This summer, Most Highly Anticipated Japanese Movie – Latest Reviews on Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka?

なずなはいかにしてアイドルになっていくのか。 ——『打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか?』超速レビュー
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This summer, Most Highly Anticipated Japanese Movie – Latest Reviews on Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka?

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If only I had ~ then… The anticipated summer blockbuster Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka? (Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?) heavily deals with the theme of “if”, or “moshi mo” in Japanese. Its story is about Norimichi Shimada (voiced by Masaki Suda) and Yuusuke Azumi (Mamoru Miyano) who are at school during summer vacation, and begins with the two of them leaving to clean the school pool. Standing before them, as they both hold cleaning supplies, is their classmate Nazuna Oikawa (Suzu Hirose), who they both have a crush on. Nazuna always carries around a mysterious ball (let’s call it an “if ball”), which she found by the sea.

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Nazuna decides to participate in Norimichi and Yuusuke’s 25m swimming relay. She makes a promise with Yuusuke, who finishes second, to go see the fireworks together. However, on the day of the event, Yuusuke and Norimichi, along with their classmates, head to the lighthouse to see if fireworks will look round or flat when viewed from the side.

As Nazuna gets ready for the event, she thinks about leaving everything behind and running away from home. Because of her mother is getting remarried, she’s being forced to transfer schools. However, when Nazuna gets stood up by Yuusuke, she is convinced by her parents to leave town. Norimichi, considering his feelings for Nazuna, thinks, “If only I had beat Yuusuke then…” Then, with all his might, he throws the “if ball” that Nazuna had been carrying around. After, he realizes time has been distorted, and he’s back at the pool again like before.

As the movie goes on, every time Nazuna’s parents try to separate her from Norimichi, he throws the “if ball” to turn back time and warps back to scenes where he thinks, “If only I had done this then, I could have had just a little more time with Nazuna.” Inside this time loop, the world’s space-time becomes gradually distorted. Worlds that could have been repeat over and over again. So what exactly is the “if ball”’s true form, and do Norimichi and Nazuna they find a world where just the two of them can be together?


© 2017「打ち上げ花火、下から見るか?横から見るか?」製作委員会

I’ll leave you with this synopsis, though I’ll say that I personally enjoyed it as the ultimate “idol” film. Most striking is the sexy portrayal of Suzu Hirose’s Oikawa. It’s hard to imagine she’s only a first-year junior high school student. It’s almost as if she was played by an expressive, seductive actress like Scarlett Johannson from the movie Lucy. This is apparent in the way she lays on her side by the poolside, and scenes where she’s changing in the bathroom and heading toward the festival in her yukata. And then finally, the way the water drops splash as her youthful, glowing silhouette dives into the ocean waters. It completely strikes me as being like a gravure image. Could this be a film where Nazuna, a girl, transforms into an “idol” inside this time loop? The longer time passes in the loop, the more beautiful, more “idol-like” she becomes in it.

There’s a scene that proves and symbolizes this. During the third loop, trying to escape from her parents’ reach, she suggests to Norimichi that the two of them should run off to Tokyo and elope. Norimichi is puzzled, and asks her how they’re going to make a living there. Nazuna replies, “Tokyo has a ton of night entertainment, cabarets, girl bars, and the like, right? I could always find work as an idol, too.” (Norimichi finds this response strangely beautiful as well.) Then, on the train, she sings Seiko Matsuda’s “Ruriiro no Chikyuu”. Naturally, it’s a traditional idol song. Seeing her sing it so casually is somehow beautiful. There, the Nazuna the girl, lives in another world distorted in space-time, where she is an idol. It leaves quite the impression.

The movie is an animated remake of a legendary short film released 1993, by modern-day master director Shunji Iwai. The original script earned a deal of praise for describing the period where one becomes popular to the opposite sex. Moreover, the general director is none other than Akiyuki Shinbo, who led the animation production company Shaft, responsible for the legendary anime Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica, as the producer is Genki Kawamura, who worked on 2016 acclaimed hit Your Name. So you can be sure that Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka? is sure to sweep Japan 2017 summer.

Finally, “Uchiage Hanabi”, the ending theme sung by prominent artist DAOKO and Kenshi Yonezu, unintentionally turns over a new page in the book of j-pop, and is something that will not soon be forgotten.

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Writer, Book Reviewer. Having the degree of MA. (Japanese Literature) I love Japanese Girl's Popular Music, such as YUKI, Chara, Makoto Kawamoto, and Seiko Oomori.

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