On the TOP 100 List of DVDs.

The English title is FIREWORKS, SHOULD WE SEE IT FROM THE SIDE OR FROM THE BOTTOM.  Written and directed by Shunji Iwai.  Made for tv over nine years ago, it's only fifty minutes long but it has more depth and emotions than most films twice its length.

Basically it's about moments of change.  It reminds me of LOLA RENNT in that way but without the forced hipness.  Twenty minutes into the film very subtly (casual viewers won't even notice) the story makes a 180-degree turn and switches one of the two main characters for another one by changing the outcome of a swimming race between two boys.

Uchiage hanabi, shita kara Miruka? Yoko kara Miruka?

directed by  

Review of the film and DVD by Jeroen  

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The film tells two stories.  One of a group of school boys on their way to a fireworks show.  Think STAND BY ME minus Hollywood kitsch. The other story is about one of these boys joining a female classmate who is running away from home because her parents are getting a divorce.  Both stories celebrate youth in a way Iíve rarely seen on film.  The style of the film is very casual with mostly handheld camerawork and quick cutting, so you really have to pay attention to find the beautiful momentsÖ for example this one.  To explain fireworks the teacher performs a chemical experiment.  Curtains closed so the classroom is dark, the children gathered around her desk.  Then for a very short moment with their faces lit by the colorful lights of the experiment a boy and girl look at each other timidly.  End of scene. Most people would say what's the big deal but it touched me immensely.

It's a drama for the most part, but there are some very funny scenes like when the boys scream the names of their favorite girls into the dark night sky, and one of them yells 'sailor moon'.  The others tell him 'but that's a manga character', and he replies 'what's the difference'.  It made me laugh.

The ending is perfect.  Both stories have their own separate ending and then there's another ending where both stories come together.  I still haven't seen Iwai's latest film, ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU, but from what Iíve read about it I have a feeling it picks up where this film leaves us.

FILM and DVD Details 

Here we go.  Region-free, ntsc, oar 1.33:1, in Japanese with optional English subtitles.  Originally shot on video as a TV production the film was later transferred to film for theatrical presentation.  The DVD is 24fps film-sourced which means it was transferred from the newer film elements.  Like all Norman's nose DVD's picture is crystal clear and extremely sharp and detailed.  There are the typical analog video artifacts of course, but they aren't the fault of the transfer.  Absolutely no edge enhancement, perfect black level and shadow detail which is very good but could be better in just two or three scenes.  Colors are extremely vivid.  There's a glorious pcm stereo track (no Dolby 2.0 thank god) which sounds perfect start to finish.  The beautiful music by Remedios fills your room!  Who needs surround sound anyway?

I also love how the dvd cover art is in landscape format instead of the usual portrait style.

Not many extras, but there's another disc released by Norman's nose which is loaded with extras for this film. 
Here's a small review: 

Shonen Tachi Wa Hanabi O Yoko Kara Mitakatta 

First this doesn't contain english subtitles, but don't let that stop you from buying it it's still a must-own if you liked the original film.  The biggest part of the disc is the two main characters four years after the film was made going back on a trip visiting all the locations of the film.  Then later, they re-enact scenes from the screenplay.  Holding their scripts, just walking through the library and gym of the school and later going outside, this is one of the finest and most interesting extras i've ever seen.  There's also some interviews, and a very interesting documentary that shows a scene that was shot in one take with four different hand-held camera's, showing in one picture the four viewpoints at once.

The dvd is region-free, 4:3, video-sourced.  Picture quality could be better (it's rather dark), no big deal.

Credited cast overview

Yuta Yamazaki .... Norimichi Shimada 
Megumi Okina .... Nazuna Oikawa 
Takayuki Sorita .... Yusuke Azumi 
Randy Havens .... Kazuhiro 
Kenji Kohashi .... Jyun'ichi 
Kento Sakuragi .... Minoru 
Kuniko Asagi .... Haruko Miura 

Also Known As: 
Fireworks, Should We See It From the Side or the Bottom? (1993) (TV) (International: English title) 
Country: Japan 
Language: Japanese 

DVD Details 



  • Running Time: 50 mins.
  • Color
  • Layers: single-sided/single-layered
  • Aspect Ratio(s): 4:3 Standard
  • Regional Encoding: 2
  • Subtitles: English
  • NTSC Format
  • Audio Track :
      Japanese /Linear PCM /Stereo

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