Sharing the same producer and a similar visual style as 2016’s smash hit Your Name, Japanese animated romantic drama Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? initially captivates with its musings on second chances and the inevitability of fate. But weak plot development and a slightly boring second half may disappoint those looking for another mystical masterpiece.
Based on Shunji Iwai’s 1993 Japanese live-action drama of the same name, Fireworks starts with the young girl Nazuna Oikawa (voiceover by Suzu Hirose) inviting Norimichi Shimada (Masaki Suda) and his friend Yūsuke Azumi (Mamoru Miyano) to a swimming competition.
After losing because of an ankle injury, Norimichi gets a second chance to change the outcome with the help of a mysterious magical ball that rewinds time to before the moment of important decisions.
The use of this artefact drives the plot forward, and plays with the viewer’s wish to have control over their own destinies. Yet the film’s ultimate message may be that no matter how many chances we get to change our decisions, our fate may already be guided towards a predestined path.
Though the beautifully-drawn graphics are pleasant on the eyes, the melodic soundtrack fits the mood, and the voice acting is convincingly done, the plot is not as distinctively creative compared to Your Name whose story transcended time and space. While Fireworks hints that there can be infinite possibilities happening in alternative realities, it doesn’t use this idea to its full potential.
Additionally, even if some of Firework’s scenes will hook the audience and keep them intrigued as to their importance, the film in general lacks the well-thought-out complexity to stay interesting all the way to the end.
Despite the imperfections in the second half of the storyline, Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? remains a dreamy and bittersweet love story that goes against the logic of everyday life. It invites the audience to escape from their mundane lives and enter a world of imagination to explore the "ifs" of their own journeys.
Edited by Jamie Lam