Patema Inverted – Yasuhiro Yoshiura – 2013


Sakasama no Patema CoverOriginal title: Sakasama no Patema
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Year: 2013
Directors: Yasuhiro Yoshiura
Duration: 98 min.
Genre: Animation, Sci-Fi, Adventure

Patema Inverted

So what would happen when gravity works the other way around, but not for everyone? Patema Inverted explores this subject with great success. The base story of ‘cute girl gets kidnapped, boy must go to the rescue’ is bland and has been done better, but that is not why you should watch this film. It’s everything else, the setting, the ‘camera work’, the plot twists, changes in reality and the excellent way in which the director lets us feel what it is like to be inverted. So what does that mean anyway, to be inverted?

For that we need to go back in time, to when we, modern day humans, in our hubris decided to experiment with gravity. The reasons are never made clear, but it doesn’t matter really. What does matter is that something went terribly wrong. People, cars, trees, buildings and even entire cities became inverted, meaning they started floating towards the sky. Many people died in the process and the world as we know it was ruined. So as one of a few survivors, how do you survive inverted gravity? You go underground, so you can walk on the ceilings of tunnels without having to fear being sucked into the sky.

Patema Inverted

Now that that’s cleared up, Patema Inverted starts with a girl about 15 years old exploring what appear to be ruins of an old underground facility. She ends up at a large silo-like construction where she notices dust particles falling up towards the sky. Then the battery of her torch gives out and she has to return home. There we find out that this girl is called Patema, and that she is the daughter of the community leader and is regarded as sort of a princess. She wasn’t supposed to be out at exploring at all. We learn that what she was exploring is called the forbidden zone, and we learn of some guy called Lagos who went missing there some time ago.

Of course when you tell a kid they can’t do something, the next thing they do is sneak out and do it anyway. So back in the silo there’s a noise, and another noise, and another. Some weird character comes out of the shadows, but can’t seem to enter the silo. Patema runs anyway and falls down the silo. When she regains consciousness she begins finding her way out. But whoa, we’re not in Kansas anymore! In a surreal scene we see her climbing down a cliff, onto a fence… wait what? Onto a fence, to the top of the fence and then she looks down at the sky. There’s a boy on the other side of the fence, he’s standing upside down.. or is he? At this point the camera ‘inverts’ and switches to the boy’s perspective.

Patema Inverted

This switching of perspective is what happens a couple more times and is actually pretty awesome. You start off feeling the fear Patema must feel of falling to the sky, and at the same time you see how weird it must be to meet someone who seems to exist upside down. Another nice gimmick is that these two gravity pulls seem to cancel each other out. Patema and the boy, Age, are about the same size, with Age being just a little heavier. This means as long as he holds on to Patema, it is as if he is on the moon, being able to take giant leaps and not fall to his death.

And that is just scratching the surface as far as twists and turns are concerned. As mentioned, the basic plot of boy meets girl, one gets taken, the other must go to the rescue is boring. The way they play with the concept of gravity however, and how it is incorporated into the plot is simply amazing. Also, as far as anime goes, this isn’t one of those films where they just keep shouting each other’s names. The voices are mostly calm and nice to listen to. The music isn’t good or bad and the animation is quite good. In the end it is the gravity sub plots enabling the main story that is the reason why you should seek this one out.

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