Tag Archives: patema inverted

Should You Watch Patema Inverted?

I absolutely love Patema Inverted. It is another fantastic entry to Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s line of directorial works with an interesting plot and an amazing ending.

The film follows two character, Patema and Age, who come from completely different societies. Patema is a princess living in an underground society. She is in line to be the next leader of this tribe-like group. Age lives on the surface world, in an Orwellian society calling itself Aiga. Led by a religious fanatic and kept in power by his Kerberos lookalike secret police, Age is expected to fall directly into the image dictated by his Glorious Leader. The big difference between the two, however, is that Patema (and her people) are upside down. As in, literally, When Patema comes to the surface world, she is floating to the sky and is only saved by Age. In order for her to live on the surface world, Age takes her to a cottage where she stands on the ceiling.

The story oddly reminds me of the novel series Left Behind. In Patema Inverted, the government of Aiga basically claims that Patema is part of a groups of sinners, and as punishment they were cursed to float to the sky. They call this event The Great Change. The people of Aiga are basically what’s left of humanity. The Aiga and their apparent rule of the rest of humanity, the whole concept of people flying to the heavens for their supposed religious sins, and the religious function of the Aiga’s leader really reminds me of certain stories; that is, a world government setup by an anti-Christ, an apocalyptic event, and a select few sent into the sky (“heaven”) for a religious reason; further, Yoshiura even meshes it with science fiction. I always love works that manage to explain the same narrative from a (albeit fictional) scientific perspective and a religious perspective. It adds believability while simultaneously being mythological or even epic. It does not perfectly mesh into the Left Behind series, obviously, but I think the religious elements, meshed well with science fiction, result in such an interesting take on an already interesting premise.

patema inverted movie poster

I will say that the premise alone is a big determining factor in one’s enjoyment of the film. The film does not make a joke of its premise, but instead presents it as something that everyone in the setting believes. The film never pokes fun at the ridiculousness of itself, as in “haha, yeah, this is kinda stupid, but just watch and it will get better!” Obviously, to me, this whole concept is a little funny – and I will admit, despite how much I love this film, there were some instances that I laughed at the absurdity of what was presented. However, never does the film stray away from its commitment to its premise. In fact, it uses it to very useful affect.

The ending is perhaps one of the most satisfying endings I have ever seen in anime. Not to spoil it too much, but the ending is basically ironic. It reminds me so much of a certain Kate Chopin short story, that I nearly jumped out of my seat. Not only because of that, but because it managed to genuinely surprise me. It comes off as a plot twist, but Yoshiura had already thrown a couple of those at the audience that by the time I got to the ending I was baffled. Those earlier plot twists are barely even talked about by the characters, and are almost ignored, so the final revelation at the end brings together so many seemingly insignificant details so that the final revelation is that much more surprising.

While I do love the ending, there are some bumpy roads. Patema herself is not that significant; in fact, I think she is almost useless. I am frustrated that her impact on events was so minimal, and that she acted very much as a supporting character to Age. Patema is the first major role of the voice actress Yukiyo Fujii. To be honest, she is not a bad voice actress, but her character is the high-pitched voice, which I despise.

Another frustrating character was Lagos, who was very important but is barely in the film at all. Patema is obsessed with him, especially after his disappearance. However, the film does a poor job of explaining why she likes him so much. And, in fact, once we do find Lagos, not much attention is paid to him, and is almost kinda forgotten. Lagos is a MacGuffin – a plot device that serves only as a motivation. However, my frustration lies in the film’s simultaneous attempts at trying to make me care about this elusive disappear-o-tron. In a flashback , Yoshiura attempts to create a heartbreaking farewell scene between Patema and Lagos. The films refuses to explain why Patema is so upset about this; she is just upset about it and that is as far as that goes. Lagos is a MacGuffin, but the film tries to make him sympathetic; he is a character that is given very little development or explanation, but whom we are told is an emotionally important person to Patema. The result is their relationship comes off as very forced.

Yoshiura’s cinematic style does take a bit of a departure here. He plays with the depth-of-field quite a bit, and honestly I think he went overboard with it. Another thing I noticed, a few scenes looked like they were heavily inspired by the work of Mamoru Oshii. Mamoru Oshii loves to have segments of his movies devoted towards setting a certain mood. I cannot really explain it well in words, so here are some examples: as it was in Patlabor 2 and in Ghost in the Shell. Heck, even Hideaki Anno used it in Evangelion 2.22. There are a couple scenes like those in Patema Inverted. I just love watching those.

The music was done by Michiru Oshima, one of my absolute favorites. She also did the music for Sound of the Sky, which perhaps my favorite soundtrack of all time (at least in anime). Her music is golden. Most of the music is memorable, but I think “Father Floating in the Sky” is the most memorable.

All in all, Patema Inverted is a wonderful film. It has an interesting story, great music, and a fantastic ending. It suffers from poor character development and the animation is not fantastic for a film, but it has its good parts and even so Yoshiura can make it look appealing. In terms of eye-candy, actually, I would say that this one is the most boring of his works, as it lacks the interesting character designs of Aquatic Language or the atmosphere of Pale Cocoon. Still, I would say that this is a must-watch, particularly for fans of his previous works.

Twitter bonanza: 11.09.2013

I want to start translating these Tweets. Unfortunately, I am not fluent in Japanese nor do have enough time to translate every single one (that Tales tweet took an hour…). It is something I want to do, though, because I eventually want to translate bigger stuff.

We’ll start off with a funny one.

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Preview — Patema Inverted

sakasama-no-patema-anime-movie-poster-revealed

Many years ago, I remember watching an interesting short film on YouTube. It was called Aquatic Language. It did not make any bit of sense to me, but it did introduce me to what would become one of my favorite directors: Yasuhiro Yoshiura.

My favorite aspect of Aquatic Language was Yoshiura’s skillful usage of mixing traditional animation with 21st century 3D modeling techniques. It was present in Aquatic Language and he would use it even more in Time of Eve. In my experience, the blending of traditional animation with 3D modeling is a hit-or-miss; I thought it was well-done in Zipang, but when I watch Code Geass: Akito the Exiled I want to vomit. In both films, Yasuhiro blends them together in such a way that lets me enjoy the movie undisturbed. They do not look perfectly blended together, but it is easy on the eyes.

Patema Inverted would be Yasuhiro’s first full-length feature film (Time of EVE was originally an original net animation (ONA), and was broadcasted on the internet in 6 episodes; it was later made into a movie format and released in theater). The story of the movie was originally explored in two media formats: a series of animated shorts and a manga.

In short, the animated shorts are about a girl named Patema, who lives underground in a community of other humans. She enjoys exploring the underground tunnels, and what seems to be the vestiges of a much larger–and long gone–human society with great industrial power. She is forbidden by her elders to explore, however, and we quickly learn why when she is attacked by a humanoid (face is concealed) that is… walking on the ceiling.

Wait, what?

After being attacked, Patema falls down a giant hole that takes her to the surface of the “Earth.” Interestingly, she continues to fall upwards, into the sky, until she gets caught on a fence. If you do not understand what I am saying, then simply look at the movie poster above; Patema is falling upwards.

I have read interpretations about this story. One of the more likely ones, was that this is like Alice in Wonderland; that instead of falling into the rabbit hole, the protagonist falls out of it. A humorous analogy, but there is not much less to suggest that Patema Inverted takes any inspiration from Alice in Wonderland, as far as I can see.

The animated shorts explained, what I would assume is, is the beginning of the movie; that is, how Patema got to the surface of the “Earth.” The manga, on the other hand, explores the human society that Patema lives in and the history of it. Unfortunately, the translation of the manga was halted by the original translation group that picked it up. As far as I know, the entire manga remains untranslated into English.

Both the shorts and the manga hinted at a much bigger story, which I assume the movie will explore.

Studio Rikka

Studio Rikka’s official website

Yoshiura Yasuhiro

Yoshiura’s Twitter