I feel bad for comparing Fireworks to Your Name, producer Genki Kawamura’s previous animated feature, but it’s almost impossible to avoid—and not just because it’s another love story with a supernatural twist (substituting time travel and parallel universes for its predecessor’s body-swapping). I understand why the distributors were so quick to boast in the marketing campaign, considering the earlier film’s staggering critical acclaim and box office success (both in its native Japan and abroad), but they had to know that this more recent effort would suffer without Makoto Shinkai in the director’s chair. Indeed, the development of the central romance sorely lacks Shinkai’s trademark sensitivity, leaving behind only the vulgar humor that occasionally made Your Name… uncomfortable to watch.
Fireworks isn’t terrible by any measure: the animation is absolutely gorgeous (aside from some lackluster CGI), and the premise and themes remain compelling despite the uneven execution. But because it’s being advertised as the next Your Name, it’s basically doomed to fall short of expectations; I know I was hoping for something a little more… extraordinary.
[Originally written July 5, 2018.]