Movie Review: Uchiage Hanabi (打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか?)

I kinda knew this year won't end without another animated movie, haha!

While I've had the liberty to watch several films this year, I'm still a bit more ecstatic watching animated films, especially if it's adapted from a manga. Though I haven't read the manga of Uchiage Hanabi, I've been waiting for the movie days before it was released in our country. My review is actually a little bit late because this was released in Japan way back August. 

I tried (so hard!) not to read reviews before I watched the movie so I would have my own opinion about it once I actually see it. 

So, the story is basically about young love - a slice of life kind of anime. The characters are typical school girls and boys experiencing their first taste of love as they balance friendship on the side. The story itself is not that deep but there's still something in it that got me hooked. 

The female protagonist, Nazuna Oikawa, went to school one day with a letter from her mother to her homeroom teacher. For me, the conflict started with this letter. Due to some family issues and though it was against her will, she's forced to leave her town and her school. Though she does not have much friends to say goodbye to, she felt like she needed to do something - like there was some sort of unfinished business in this town. 

There are two boys from her class who are actually showing interest in her, Norimichi Shimada (the male protagonist) and his pal Yusuke Azumi (the rival). 

Norimichi Shimada

Bummed about the fact that she has to leave the town soon, Nazuna tried to enjoy her remaining days at her town and at her school. She was spotted by Norimichi and Yusuke hanging by the pool on the same day they have their pool (cleaning) duties. Those two boys, along with their other friends, enjoy betting on basically everything they do. So, this day was not an exception. All of a sudden, they were up against each other on a 50-meter freestyle race. Nazuna saw them right before they started the race and counted herself in saying that if she gets back to the finish line first, she can ask anything she wants from whoever is going to be second to her. 

As she had predicted, she got out of the water first. Though a part of her was hoping Norimichi would show up next, it was Yusuke who came in second. So, she asked him to go to the fireworks festival with her that night.

Now, even in real-life love triangle, there's always someone who is only there for the chase and there's one who is actually sincere about his feelings. It's a bit hard to tell who's who until you go through some tough sh*ts and get emotionally wrecked. It has to be that way. Apparently, that's the only way to make life 'interesting'. 

Back to the story, haha!

Yusuke Azumi
Turns out, Yusuke has no plans of taking Nazuna to the fireworks festival. He chose to meet up with their friends instead without even giving a word of rejection nor cancellation to Nazuna. I guess the word we are looking for here is - a jerk! Norimichi felt really bad that Nazuna got stood up by none other than his friend. He also learned that Nazuna was actually trying to run away from home. 

However, her mother caught her just in time. Her mother came after her and had to drag her back to their house. Norimichi was right there when it all happened. Moments after, Yusuke and their other friends showed up barely witnessing Nazuna's mother dragging her back home. 

The sight of Yusuke ticked Norimichi up, so, he started throwing punches at him. Nazuna's voice pleading for help was still ringing in his ears. It had him thinking that IF ONLY he won the swimming race that morning, he would have had the right to take Nazuna to the fireworks festival instead of Yusuke. She wouldn't have felt bad for being stood up and he probably wouldn't have to see her being miserable out in the streets.  

While Norimichi was going beast mode on Yusuke, he caught something from the ground that actually belongs to Nazuna - something she found at the beach that morning when she was about to deliver her mother's letter to her homeroom teacher. Norimichi threw it out of anger while thinking about his WHAT IFS. And that's where the magic begins.

He was taken back in time, back to the morning when he was on a race against Yusuke. 

I ain't gonna tell the details about what happened next. You gotta see it for yourself. But I have to warn you, you might get a little confused with the story and might blurt out "WTF is actually happening?!" Haha! 

I'll give this movie a rating of 7 out of 10. 

Why? The plot was actually a bit shaky for me. There were parts that were unnecessary and a bit dragging. I tried to understand the romantic part of the movie - the young 'love suicide' kind of theme. The family issues were realistic as well as the bond between friends. But there were parts that were really a bit underwhelming. I'm impressed with the CGI of course, though some viewers were not okay with the 2D to 3D switch throughout the movie. Being a music geek, the soundtrack was the best part for me. If you watch the trailer, you would be excited and curious to see the movie. 

The ending was a bit intriguing though. It got me thinking WTF happened to the protagonists. Haha! 

But, as a writer, I would also have to commend the script writer of this movie for some heart-tugging lines. 

"When are we going to see each other again?"


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