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Anime / Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?
aka: Fireworks

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Fireworks, full title Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? (JP:打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか? Uchiage Hanabi, Shita Kara Miru ka? Yoko Kara Miru ka?) is a 2017 Japanese romantic drama anime film from Studio Shaft based on the 1993 Japanese live action film by Shunji Iwai of the same name. It is directed by Nobuyuki Takeuchi, produced by Genki Kawamura, with a screenplay written by Hitoshi Ohne and featuring music by Satoru Kosaki.

In the Japanese seaside town of Moshimo, junior high schooler Norimichi Shimada (Masaki Suda) goes for summer school with his friends, among them Yuusuke Azumi (Mamoru Miyano). They seek to determine whether fireworks are flat or round when seen from the side by climbing the local lighthouse. Also in their class is the mysterious beauty Nazuna Oikawa (Suzu Hirose). While doing pool-cleaning duty, the two boys are challenged by Nazuna to a race with what is apparently a date at stake. Distracted, Norimichi injures his leg and loses to Yuusuke, but events conspire Nazuna to reveal that she had wanted him to win that they might elope and flee Nazuna's widowed mother, whose remarriage will come with Nazuna having to move away. When things go wrong, a strange bauble gives Norimichi the chance to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but at what cost?

Fireworks contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Inevitable, as the original live action film was only 49 minutes long (which was made as a TV broadcast instead of a feature) while the anime adds more than 40 minutes of screen time. Most notable is the entire time travel premise, as that was only explored as a What If? sequence in which what Norimichi would do if he did not injure his foot and win the swimming race in the live action TV film. In addition to this, the entire romance aspect as well.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The bauble is destroyed by the drunkard firework craftsman firing it, and Norimichi grabs one of the shards showing glimpses of possible futures. He dives into the sea to be with Nazuna and they kiss and converse a bit more before she swims away. The next day, Nazuna's seat in class is empty and Norimichi is absent. Did they successfully elope? Did they drown in the sea? Was everything that happened in between Nazuna getting dragged off by her mother and the next day scene merely Norimichi's fantasy like in the original short? Is there some other explanation for the couple's absence? We never find out.
  • Arc Symbol: The Fresnel lenses of the lighthouse lamp. The glass bauble is covered with miniaturized versions of the lenses, and the last world that that Norimichi and Nazuna find themselves in is surrounded by giant versions of them, with various objects looking like they're distorted by the lenses.
  • Barefoot Suicide: Nazuna stages one when she takes off her dress and sandals and throws them away into the water. It's shameless fanservice, and a bit foolish considering how those nice clothes are going to waste. It also causes Norimichi to rush over in great concern, but then Nazuna surfaces just fine.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Norimichi and Nazuna finally kiss near the end, and an underwater one at that.
  • Brick Joke: Ms Miura discusses with her colleague who is secretly her boyfriend about going public with their relationship. Later on, the other characters run into the two of them together.
  • Call-Back: Early on, Yuusuke dismisses the boys' quest as foolish, saying that there's no world in which fireworks are flat when viewed from the side. When Norimichi later sees the fireworks creating a Planar Shockwave, he realises he needs to go back in time again.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The drunkard firework craftsman appears briefly early in the film. Near the end, he mistakes the bauble for a firework shell, loads and fires it, causing it to break.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: One of the main conflicts of the story is whether Yuusuke and Norimichi should honour their appointment with the boys or with Nazuna.
  • Creator Cameo: As a Freeze-Frame Bonus; a keyboard can be seen with "Shaft" where the Shift key is.
  • Depth of Field: This technique is employed to blur Nazuna's bra the one time it's visible in order to avoid a too-lecherous Male Gaze.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: A logically-thinking viewer would anticipate Nazuna's mother and the fiance chasing the train. Not so explicable is Yuusuke and the rest of Norimichi's friends just happening to be at a railway crossing the train passes.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The song Nazuna sings on the train abruptly transforms into a sequence where she is a princess and Norimichi her prince riding in a carriage through some bizarre landscape.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: One interpretation of the Ambiguous Ending. Despite many challenges, Nazuna and Norimichi successfully elope.
  • Elopement: Nazuna's mother eloped with her father when she became pregnant with their daughter, leaving her first husband. Nazuna herself does this with Norimichi.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Yuusuke's perception that Norimichi is stealing a move on Nazuna drives a wedge between the friends.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: While twirling together on top of the lighthouse, Nazuna nearly falls over the railing, but is caught by Norimichi. Moments later, Yuusuke pushes them both off.
  • Friendless Background: Nazuna's mother and the new fiance discuss how Nazuna won't be missed because she has few friends and definitely no boyfriend.
  • Generation Xerox: Nazuna notes how her mother ran out on her first husband with Nazuna's father, and now she too is running away with Norimichi.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • The filament inside the bauble is shaped like the English word "If".
    • After revealing her mother's sordid history and how it's repeating with herself, Nazuna clearly uses "bitch" to describe herself. (This has more of a connotation of "slut" in Japanese.)
  • Hope Spot: Happens twice. After the first time travel, Norimichi and Nazuna make it to Moshimo Station... but as the train is arriving, Nazuna's mother and the new fiance suddenly show up and drag her off. The next attempt, they make it onto the train, but the mother and their friends see and chase them down before they can get away.
  • Insistent Terminology: When Norimichi asks if they're runaways, Nazuna insists he use "eloping" instead because "runaway" sounds childish.
  • Magic Realism: There are a few fantastic elements, most prominently the bauble that enables the time travel, but the film is otherwise realistic.
  • Male Gaze: Despite going to pains to minimise showing Nazuna's underwear, even using Depth of Field to blur out the one time her bra is visible, there are still a few gratuitous shots of her breasts and butt.
  • Meaningful Name: The town's name, Moshimo, can be translated as "if (I could/had)".
  • Office Golf: Yuusuke's father practices his putting during Norimichi's consultation, leaving it to the nurse to handle the dressing of the wound.
  • Planar Shockwave: After the first time travel, the fireworks create this, which Norimichi interprets as a sign that he needs to time travel again.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Norimichi's inability to tell Yuusuke exactly why he's so unhappy with the latter plays a part in their falling out.
  • Real-Place Background: Moshimo itself is fictional, but parts of it are modelled after Asahi and Choshi in Chiba Prefecture, Kamisu in Ibaraki Prefecture, Mishima Taisha and the defunct Utatsu Station in Miyagi Prefecture.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: Use of the bauble causes reality to be altered. First, it's just the fireworks becoming a Planar Shockwave. The second time, the fireworks are shaped like flowers. The third time, the train Norimichi and Nazuna are on diverts into rails on the sea, and when it returns to Moshimo Station the surroundings have an odd glassy look, as if the whole city was enclosed within the lighthouse lamp.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The exact origins and workings of the bauble are left as a mystery. There is all of one hint - when Nazuna talks about her missing father while in the train, the film suddenly shows a drowned man in the sea holding onto an identical bauble - but what that really means is left up to interpretation.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: By throwing the bauble, Norimichi can travel into the past and change how things play out.
  • Setting Update: The original TV film was set in a small seaside village town called Iioka in the early nineties.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The train traveling over a narrow raised track surrounded by water on both sides is based on a similar scene in Spirited Away, except in that movie the tracks were completely submerged.
    • Nazuna surfaces from the water and throws her hair back, much like Ariel does in The Little Mermaid (1989).
  • Slow-Motion Pass-By: We get a slo-mo shot when the train passes the boys at a railway crossing.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: It quickly becomes apparent that Nazuna doesn't really have a plan for how she was intending to run away, and it goes about as poorly as you'd expect.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Some of the boys have a crush on Ms. Miura.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Downplayed. Nazuna is slightly taller than Norimichi, which isn't unusual for kids in their early teens.
  • Toilet Humor: When Yusuke sees Nazuna at the school pool, he suddenly says he needs to poop, and the topic comes up a few more times.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Norimichi discovers what comes of Yuusuke standing Nazuna up, he gives his friend a knuckle sandwich for it.
  • Younger Than They Look: After putting on some makeup, Nazuna invokes this by asking Norimichi if he thinks she can successfully pass for 16 and therefore find employment.

Alternative Title(s): Fireworks