Studio Shaft’s Fireworks is the latest anime film coming to UK cinemas (15 November), thanks to All the Anime. Based on a 1990’s live-action TV special Fireworks: Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? from Shunji Iwai that spawned a whole series of ‘what if’ dramas in Japan, it certainly has a lot to live up to.
Nazuna’s mother is remarrying and soon to be leaving town, taking her daughter with her. When Nazuna finds a beautiful marble-like object in the ocean, she impulsively joins in a swimming race with Norimichi and Yuusuke (who just so happen to be competing for her affections). Whoever wins the race, Nazuna will run away with and elope.
Meanwhile, the boys and their friends are arguing over whether fireworks are round or flat. They agree to go to the town’s fireworks display together, the night Nazuna plans to run away, to settle their bet.
Fireworks is a fairly straightforward story that is given more depth as the narrative splits, presenting us with various ‘what if’ stories depending on who Nazuna asks out and what the boys themselves choose to do. It’s funny, lighthearted and beautifully animated, and will please fans of films with a similar time-travel theme, such as Your Name and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Considering how Studio Shaft (responsible for the Monogatari series and much more) is responsible for the animation, it’s no surprise that the animation was my favourite thing about Fireworks. I also apparently have a soft spot for teenage time-travel romance. The story itself, while simple in its premise, also had me intrigued from start to finish.
I had mixed feelings about the main cast. I personally didn’t warm to Nazuna and found her sulky and immature in her actions. Norimichi and Yuusuke were more likeable, although I felt more could be done to flesh out Yuusuke, who doesn’t get as much screen time as his friend.
Overall, I did enjoy Fireworks and highly recommend catching it this week. With the weather getting colder, Fireworks will warm your heart. You can find your nearest screening here.