Patema Inverted サカサマのパテマ (2013)

Patema Inverted                               Patema Inverted Film Poster

Japanese Title: サカサマ の パテマ

Romaji: Sakasama no Patema

Running Time: 99 mins.

Release Date: November 09th, 2013

Director: Yasuhiro Yoshiura

Writer: Yasuhiro Yoshiura (Screenplay/Original Creator)

Starring: Yukiyo Fujii (Patema), Nobuhiko Okamoto (Age), Shintarou Oohata (Porta), Shinya Fukumatsu (G), Masayuki Katou (Lagos),

Patema Inverted is a story of boy-meets-girl only the writer/director Yasuhiro Yoshiura makes the phrase “falling head over heels in love” literal by twisting gravity around for the central couple so that they must cling together lest they lose not only each other but their lives… If protagonists getting their gravity mixed up is not a new and novel concept, it is one that is explored with much life and energy here in a deceptively light film where superb animation and imagination creates a world where ever shifting perspectives on life give a slight story much substance.

The girl in the pairing is the titular Patema, a brave princess of an underground village where the inhabitants, descendants of a group of scientists caught up in an experiment gone wrong, live in the tunnels and confined spaces of a scientific facility built long ago.

Patema Inverted Patema Explores

Patema’s village, the costumes and props are designed to perfection. As Patema explores we see it is a place where the sun has been replaced with the harsh glare of halogen bulbs and the wind comes not from a blue sky but huge black cavernous gulfs that extend nto the earth. The villagers, young and old, wear protective Patema Inverted Patema's Villageclothing, spare uniforms from an earlier time, so they look like spacemen. They scavenge for food in old storage facilities that are located amidst the wreckage of the decaying structure, where there are pits, twisted rusting metal and wires hanging down like tendrils of vines. This is the inverse of the natural world. Despite their surroundings, these underground people still enjoy life. They group together in chaotic carousing crowds of fun and are constantly smiling, especially kids and Patema who skips in and out of tunnels with a grin on her face. She loves to explore and discover new places. Her fascination with exploration leads her to a danger zone, which her guardians have forbidden her from visiting because of rumours of humanoid bat creatures. Of course she defies their instructions and visits the danger zone. Her curiosity is cut short when one of the fabled humanoid bats attacks her. In an effort to escape she battles the creature but falls into what seems to be a bottomless pit…

The film cuts to a schoolboy named Age who lays in a huge field near a fence which cordons off a hole in the ground. It is late at night and he is gazing at the stars. He has a melancholy air about him, something more than typical teenage frustration, it is a deep-seated unhappiness about the world he lives in but all of that is put on hold when he sees Patema falling up from what he thought to be a perilous drop into the earth. She clutches onto vegetation and the fence Age was by to prevent herself falling into the sky. He, of course, is surprised, but soon grabs onto this upside-down girl before she can fall away into the sky.

Patema Inverted Patema and Age Work Together

Patema, with her inverted gravity, is terrified being out from underground with the vast sky above… I mean, beneath her. Wouldn’t you be? Next time you’re outside look up into the sky. Patema Inverted Patema and Age Together
Imagine you didn’t have gravity holding you down and you could plunge up into that abyss. Scary, right? The perspective switches between Patema and Age as the story proceeds so everything is a bit upside down throughout the film. It is exhilarating seeing the world from a new perspective but also scary. The film plays on their different gravities brilliantly as it allows the two to develop a tight relationship through their terror. With her different gravity she needs Age to keep her anchored to the ground and, as the film continues Age needs Patema to hold him down or pull him up in perilous situations and so the two cling to each other.

Age is overjoyed at meeting Patema but soon realises that she is in trouble. In his world, those with a different gravity are hunted by the authorities.

Patema Inverted Bad Guys

The details of Patema’s surroundings were perfectly captured with a lightness of touch but Age’s society is arguably where the most detail comes into the film and the real darkness begins.

Age’s world is run by a religious and repressive regime. It is an orderly Orwellian society where security forces clad in black uniforms police people through constant Patema Inverted Orderly Societymonitoring via security cameras. The citizens of this land shuffle to their designated locations and jobs with little sign of freedom. Even more insidious is the theocracy that has grown up after the scientific disaster that affected Patema’s people. The state moulds the minds of its people from a young age to fear the sky and despise those from Patema’s tribe who are cast as sinners who are said to be sucked into the sky as punishment for past crimes. The leadership spouts the sort of religious and racial hatred that stops people from thinking and makes them fear what they do not know. It’s cleverly done and the menace of the bad guys is felt even more because the head of state is a convincing zealot, his religious-inspired sophistry comes out as a powerful mix of megalomaniac motivation and fanaticism which oozes threat and it is he and his cronies which Patema and Age must escape.

Patema Inverted School

If protagonists getting their gravity mixed up is not a new and novel concept, it is one that is explored with much life and energy here in this film. It was so much fun to watch the ingenious ways which the characters tackled their situations. When the two hug they can float and, by using their differing gravitational pull and weight, they move around different locations, flying across fields and making huge leaps over chasms, scale buildings and explore. The different gravities of the character’s work for more than just bringing Patema and Age into tight clinches which is great for blossoming Patema Inverted Blossoming Romanceromance, because  the two kids use it to escape the authorities in thrilling chases which had me grinning and bouncing in my seat as they flew through the air and bounced off objects, the quickness and agility of the kids and their smart thinking joyfully captured by a camera which zooms after them. Through their explorations they reveal bits and pieces of their world and how their two societies have become split up and all the while it is breath taking and fun!

Patema Inverted Epic Escape

Throughout the film director Yasuhiro Yoshiura plays around with his protagonist’s gravity which always poses a danger to them. We often get POV shots as the film plays up a fear of huge heights and the way they can see things upside down. Even when we don’t see things from their perspective, Yoshiura makes us aware of their spatial and gravitational realities as he vigorously thrusts the camera into wide open spaces, bottomless pits, and places us firmly in the shoes of the characters by twisting the camera and our perspective around so much that we lose touch with what is really up and down. I have not seen many films which made me as aware of how animation can depict space in such a fun manner.

Patema Inverted Age in Patema's Village

There are plenty of heart-in-mouth moments, not least because we come to care about the different characters. It was a joy to watch and visually ambitious. Despite a deceptively light touch it has strong world building and some weighty themes about intolerance. I saw it nearly a year ago at a cinema and was stunned by the way the film played with perspective. I now own it on DVD/Blu-ray and re-watched and was pleasantly surprised to find that it still holds all of its emotional charm and the visual spectacle, including the disorientating changes in perspective that worked so well on the big screen. It is so enjoyable it has become an anime I recommend to others which is why I’m reviewing it so I can recommend it to you.


Patema Inverted Patema and Age Explore Beyond the Limits

19 thoughts on “Patema Inverted サカサマのパテマ (2013)

  1. The Otaku Judge

    I would have loved to have seen this on the big screen. Patema Inverted was one of my fave animes of last year.

    1. It’s one of the best anime films I have seen in a looooong time and I have been watching anime films since the ’90s when Wicked City and Ghost in the Shell were on late at night. I was pleased to see that the film lost none of its magic on a smaller screen.

    1. Thanks! I always appreciate the good feedback because I know I may have done the film some justice. I know the director Yasuhiro Yoshiura fom Eve no Jikan, which I adore, and so with Patema Inverted I feel even more confident that we have a director of anime who can bring new life to the art. This film was fun and and had profound moments and it was always inventive.

      1. It’s a shame he hasn’t done a full fledged series yet. I’d really like to see him adapt “Kami-sama ga Uso o Tsuki” (The gods tell lies) or even “Corset no Tsubasa”. He’s really good at getting a story across through memorable characters and having an adaptation could lighten the load from an original work giving room for him to shine in developing a set of well-rounded characters for a 1 or even 2 cour series.

      2. NOOOO. Not another director adapting works! Pretty soon there won’t be any original ideas in the industry at all!

        One of the great things about Yoshiura;s works is that they are original and heartfelt. Plus you don’t get fans of the manga complaining like spoilt brats whenever a story arc is changed or dropped.

        That was one of the great things about Patema Inverted, it had so many elements that were unpredictable and undercut the standard anime formulas.

        Sorry if this sounded like a rant but it’s a concern of mine about the film and anime industry turning into a merciless production-line interested in acquiring nothing but money… Which is what all filmmakers would like to make as well as showing off their visions, I know.

      3. I agree to some extent that original works should be prevalent however sometimes it’s good when a work comes along that’s been adapted from another writer. It illustrates how strong both the writer and the director are at their respective crafts even down to the animators. A fitting example is Mamoru oshii’s ghost in the shell. Or more in recent years Mai Mai miracle. Girl who leapt through time is loosely based on a 1967 novel, Sakamichi no Apollon was incredibly awesome with its setting of Japan in the 60’s. There are still a ton of works out there that are original but having that creative element of another work and combining it with an animated story is still pretty neat in my book. Miss Hokusai is an adaptation it looks very promising. I’m not saying that everything should be adapted I’m just saying it would be neat to see this director especially venture into this realm and see what he can do within the limits of storytelling. The two mangos are heartfelt and have a certain charm to them that I feel he could get across to the viewer really well. A reason why I enjoy animation over live action is because of how boundless it can be its so free in how it can project things to the viewer (perfect example is Satoshi Kon) but with a story it’s good to see a change up or rather influential differences in the creative process of Japanese anime at work. Whew typed that on my phone. Lol this is nice that were discussing this.

      4. I don’t disagree with you. I love Ghost in the Shell (more than the original manga), Ghibli’s output and Mai Mai Miracle (which I gave a perfect score) and I’ll defend the current adaptations of Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan against some of the fans of the manga who are complaining about the changes. I just feel that Yoshiura has so many good ideas that he should keep producing original works especially at a time where it feels like everything is formulaic and following trends.

        If I don’t respond to the next comment it’s because I have to go to work now. Catch you later!

      5. I see where you are coming from. Tokyo ghoul is quite different than its manga counterpart, I still watch it though. The first season had pacing issues. I just want to see Yoshiura create a really strong josei series for the television market. Heck even Mamoru Hosoda could pull something off to this measure. Imagine if they worked together: Yoshiura reuniting with music composer Michiru Oshima (loved the Zetsuen no Tempest soundtrack and Patema’s as well) interestingly enough Oshima is composing the score for BONES adaptation of Snow White with Red Hair by mangakan and novelist Sorata Akizuki in the summer of this year. Whew having that alongside GANGSTA by MANGLOBE: I’m thrilled.

      6. The music to Patema Inverted was awesome and I’m so glad that the OST was included with the DVD/BLU-RAY release. I’m also interested in Snow White with Red Hair. I only recently heard about it but checked out the art and liked what I saw.

    2. Agreed. I finally got to see it last night. RE: Wolf Children — I just want to go up to all of Hollywood and shake them really hard and say — WHY CAN’T YOU COME UP WITH SOMETHING HALF AS COMPELLING???

  2. I have been wanting to see it. My son said that I “gasped” when I saw the DVD on the library stacks a couple days ago. I don’t remember doing that — I’m NOT that girly!!!

    I watched it last night. Very good. Still thinking about it now …

    1. There’s no shame in doing that! I think I have the same reaction when I see things I like. Either that or say, “Yay,” or “Helloooooooo.”

      It’s great when something you don’t expect turns up!

  3. Very interesting review. I thought the movie was okay, but so many aspects reminded me too much of some Makoto Shinkai fanboying. That and I thought the villain was too similar to Frollo in Disney’s version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The concept was intriguing though.

    1. Thanks!

      I have to be honest and say that I have not seen The Hunchback of Notre Dame but I will keep your comment in mind if I ever do watch it.

      As for Shinkai, the characters in this film have more agency and guts than his protagonists.

      1. No problem.

        Is that so, now? You’re one of the few people I know who said they haven’t seen that movie. If you do see it, I think you’ll catch the parallels and mannerisms between both characters.

        I see. To be fair, the situation in this movie is more dire and complex than most of his flicks barring The Place Promised In Our Early Days.

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