It is worth watching for the animation alone. though sometimes the character design was a bit iffy.
The sound track was good, though it didn't invoke emotion as with other movies/series which is always something very important to me as a viewer.
Overall, This is a movie that while enjoyable, isn't life changing. One thing to be noted from this is that the community need to lower their expectations a bit.
But hy, As a westerner, does my opinion really matter?
Shaft thought "hmm how can we make the popular time reversal due to a certain circumstance trope, but not copy what's come before" A high school romance !
I have just returned from watching this in the Cinema, and i felt compelled to write a quick review. I won't be going into detail about the couple next to me getting a little to involved with the romance genre, because that wasn't the films fault.
I have to give Shaft some credit, the visuals and backdrops were absolutely stunning, especially at the beginning. Though I wouldn't place it upon the same tier as some other recent anime
films (You know the ones) but that isn't a criticism in the slightest.
For the sake of the review, I'm going to call the main characters as Monogatari Copy (Female) and Monogatari Copy (Male), anyone familiar with Shafts art style would instantly recognise some blatant comparisons, and yes there was a couple head tilts.
I did feel that the characters were a little underdeveloped, though the limitations of a 90 minute film are obvious, it just would have been great to see the potential utilised. The comedic moments sprinkled throughout did manage to get a few blowing out your nostrils in appreciation and grins across the audience, but there wasn't any other emotions being extracted.
I only intended to write up a quick review, so to wrap up, Fireworks (as it was printed on my ticket) was a nice film that had a great potential, but was enjoyable never the less, if you're looking for a quick and easy to watch film, give it a watch.
As always, in the end, as a westerner does my opinion really matter anyway?
*The ending credits song was great, but i feel I may have heard it somewhere before...Oh well*
Just a heads up, but the story was really bad and confusing. Just because some of the people who contributed helped make Kimi no na wa doesn't mean it'll be good.
The art was alright, but Shaft's other works were better. You could say they wasted their talent on it.
No bad opinion on the sound, it wasn't bad.
The characters? Hated each and every one of them! They were all so annoying and bland, and they didn't even improve in the end.
Overall, it was a disappointment. I recommend you listen to the soundtrack online instead of watching this disaster.
Putting aside my dissatisfaction with SHAFT bastardising an original work, Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka? (Henceforth Fireworks) is a complete wet paper bag of a SHAFT production.
Fireworks is a production by the illustrious SHAFT, and that itself skyrockets expectations for Fireworks to a level that that it did not reach. Fireworks reminds me of the Monogatari series in many ways: the design of the female protagonists, the "open for interpretation" and indirect-ness of storytelling. It's so similar to the point that Musician Koremasa Uno mentions that the film is one that felt unlike its original scriptwriters, and more aligned to
the works of SHAFT.
This is a big no-no, because if it does there is no point in doing an adaptation instead of an original work. Adaptations can change from the source material, but not to the point it discredits the original work.
Story-wise, it resembles the Monogatari series in a sense a "open for interpretation" style is used predominantly in Fireworks, a style not uncommon in Japanese literature, but always accompanied by deep and detailed development for characters, like the works of Haruki Murakami.
Fireworks makes the mistake of offering no substantial character development in any of its cast. There is no desire to interpret an open plot if there is no attachment to your characters. Take Nazuna for an example: the backstory for our main heroine (and eye-candy due to design similarities with a particular main heroine from SHAFT as well) is not developed at all. Her motives are confusing, and it should have given her an air of mystery. Sadly this is all dispelled soon after when the motive is plain shallow. Her reasons to run away from home is one so bland it is hard to feel for the character.
Norimichi, our male MC is even worse, for his motives for helping Nazuna bas been thoughtlessly condensed to something along the line of the fact that he has a crush on her. No backstory is given, and romance between the two MCs is flat. There is really nothing much to say anymore about it. Motive of characters has been thrown out of the window as well.
I don't even want to start with the side characters.
When your narrative is one that with interpretation a prominent part of your storytelling, having a bland cast of characters simply result in a lack of interest in the narrative. Already, the main cause of conflict in the storyline has crumbled to dust, why would I want to speculate and interpret your story at all?
I blame most of this on the directing of Fireworks. In a movie production, you are given a limited amount of time to tell a story. Hence, it is critical that one should squeeze as much content into that amount of time as possible. However, Fireworks has SHAFTed this completely. Many scenes in the movie were too long and unnecessary, to a point that it has hurt character development, and long enough that viewers lose their suspension of disbelief in an animation. This is a feat, but not one to be proud of though. SPOILERS in the next paragraph, but a small one and it proves my point.
[SPOILER START] In a train scene where Norimichi asks Nazuna about what she would work as and she replies an Idol, we jump to an absurdly long scene of Nazuna imagining her life as an Idol in CG that looks like it came from No Game no Life. Firstly, please do not change your art-style between your anime, it is jarring. Secondly, this particularly long scene does not add anything to the current storyline. Thirdly, it even downplays the whole tension of Firework's plot to a point I find it laughable.[SPOILER ENDS]
In addition to this, Fireworks did not present the level of animation SHAFT is very well known for. There are scenes of sloppy work like blank faces and "frog-hands", and jarring CG with no business being in the movie. Compared to previous works, Fireworks actually feels rushed.
Though, I have to admit that the ending is compelling enough for viewers to speculate, though given how little we can feel for the characters, the frustration is greater than the desire to consider the admittedly interesting takes on the ending scene of Fireworks.
Overall, there really is nothing redeeming about Fireworks . I truly felt I wasted money buying tickets for it, and I cannot say its good enough to sit through it on a streaming site. For those familiar with the Monogatari series, Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka? really does feel like a poor imitation, and one that has garnered too much hype, and thus leading to greater disappointment.
“A purehearted, sincere romance that showcases how bittersweet young love can be.”
“A trainwreck of a movie that unyieldingly chugs on till the final climax and disappoints.”
» Today I watched uchiage hanabi in theatres. (English official subs)
To be totally honest I only watched it because of the theme song and because shaft.
» My verdict:
plot was flimsy and bad, characters were bland as hell. BUT! It’s actually not that bad. The overall ambience was done well, and you will be intrigued to find out more (well some will find it boring as the pace is very slice of life-ish)
» The plot. What plot? The whole movie
didn’t make any sense. Two boys (black/brown hair) in love with one girl, which was established in 5 minutes. Then boom swimming thing, eloping (???), time leap, re zero, insta-love, movie end. NANI?? I was in the theatre, half the movie had passed but I had no idea where this movie was going. I know it’s a romance, but the romance was... missing. Like it’s a mystery movie, but the detective is still looking for a case. You know this movie is not good when the movie is near its end and you still have no idea what the fuck is happening. And then you remember yes it’s a romance and you nod to reassure yourself it really is one.
The end was very very unsatisfying. It was like “yesterday I got assaulted by illuminati people and today I went grocery shopping. The end.” Very abrupt. I only knew it was the end because theme song started playing.
I’ll throw in a good note here: the last scene (THAT scene) was absolutely gorgeous, the whole atmosphere was dreamy and beautiful. The ending also left me thinking. The movie just ends like that and you’re left with “what happened to them?” (Spoiler: did they die? a dream? a parallel universe? I thought about it, actually the truth is less glamourous.)
The plot may not be the most original (huh) or amazing, but it is bearable (good) and it will suck you in, you will be engrossed in it.
» Character-wise, this movie failed in this aspect completely. Maybe I’m not reading into it deep enough, but each character’s motives were unexplained or unclear. Their personalities were very one-dimensional, and there wasn’t any development over the course of the story.
Let me try to describe Norimichi. Looks like 12 year old, exaggerated reactions, likes video games... has friends.... likes nazuna. Black haired kid: no idea what his name is, likes nazuna too, friend with mc... uhh...
Nazuna is a typical cool girl. Adrift, detached, pretty, family problems. Looking at my descriptions, you’ll see you know almost nothing about the characters. I know some people can stomach this kind of characterisation, because the romance is all that matters (in the end). it is a light hearted romance after all, not a study on human psychology. While I thought it was the worst part of the film, you might be okay with it.
» The negativity is over. I will move onto sound and art. The sound direction is excellent. There are no standout tracks (except for the insert songs) but nothing felt out of place. They all managed to evoke a sense of longing, beauty, young love that sort. ALSO UCHIAGE HANABI THE SONG IS INCREDIBLE 10/10 would listen again
One thing is that I thought the norimichi’s voice sounded really weird. I don’t know if it was the theatre’s fault but it was a bit echo-y (unlike the other characters).
» Art direction is wonderful. I loved it. The movie had Shaft’s signature flair, and a great art style to boot. To everyone who hates head tilts, interesting cuts, and weird angles, jeez. For those complaining about the CGI used, it’s not as bad as you might think. There was only one scene I thought cgi was used weirdly (the first bike scene), but I thought overall the cgi didn’t really hurt the film.
Broadly speaking, hmm, I liked it. but I would not watch again.
After inspection: It was underwhelming and lacklustre. It gave me what I wanted (song+shaft) but nothing else.
Though I’m not sure why all the poor reviews on this movie, it’s really not as bad as it is made out to be. Though the characters were, let’s be honest, poorly developed, and the story following a somewhat cliché path (along the lines of re;zero and erased) this anime has a rich message if given some thought about it. While the ending may not have been appealing to some, I found this to be one of the most important aspects of it, especially considering the metaphorical sense the movie contained. Heavily implied by “if” showing up multiple times
on the ball, then proceeding to move to an alternate universe (refuted by the fireworks) the movie was essentially a metaphor for how we miss out on many opportunities because we are too busy contemplating ‘what if’ questions; things that make us reconsider something. Even if we try to change things, if we waste opportunities given to us, just like the ending, no matter how much we wish things to change, nothing will if we don’t act in certain situations.
Uchiage Hanabi is Shaft's attempt to capitalize on the success of romance movies with stupid sci-fi elements randomly injected into them. What results out of this is a confusing and pointless movie that is still enjoyable.
Story (5/10): I never thought I'd be saying this, but this movie's plot is so confusing that it's hard for me to call it bad. The main character can time travel by throwing some sort of firework ball or whatever it was. So, every time something screws up, he just goes back in time. The problem with this is that by the end of the movie, the plot has moved
nearly nowhere and nothing has happened. Just like usual, the injection of sci-fi into what could have been a regular romance movie added unneeded confusion. There are glints of deep moments which combine the messages of Kimi no Na wa and Yojouhan, but these really aren't expanded upon much and are pretty much irrelevant.
Characters (4/10): Honestly I can't name any obvious positive traits for the characters. They're bland and forgettable, and their motivations are pretty much nonexistent. The characters are pretty much tools used to convey the plot, and nothing more.
Art (10/10): Incredible art and animation. Many people apparently found the bits of CGI that were thrown in awkward, but I really didn't mind them.
Sound (9/10): The soundtrack is super good, and the ED theme is a 10/10. I keep seeing some sort of trend where visually stunning movies with amazing soundtracks have questionable/bad plots and characters. The voice acting is superb. You've got big names in the anime industry like Mamoru Miyano and Kana Hanazawa voicing the side characters. On the other hand, you've got decently famous actors voicing the two main characters.
Enjoyment (7/10): Normally bad plots ruin enjoyment for me, but this one really didn't. The plot was extremely confusing but didn't jump out as bad enough to make the movie unenjoyable. That, combined with the extremely good technical elements, made me enjoy this movie.
Overall (7/10): In the end, all that really matters is enjoyment. In order to not enjoy this movie you'd have to either:
A. Have way too high expectations
or B. Overthink the plot
NO SPOILERS - A review of "Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka?"
"Should we see it from the side or the bottom? Will they look flat or round depending on where you view them from?"
As the continously asked question above - in which acts like a theme - suggests, this movie is to be viewed from a analyctic discourse. It is not to be taken lightly, as many elements of the movie bears heavy allegorism and metaphorical value which are central to the overall understanding of the plot, hence many people do not understand the ending and main aspects.
The story itself, may
appear rather simple at first glance. The story revolves around the question "What if", which is NOT to be associated with "Kimi no na wa" as much as many people would like to. With that said, it is of relevance to look beyond what meets the eye. With the use of allegorism, the story itself is excellent which leaves you thinking about what could have been, but also the importance of not being stuck in such thoughts and the relevance of moving forward.
The characters themeselves are very believable, and I can definitely see my friends and myself in them. There is definitely complexity to most of them, and more depth to them than meets the eye. It all correlates to the complexity of the plot, and how you have to view it from "the side".
The visuals are stunning, beautiful key frames that could serve as backgrounds and make for great screenshots. However, there are occasionally some emerge-breaking CGI-scenes - specifically the biking scenes. Despite those, the overall visuals easily make up for it.
To summarize, "Uchiage Hanabi" is a movie with a lot of depth, stunning visuals, beautifully composed music and is definitely worth a watch. Please note to give this movie a fair chance as a STAND-ALONE, with other words, do not start watching this thinking this will be just like "Kimi no na wa". WHilst both movies are great, this one in my opinion is something completely different. "Kimi no na wa" holds your hand throughout the entire movie, whilst "Uchiage Hanabi" set you free to interpret things however you want.
I went to a special screening of this and watched without knowing anything about it. I actually liked, since it's a well-intentioned coming-of-age story with some magical realism as a plot device to make the story happen.
The basic premise is somewhat close to Bill Murray's Groundhog Day, with the difference that the day isn't fully reset, but it restarts with some kind of checkpoint, just to correct the last mistake the main duo, that is running away from their boring routine, made.
The main complaint about this movie is about the "density" of the characters. Let me tell you something: you don't have space
to develop multi-layered characters in a short story like a movie. You need more time to make it. What we need to understand is that both protagonists are upset with their lives and they want to change it. The main mistake, I think, is the way the movie presents the boy first as the main character instead of the girl. Without this choice, we wouldn't feel like something is still missing at the end.
The sound is Ok and the same goes for the art, besides the ugly CG that they used for almost everything.
What matters is that the movie is entertaining. I'd rather watch a simple movie like this one instead of a pretentious deep and complex story that makes me bored.
Looks like people are butthurt that this isn't a new Your Name than anything.
"At that time, if only- if only I had...!" - Norimichi Shimada
In this review, I will make several references to a "gimmick" in this movie. It refers to a surprising element in the film that drives the plot and its core theme. Since the preview does an excellent job of concealing it, I do not want to spoil the gimmick in case people want to experience it for themselves completely blind, but it is difficult to talk about the story without referring to it, and I am sure once the movie hits more western theaters, knowledge of the gimmick will be as much of a
secret as the identity of Saber in Fate/stay night in the English-speaking anime community.
Numbers in brackets refer to information in the spoiler section. The spoiler section contains more commentary related to the gimmick, which would spoil the gimmick if you don't know what it is.
Tags: Drama, coming of age, (slight) romance, 
You might like this movie if you:
+ enjoy drama sprinkled with romance
+ appreciate Shaft-style animation
+ like stories without fanservice
+ enjoy movies that feel like live-action and contain few anime clichés
+ have had something happen in your life you want to change very much
+ are fond of relationships set in high school
You might not like this movie if you:
+ dislike bad CGI
+ hate open endings
+ dislike the concept of the "gimmick"
+ want relationships that develop slowly and organically
+ want to watch a show heavy in romance
+ don't like foreshadowing that is about as subtle as a sledgehammer
Similar anime I would recommend:
- Anything from Makoto Shinkai (esp. Kimi no na wa if you enjoyed the "gimmick")
- ef: a tale of melodies (if you want a more "romantic" dramatic romance)
Despite some key flaws in the plot and character development, Uchiage Hanabi was able to convey to me an enjoyable and interesting story about adolescence.
For the romance fans out there, don't expect the romance of the movie to be the focus. You will probably be a bit disappointed with how little there is.
The following section contains the breakdown of each category and score justifications.
The art of Uchiage Hanabi definitely has a Kizumonogatari-feel to it. The animation is slightly wonky at times, but also I feel like it fits quite well in certain sections of the story. There is plenty of the surreal art that Shaft is known for, and they complement the story quite well, enhancing the impact of some scenes and making it distinct from an "animated live-action movie".
Shaft is known for randomly pasting photos into their anime, and this movie is no exception. Shaft also opted to use some CGI as well, and while some of the CGI is less than stellar, there were some sections where I legitimately could not tell if something was a CGI or a photograph, making it feel like a constant game of "Fake or Foto" (For example, that glass cup. Is the glass cup CGI? I might never know). I do not recommend you watch this anime if you are very sensitive towards CGI, but personally I have a fairly high tolerance towards bad CGI, so this doesn't bother me very much.
Overall, the animation is standard. It is not bad, but it is also not a significant improvement from Kizumonogatari and doesn't experiment with anything revolutionary. Hence, my final score for this section is 9/10.
The music in Uchiage Hanabi is on point. The covers of the originals by DAOKO were really catchy, and I sometimes still catch myself humming the tune randomly. If I only considered music in this section, this would be an extremely easy 10/10. Unfortunately, the voice acting is not quite on the same level as the music. It's rather weird because some of my favorite anime voice actors are in the movie (Kana Hanazawa, Mamoru Miyano), but the voice actors of the main characters are voiced by live-action stars. Perhaps the director was going for a more realistic portrayal in a style similar to Shinkai, but somehow I feel like they missed the mark.
I don't particularly dislike live-action stars voicing anime (I have no issues with the voice actors of Kimi no Na wa), but I personally feel like the voices of the main characters do not fit very well. I can't help but think that a more "traditional" voice actor like Aoi Yuuki (Kayo from ERASED) could pull of a mysterious and conflicted Nazuna more effectively than Hirose Suzu, and I feel like swapping the voice actors of Yuusuke and Norimichi would enhance both characters. Hence, a single point deduction for a score of 9/10 for sound.
If I had to summarize Uchiage Hanabi in two words, the words would be "if only". The entire movie is devoted to answering the question "what if that happened differently?" We have all had our fair share of unfortunate events in our youth. Perhaps it was something out of your control, perhaps it was something you could change. Uchiage Hanabi's message is about how to stop wondering and start doing. This is something I personally strive for, so this premise holds great appeal to me.
I think it's interesting how the portrayal of themes in this animated version of Uchiage Hanabi differs from the original. Although there are some plot-related similarities between these two versions, the message and the themes of the anime are quite different compared to the original. Perhaps the difference is simply due to different directors having different opinions on how to answer the question "if only". However, it could also be due to evolving social views in Japanese society. Who knows...
Curiously enough, the words "if only" not only capture the essence of the story of Uchiage Hanabi, but also the essence of my feelings towards the plot. I hate open endings. I suppose it is personal preference, but the movie just ended out of nowhere. When the credits started rolling I was just like "uhh... that's it?" If only they could have expanded on the ending just a little bit, I would have been able to raise the score up by two points.
The film also felt quite rushed, especially towards the second half. A lot of things happen that are rather confusing. The plot ramps up in speed extremely quickly. I got a bit lost as I was losing track of what was happening. Coupled with a less-than-stellar ending, I cannot give the story more than a 6.
The characters... leave a lot to be desired. Nazuna is pretty distinct and is fleshed out pretty well. On the other hand, the development of every other character seems to be minimal if not nonexistent, including Yuusuke and Norimichi, arguably the two most important characters in the movie after Nazuna. Nazuna has her own interesting personality and quirks that make her pretty enjoyable to watch. Norimichi, on the other hand, you don't exactly know much about him.
Comparing the depth of Nazuna's character development to Norimichi's is like comparing the depth of a book to the synopsis of the book on Wikipedia. It's not that Norimichi has no character development at all, it's just that his character unfortunately a bit plain.
Normally, I do not mind this very much. However, when contrasted with Nazuna's character, Norimichi's lack of development becomes really problematic. This contrast creates some unfortunate side effects when the characters interact, causing the relationships between the characters to appear really shallow. This makes the whole movie basically about Nazuna. Everyone other than Nazuna is rather forgettable.
I watched this movie on August 18th. This review was written about three weeks later, and I have all but forgotten the personality of every character except Nazuna. Granted, three weeks is pretty long, but normally I remember key moments that illustrate personalities of characters for much longer than three weeks. This did not happen with the shallow characters in Uchiage Hanabi.
In addition to an unbalanced allocation of character development, the movie also suffers from having their development happen within a small amount of in-universe, which just exacerbates the existing problems with shallow relationships. Despite all of that though, I can't discount the fact that I really liked learning more about Nazuna. Her development was stellar and deserves credit. Therefore, I have decided to give this section a 6/10.
Despite all the problems with the characters, the ending, the rushed development, etc., I enjoyed it. It was a nice film. It had a premise that was very appealing to me, and it was able to explore that premise in an interesting way. It had a pretty interesting message, and Nazuna's character was interesting. Therefore, 8/10.
Overall Rating: 8/10
I rate anime I watch by enjoyment and nothing else.
******* Spoiler Section Below ********
If you are reading the spoiler section, I assume you know what the gimmick is. Last chance to turn back.
******* Begin Spoiler Section ********
If you are reading the spoiler section, I assume you know what that the gimmick I was referring to the whole time is the glass ball.
 Elements of: magical realism
I understand the presence of the glass ball and why it's there, but I really dislike its treatment as simply a plot device in the film. The movie attempts to portray it as something metaphorical or mystical, but I can't help but feel like the ball just doesn't quite fit in there. It feels a bit out of place. That being said, I don't have a good solution on how the glass ball should be treated.
It doesn't matter what world we are in, as long as we're together
This review is not spoiler free read with caution (This review will probably make you not want to watch the movie anymore)
The story was not very well done. It was of no relation to fireworks whatsoever. The main target for the characters was to find out the shape of the firework. But... the movie went circles around the main focus, dragging the movie time.
The movie is more based on rewinding time and is more of an atmospheric movie that didn't actually have a plot. The movie was extremely predictable for me, what
comes next etc. This may be because I watch alot of anime but... I can tell by the story that this anime was dragged. The writer literally threw in as many alternate universes he can think of to drag the movie time (at least from my perspective)
I could still understand where the writer was going at. He wanted the MCs Norimichi and Nazuna to sort of keep separating and eventually end up together (every romance anime ever :^P) but he didn't have a good plot. With that said, the story was pretty creative, using a firework shell to reset time? Never heard of that before. But even so... Bad plot.
According to other viewers I went with, the movie was difficult to understand. Because of the many alternate universes, they cannot tell from the real world and the alternate world (I can, but I have film education and I watch alot of anime) so it might not appeal to many viewers.
The ending was also a cliffhanger, a poorly done one. Many people could not predict what would happen next (to me it was pretty obvious but I practically had to explain to all my friends what happened...)
The art is what you'd expect from Shaft! Flawless! You can even say I just wanted to watch because of the art. But, the art could not depict the story, unlike "Shelter" by A-1 Pictures, the art itself wasn't enough to explain the messy plot the movie had.
I literally went there for the music, followed by the art. You can even say that I paid to watch the art and to listen to the well-synced music. The singing was also amazing! I was literally waiting for DAOKO to start singing her 5 minute song. They put her song at the end of the movie so I basically watched the entire movie because I was waiting for DAOKO.
The characters were poorly developed. At the end of the movie, I still felt like I didn't know the characters and they didn't even know each other. No relationship development between the MCs, they literally just like each other when they just met... No character background was even given too... They were a mess.
All I can say is...
I watched because of the graphics and the music.
The noticeable use of trains was also wrongly used. Trains should normally help emphasise on relationships that cannot happen and eventually happens but the trains in this movie was just a way of escape and getting to know each other better...
The trains might be used because the MCs were trying to separate themselves from the SCs I honestly don't know about this one...
But if its about getting to know each other better, I recommend an empty bus.
This movie was badly done.
I heard people saying it was rushed... My ass, it was dragged...
While animation wise it looks like a couple of TV episodes the film is still a great alternative to Your Name.
Most of the great animated scenes can be seen in the music video par a scene near the ending.
It feels like two or so somewhat boring slice of life episodes and then turns into a time travel like story.
The music was great though.
While in some moments you can feel Akiyuki Shinbo's style the rest feels like some low budget CGI weekly series. Shame but the movie itself was pretty great.
Some of the scenes are cheesy like the musical scene out of nowhere that
looks like some vaporwave video.
Was a decent movie but it likely would have worked better as a TV movie ala Ocean Waves than being released at the cinemas.
In an age where beautiful art in anime movies catches the eyes of audiences, "Fireworks" is not unlike other anime movies in this sense. The reason why I had watched this movie in the first place was because of the art in the trailer alongside the song by Daoko.
Nevertheless, the entire movie plays as if someone got excited over the age of eye-catching anime movies that they forgot to actually include actual content alongside the good soundtrack and beautiful art.
If you're just in it to see a slideshow of pretty CG alongside soothing music - I'd say to go watch it. But if
you're looking for something more? Please rethink if this is really how you'd like to spend the next 90 minutes of your life.
Story? What Story?
I'm pretty sure that if the sounds of horror that resonated at the cinema when the Daoko song started playing and the credits started rolling was any indication of how people felt about the story, it was definitely a good indication that most people were as horrified about the plot as I was.
The most important thing about any series is the plot. Sure, you can add imagery or symbolism in a movie - but if there's no plot or any development in the actual movie? It adds no depth and leaves viewers even more confused.
The entire movie rolled as if someone just wanted to make a movie from the concept of the symbolism of Fireworks and then forgot that they had to include actual plot to make the concept be fulfilling to viewers. From the numerous plotholes to the weak dialogues that added no depth to the storyline (if there was any), it was no wonder that majority of the people at the cinema I was at was disappointed.
As other reviewers have mentioned, the synopsis on the Wikipedia article is literally the plot - or the trailer for the movie.
I admit, the art was still gorgeous throughout the entire movie. If you enjoyed the look of the art style in the trailer, you'll really enjoy the different landscapes portrayed throughout the movie.
What threw me off however, was the random CGI at multiple times in the movie that didn't make sense.
Studio SHAFT did well in this aspect.
Great soundtrack that does not disappoint.
Throughout the entire movie, you get music which is very fitting for the scenery or the action that is occurring. However, I'm disappointed that they did not feature the Daoko song as a more prominent aspect of the movie. Used correctly, I believe the trailer song could've added more depth in the movie.
When the most exciting dialogue to come out of a character's mouth is in regards to pooping/tetanus - you know the characterisation is terrible.
I don't know how many times I heard the following dialogue;
Character A: "Are fireworks flat or round?"
Character B: "They're flat"
Character C: "Fireworks are round"
I'm pretty sure the above dialogue occurred at least half a dozen times throughout the entire movie, and added nothing to the plot itself other than the symbolism of the changing day.
Look, I love a good time travel/alternate universe/groundhog day plot element - but there's an extent in which you have characters commenting on the symbolising change in environment in this vague way. It gets boring, and we don't even know that much of the characters back stories.
Honestly, when I don't even know the names of the characters other than "oh the funniest character is a secondary character voiced by Miyano Mamoru", it's a let down in characterisation. There was a lot of backstory hinted at the heroine, but as it was never fully explored - both the male and female protagonist ended up being viewed as one-dimensional bland teenagers that we don't really care about.
Honestly? My friends and I felt so disappointed watching this movie. I did not have any expectations and this was a huge let down.
Most scenes I could guess what was going to happen because it was a cliche playing out on screen. Time loops can be either done extremely well or extremely poor and this was the latter.
I could not enjoy this movie over the fact that I was bored, did not understand what was happening nor did not care about the characters because they were not explored/likeable.
Please rethink your need to view this movie. What are you looking for in a movie? If it's just pretty visuals and a storyline that can be wrapped up in 5 minutes but dragged on for 90 minutes? Go ahead and watch this.
But if you're looking for anything else - this is definitely not for you.
Spoiler free: Go in without the expectation that this will get an acadamy award and knock out "Kimi No Na Wa" and you will enjoy the movie for what it is. 10/10 would recommend to watch.
Animation: Theres some mix of traditional hand-drawn animation and CG, and after watching Gigguk's video on the matter I went in with a more critical eye. At first I was taken aback but I then started to appreciate how the two art styles mixed. Shaft did a well job in this respect-- some of the scenes are what you would expect from a
high budget piece.
Whats this movie about: The movie dwells with some coming of age material and challenges some notions of brotherhood, but more than anything I feel it gives you a different view of slice of life. Usually slice of life has your "misunderstandings" and problem solving, but here we see what Japanese boys would probably talk about in an actual conversation (starkly different, and at times funny, from what you typically see in anime)
Overall its about an 8, absolutely worth the watch, and a good movie in its own right. But comparing it to masterpieces is an unfair assessment that results in the lower review scores on this site.
I'll save you some time if you really want to, just watch the music video, but after watching the music video, don't let it persuade you into watching the movie, I made that mistake, and I can almost guarantee you'll be disappointed. Also a music video is a great way to advertise a movie or show, I mean it persuaded me.
After watching Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka? I've realized a few things here, so I'll list them.
Tried very hard to be The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, why you ask? It's rather obvious with the whole ball as a
sort of time travel mechanism, a time travel theme is not an original or stolen idea, (Silent Voice) but the way they did it was stolen. Not a major reason why this movie wasn't all that great however. It did make a twist to the mechanism in that it seems as though it creates a different timeline per say, I won't go more in depth cause I don't want to spoil anything else, but you'll understand what I mean.
Next is the art, although very beautiful, it's resemblance to the Monogatari series is so close that it makes it seem like this is a special episode, I know it's made by the same studio but c'mon man the two mc's are literally Identical to Araragi and Senjougahara, literally the first thing that came to mind when I saw the music video. It had a couple of choppy scenes were the anime had bad animation in it, seemed like an anime on a really low budget in those scenes, but overall the scenery was quiet beautiful.
I was very disappointed with the character development, there was next to none, none of the characters personalities were really shown, and the voice actors were badly chosen, at least for the boys, their voices were very deep for their age and size and were very monotone.
The movie left many questions unanswered, which is fine, but lots of unanswered questions were also major plot points, and the movie seemed very unfinished, not that it was just left on a cliffhanger and led the viewer to think what happened, but it seriously gave no hint to the outcome of everything and how can these kids fall in love in just 1 day, let's be real here, that is super unlikely. I have my own takes on what happened at the end of the movie but I'll keep that to the mind.
Here's some advice, just watch the music video, it's well worth your time unlike this trainwreck.
Story: 4 Didn't stay on track
Art: 8 It was good just too identical to the monogatari series
Sound: 9 I loved the ending song choice
Character: 5 No character development, but the characters were likeable
Enjoyment: 7 Although it did manage to disappoint me, It was still a good way to pass time
This anime film I liked so much, the history is good, I liked it so much, the final can be bad for someone else, this is normal in the Genki Kawamura's movies, because they don't show "the final", how so "the final"? It leaves you imagine what happen next, like: Two people get start dating, the anime ends here, without show if they married, if they broke, I like it. I think that is the reason to so many people hates this film, if you like anime "without a final", it's a good movie, if no, don’t even waste your time with it.
story is a bit confused, that have some time that I didn't know what was happening, but after I understand, something isn't explained, but it doesn't disturb anything.
The only good thing about this movie is the music. And occasionally the art. I'd hesitate to even call this a "by the numbers" production, because I don't think it even reaches that level. It's like it has all of the elements it needs to be moderately successful, but never properly develops or explores any of them. Worst of all, a lot of the time, this movie is just plain fuckin' boring.
I realise the average rating for this movie on MAL is less than 7, which is basically the same thing as holding up a big-ass sign with the words "Stay the fuck away!"
haphazardly painted in jet black, but I also saw the words "Shunji Iwai" on the staff list. But, unfortunately, he was not the director. He only created the original story. I can only hope that SHAFT somehow mangled the production so much to the point that it ended up like this, but even I don't think SHAFT has that much disrespect for source material, given their tenure. So maybe the script sucked to begin with.
For those not in the know, Shunji Iwai is a pretty fucking cool director, writer, editor and occasional musician who did a bunch of movies in the '90s, 2000s, and a few less in the 2010s, but they're still pretty fucking cool. He wrote and directed my favourite anime, Hana & Alice (2015) and my favourite live-action film, Hana & Alice (2004), the former of which resembles this project in a number of ways. But the difference is that Hana & Alice was a lot better, a lot more interesting, and had a whole lot more to say. Both of them. But I've gone three paragraphs complaining about how bad this movie is without going into any detail, so enough of this bullshit.
Fireworks is a love story. I think. I'm pretty sure. I promise I didn't fall asleep while I was watching it, and I was paying attention, honest. But for a love story, there's no build-up, and there's no pay-off. Fittingly enough, this whole movie is just a bunch of "what-ifs". What if we knew why these two guys like Nazuno so much? What if we knew why Nazuno likes any of them back? What if we knew what kind of person Nazuno was? What if we knew what kind of relationship this friendgroup of guys had? What if we knew anything about this small rural town aside from the fact that it's small and rural? What if we knew anything about Nazuno's relationship with her mother aside from the scarce one-liners we get when Norimichi pushes her for information? What if we had any clue as to whether the whole thing was a dream sequence or meant to be taken literally? What if this movie actually had an ending?
You get the picture. Or maybe you don't. I sure as hell didn't. I came out of this movie with a whole laundry list of questions and a scrap of toilet paper with some haphazard answers scrawled across it. Any answers, information, backstory, character development or whatever we do get is flimsy, predictable, or established in the first 30 minutes! We spend most of the damn movie waiting for Norimichi to catch up with us because we heard this one thing this one teacher said one time! I honestly don't get what the point of revealing that was if they try to make it out like a mystery the entire time, but we already know the answer.
And that's another thing: the plotting in Fireworks is poor. I kept waiting for this moment of clarity when I could finally understand who Nazuno really was. An hour and a half later, and I'm drawing blanks. The only things we get to hear about Nazuno is that she's a victim of circumstance, and she's dreaming for something better, and oh yeah, she kinda likes this boy for some reason but we're never told why. That's not a spoiler, by the way; in the first 20 minutes, it's made pretty clear Nazuno likes the attention. But by the end of it, I still couldn't tell if she was just manipulating whoever was convenient for her own purposes or honestly had those feelings. And it's not my fault I don't know.
Ambiguity should only ever be the fault of the viewer for not paying enough attention to be able to firmly pick a side. The reason that Nazuno is such an enigma despite having what must be half the screen time of shots of her looking cool and beautiful is because she hardly ever talks! And when she does talk, it's so inane you can't get a picture of where she really stands on anything aside from liking Norimichi and not liking her family. She has such a cool character design, but it's wasted on a shallow character.
Right, right, back to the plotting. It starts off okay, and they establish that tonight there's a fireworks thing going on at Moshimo (ha-ha) Shrine, and Nazuno has this cool crystal-looking thing that can apparently do some convenient supernatural bullshit. Sure, okay, setup good. And then it's just a bunch of vignettes that don't really say or reveal anything we don't already know. The dialogue's okay, I guess, but the interactions between Norimichi and Nazuno are boring as hell. There's also some engineered drama in this film that never gets properly resolved or even addressed.
Norimichi literally closes his eyes and covers his ears when the drama seems like it's going to unfold. He doesn't even want any part in it, man, just let me have my girl and ride off into the sunset! The drama's okay and believable, but it's only real purpose is force two unlikely characters together so the plot can get moving. Which it doesn't. It gets put on a train for half an hour and we end up right back where we started, and also now fireworks are round apparently.
That's exactly what watching Fireworks is like. It's like reading a run-on sentence that you're not quite sure where it began, where it's going, and if it's actually going to end or whether it'll just stop in the middle. A lot of things just sorta happen in this movie because they're expected, I guess? There's no plot cohesion, there's no resolution, there's no real link from the previous scene to the next, especially since it keeps retconning itself whenever things get inconvenient.
I suppose I have to talk about the characters now. There's only really two good characters in this movie, and one of them, unfortunately, is Norimichi. This is purely because he gets the most screentime of all the characters (being the protagonist and all), so we get to see a lot of what makes him tick. Clearly, Shunji Iwai's character writing is still on the ball when it has time to breathe. He's kind of an idiot, but he's also kind of a pussy, too. His character traits are well-defined, we know what he wants (da girl) and we know what he'll do to get her (punch anybody in his way into the ground). His emotions are expressed really well and you know where he's coming from when there's a tense moment. He's a good protagonist, if a little bland and boring.
Next, there's Yusuke, who is another de-facto main character, purely because the film seems to want to treat him like this but kinda ditches him halfway through. He also wants da girl, but since he's loyal to his friends unlike douchebag Norimichi, he's totally willing to be a dick to her if it'll get her off his back. And he's also perfectly willing to be a dick to Norimichi for not being a dick to her. Oh, and he's the only other character we ever get much of an inkling into his backstory of as to why he is the way he is. He has a pretty enjoyable personality when he's not being a dick, some of the best lines, and also the most interesting arc, if you can call it that, because the film provides the viewer enough information to piece something together. He's also got a pretty cool character design.
I already spoke about Nazuna, and there's nothing to really say there anyway, so let's talk about the rest of this dude's friend group. We've got nerdy dude who wants to prove he's right all the time, sporty dude that wants to prove he's cool all the time, and shotacon who likes his teacher maybe a bit too much. They give some hints that there's a little more to their characters, and their dialogue is the best in the movie, but that's about all there is to them. Seriously. We don't find out much else about them, but I honestly have to say they have the best scenes in the movie.
If there's anything I would have to say was great about this movie, it would have to be the character designs. They're all so unique and their body language is animated well. It also looks very pretty otherwise, and the CGI is blatant as hell but not too awful. The music - especially the ED - is top-notch. It is, as I said, easily the best part of Fireworks. It starts off with this track really reminiscent of Hana & Alice, which fooled me into thinking this was going to be another awesome movie by Shunji Iwai, but the atmospheric music aside from this is also pretty good, if not nearly as memorable. Should have gotten Hekuto Pascal to do the soundtrack again. Oh well; Yagate Kimi ni Naru is serving them well.
That's about all there is to say about Fireworks. But maybe I spoke too soon. Maybe Fireworks is actually just this weird fever dream where everything is hazy and vague, and you just wake up in the middle of it without really remember anything that went on in it. Not good, but not horrible, I guess. Shockingly boring with some decent lines here and there, and a completely unsatisfying ending with some failed symbolism/metaphors and largely incoherent plotline.
There are a lot better and a lot worse things to watch than this. This is one of the most mediocre things I've ever seen; please don't watch it ever. Watch Mars of Destruction or Hana & Alice instead. It'll make you feel much more in minutes than you would after watching the entirety of Fireworks. It doesn't move you, it doesn't fill you with anything other than cheap nostalgia and plastic love.