Patema Inverted


Reviewed by: Donald Munro

Patema Inverted
"The film is brilliantly animated with some stunning surreal perspectives."

Patema Inverted is an animated adventure by Yasuhiro Yoshiura. The story is boy meets girl but there is something pulling them apart: gravity.

The orphaned daughter of the Chief, Patema (Yukiyo Fujii) explores the recesses of her underground city. Torch in hand she wanders the strata of buried industrial decay and forbidden zones. On one sortie she crosses paths with a bat person, a mysterious cloaked figure with a metal mask and glowing red eyes who walks on the ceiling. While escaping from the dangerous encounter she falls into a huge shaft and plummets into darkness.

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Aiga is a land of technological wonder with moving pavements and towering buildings. Its great city sits amongst grassy fields and beneath an expansive blue sky. Aiga however is no paradise. It has a distinct whiff of the totalitarian about it with its regimented society and storm trooper like security police. In a grassy meadow Age (Nobuhiko Okamoto) sits daydreaming beside a very large fenced off hole. It is here that he encounters Patema. A girl about his age clinging to the fence desperately trying not to fall. Patema is upside down trying not to fall into the sky. She is inverted. She is also going to fall foul of the state that thinks sinners fall into the sky.

Having characters with different opinions on what is up and down allows the filmmakers to use some interesting perspectives and to present things from very odd angles. There are striking shots where a beautifully drawn panorama is spun by 180 degrees. They are able to use topological changes to reflect how a character relates to another or to some aspect of the world. Up and down provide ample opportunity for gentle physical comedy and bring new meaning to teenage awkwardness.

Patema Inverted is a really enjoyable film. The film is brilliantly animated with some stunning surreal perspectives. With a fine blend of comedy, ripping yarn and underplayed teen romance it is really quite appealing. It certainly has its darker moments as it looks at the suppression of ideas and the political use of prejudice and the irrational fear of the other.

I would advise that you watch the Japanese version of the film. In places the English dub interferes with the film's soundscape. It also gives the film a different complexion. For instance Izamura (Takaya Hashi), the ruler of Aiga, is slimy and obsequious instead of authoritarian and otherworldly.

Reviewed on: 24 Nov 2014
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A subterranean princess' world is literally turned upside down.
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Director: Yasuhiro Yoshiura

Starring: Yukiyo Fujii, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Shintaro Ohata, Shinya Fukumatsu, Masayuki Kato, Takaya Hash

Year: 2014

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Japan


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