Out Now On-Demand
If only I could return to that day.
Japanese animated romantic drama produced by Japanese animation studio Shaft, based on the 1993 live-action drama of the same name.
One summer day in a seaside town, students Norimichi and Yusuke meet their crush, Nazuna, at the pool where they then have a swimming race to impress her. Norimichi loses, but finds a mysterious ball in the water. Yusuke wins and is asked by Nazuna to go watch the fireworks together. When Nazuna reveals to Norimichi that she was going to elope with the winner to get away from her mother’s remarriage, Norimichi angrily throws the ball he found in the water. At once, he finds himself back at the moment of the race. With the day repeating over and over again, what answers will Nazuna and Norimuchi find?
- Hitoshi Ohne (based on the screenplay 'Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?' by Shunji Iwai)
Animated, Drama, Romance, World Cinema
Rating: PG Violence & coarse language
Japanese with English subtitles
Last year’s Your Name was a colossal hit that earned its success with some visually gorgeous spectacle, a cool “out there” sci-fi fantasy angle, and two lovebirds put in a unique method of falling in love. Fireworks shoots up for similar glory but aside from looking and sounding pretty, it’s a real drag of a film that can’t rev up its unoriginal concept or get its flip-flopping story to walk.
Norimichi is a young lad who hangs out with a group made pretty unlikeable from the get-go, placing bets where the loser must “sexually harass” their teacher – just for a laugh. If you find a reason to excuse that (poor subtitle translation job, maybe), there still isn’t much else to the kid.
His main drive is his crush Nazuna, a schoolgirl going through some mildly tough parental issues. Though there’s potential for romantic tension, it’s cut down pretty early on in favour of a male wish-fulfilment first date where the girl dolls up with hair flicks and shiny slo-mo shots while the boy gawks. He has little interest in her troubles or – frankly – her personality.
There’s a large “what if” aspect of the film that seems to comment on the choices we make and how that affects our future but these aren’t choices based on human errors or moral decisions; they’re banal moments like winning a swimming race or catching a train. Such moments end up just halting and rewinding the story rather than grow the characters.
At least the visuals are pretty with animation studio Shaft going absolutely nuts with the lighting effects – especially when the titular fireworks kick in. The music is also rousing, though it’s a shame there isn’t a rousing tale to complement it.
South China Morning Post
Herald Sun (Australia)
Sydney Morning Herald