Bringing both a beautiful animation style and a unique look at young love, Fireworks is a really interesting film with time travel mechanics and fun characters that are worth remembering. It doesn’t nail everything that it tries to accomplish and definitely falls into some typical anime tropes, but is still enjoyable nonetheless.
On the day of a popular fireworks festival, Norimichi (Ryan Shanahan) and Yusuke (Aaron Dalia Villa) are in a debate with a group of friends if fireworks are round or flat from the side. The two are also stuck in a love-triangle with another classmate, Nazuna (Brooklyn Nelson), and end up in a swimming competition to spend time with her later during the fireworks.
Norimichi then finds himself stuck in a crazy situation that causes him to travel in time with a small transparent ball in the ocean Nazuna finds on her way to school. Now Norimichi must anticipate every effect the time-travelling ball has and escape dire situations to end up with Nazuna.
Norimichi and Nazuna’s relationship is quite interesting and feels like a true star-crossed lovers tale through young eyes. Sure their youth has them make choices that don’t make the most logical sense, but their pursuit of love and happiness is enjoyable to watch and fun to root for.
The relationship between Norimichi and Yusuke is actually interesting as well, but Yusuke’s action can add some confusion and over-complication to the story. All of their relationships constantly reminded me of other star-crossed stories like Romeo and Juliet and even Kingdom Hearts, in some aspects, and it made me feel connected and invested into the characters.
I also happened to see the English dub of the film as well and found the voice acting to be great in helping bring the characters to life. The voice-overs never felt forced and the dialogue felt very natural.
The time-travel element was also expertly used in the film as it is just used for particular moments rather than over-doing it to make it feel like a gag. Think films like Groundhog Day or Happy Death Day, but each time jump only goes back to key moments rather than restarting the entire film to get to on life-changing moment. This story-telling mechanic also gives Norimichi some solid character growth as he constantly understands his actions better and audiences get to see how he is falling for Nazuna.
Fireworks brings viewers some amazing animation, thanks to SHAFT studio’s great talent, but it can feel a tad in consistent from time to time. SHAFT constantly loved to play with different art styles and colors and for the most part it works. When I noticed an animation style suddenly changed, I found myself even more focused on that moment. However, this doesn’t always work as I also found myself being drawn to certain scenes because it was too different and even almost distracting.
Fireworks also suffers from typical anime tropes and some cringe-worthy humor that doesn’t work. With a lot of the male students, they were constantly focused on the female character’s breasts and it was incredibly distracting and uncomfortable. It even goes as far as both some female character being uncomfortable and male character even calling out different sizes. This is something that felt unnecessary and is over-done in the art form, most likely to make American audiences more interested but, in fact, actually does the opposite effect.
There are also some moments that delve a little too deep into its fantasy moments and become a tad too abstract in its dreamlike sequences and musical moments. The film does, however, not just focus on fantasy and borrows from many different genres. It has a little bit of something for everyone and many will definitely come away having moments that strongly resonated with them.
While definitely a far from perfect work of anime, Fireworks definitely has something going for it as its beautiful animation and touching characters make it a worthwhile movie. Even now, I still find myself wanting to watch it again in theaters and that’s pretty rare for me.