I'm sorry to say but this movie was so un-enjoyable that I was compelled to write a review.
I watched the whole movie hoping for an amazing finish however it was very lackluster, incoherent and had less character development than a ShamWOW! infomercial.
I am someone who generally enjoys most movies however I left the movie feeling like it made my life worse.
It's only redeeming features are the OK sound track as well it's unconventional art style, similar to that of Noein: To Your Other Self.
I'd recommend watching the trailer as it should set alarm bells as it doesn't make any sense.
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 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 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" (shown in 1st gif below) use of odd camera angles.
Overall I'd give it an 8/10. 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.
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.
"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.
After thinking fairly hard for about five minutes, I decided that the best way to describe 'Fireworks' would be to state that the film itself is exactly like a firework shell; gorgeous upon it's explosion, though way too complex and bombarding on the inside for the average person to care about.
'Fireworks', or 'Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka?', is a fairly enjoyable eye-gasm that will leave you entertained for it's duration, though won't leave any long-lasting impact. As someone who has not read the original source material, I can't say whether or not the story itself had a reasonable execution
prior to the film, though the way the plot unfolded in this version was frazzled. The movie started out strong, with interesting camera work and, though a little inconsistent, striking visuals. The opening scene in and of itself is enough to inspire at least a dozen wallpapers for my desktop. However, as soon as the inciting incident occurred about 30mins in, the pacing and complexity of the story spiralled out of control. The concept, though interesting, was frayed at the edges. Important plot points were never fully explained, character backgrounds were shoe-horned in, and the reasoning behind the titular motif was absent. The story holds itself together just enough for one to follow it, but moves way too quickly, and focuses for too long on details that do nothing for the plot. It is mediocre.
The art is mostly gorgeous, as previously mentioned. There are some jarring CGI scenes that take the audience out a little, though the firework scenes alone are enough to justify giving the art a rating of 'very good'.
The sound was forgettable. It didn't stand out to me as amazing, or terrible. It was just...there.
The characters were also forgettable. Both had some motivation, though the motivations were not thoroughly explained. Their chemistry was little jarring, to say the least, and I feel like the movie would have benefited from limiting the amount of characters, and spending more time on the protagonists. The female lead reminded me a lot of Hitagi. Maybe it's a Shaft thing.
Overall, though I can't say I hated 'Fireworks', it didn't leave much of an impression on me. The visuals were stunning, and I can't help but feel a little disappointed that such a great looking film had such a bland story. The concept was so intriguing, yet the movie barely explored it. I wouldn't tell someone NOT to watch this film, but I also wouldn't recommend it as something amazing. Fair is the correct word for this.
I went into Fireworks expecting a good movie. However, i was a bit disappointed when I watched this. the movie is trying to aim high, but fails miserably. While this movie isn't really bad, it isn't good. I believe the problem relies on the characters. I feel nothing for them, there was nothing in this movie that really made me care about them. So when these characters start going through emotional scenes i am just not connecting with them. The story wasn't really 'clicking' with me either, but i think that's because of how bad the characters were.
TINY SPOILER AHEAD, SKIP PARAGRAPH IF YOU
While i really enjoy the concept of time travel, this show just doesn't pull it off. i find that after the first one it was already boring. just didnt work and was represented in a strange way
The sound was satisfactory. Just me being picky, but there was a lot of really high pitched sounds that was a bit irritating to the ear. apart from that, it was good but not memorable. the ending song (same one in the trailer) was good.
Overall, I think this movie's main flaw is it's characters. they just aren't well written so none of their actions or emotional scenes had any effect on how i was feeling. While it's not bad, i wouldn't recommend anyone to watch this. Just isn't worth the time. If i hadn't been in the cinemas i probably would've dropped it
“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.
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.
I think there's a couple misunderstandings about this film that have cropped up in the anime community. No, it's not a perfect film. Far from it actually. But i've seen some criticisms that i simply can't understand:
"the film was anti-climatic"
Everything ties up in the conclusion. They both understand that their relationship can't last and is destined for just this single night. Reliving those sequences of decisions would not change that and thus, accepting the result but appreciating the confidence that Norimichi in particular had to finally follow through. The film snapping back into reality after Norimichi's/Nazuno's fantasies transformed the world only served to emphasis that
this time link was severed. I don't think this a valid criticism when it was intended to happen.
"the characters are self-serving"
No shit. They're kids. The entire film is about the stupid indecisiveness of these barely adolescent individuals. It quite literally embodies the phrase "boys will be boys" (but this obviously applies to all genders in this case). They are self-serving because that's how many teens act. They don't see the consequences (e.g. the poor mother being hurt) and that's exactly how the film portrays their actions. Not with frustration but with silliness and foolish innocence. Hell, the characters even know that they are in the wrong, but the film doesn't acknowledge this because it would go against the core themes.
"it didn't need to involve time-travel"
This is one criticism i mostly agree with. The time traversal wasn't a necessity to get across the narrative. However, i'd counterpoint that with "why can't it feature time travel?". It made the film undoubtedly more compelling and allowed Norimichi's character to undergo the three/four pronged effect. The first time, he loses the race and regrets his lack of drive and stupor in the decisive moment (i.e. no commitment). The second/third times, he went through with his descision to pursue Nazuno, but failed to full commit at two different stages. The fourth and final time, he dives in head first. I believe the same set of events could be told, but i rather like this version. It's a matter of preference really.
Other than that, this film did suffer from poor animation (even if the bad CGI was not featured nearly as much as some were complaining about) and a lack of character development for the rest of the cast. I'm not defending those. I just wanted to point out that i really don't think it's some flawless masterpiece. Despite this, i thought it was incredibly sweet, capturing the youthful foolishness that is associated with romantic relationships.