I went to the International Film Festival this weekend and was fortunate enough that one of films showing was a new Anime called Patema Inverted. The film was a treat. It had a well thought out post-apocalyptic world with an incredibly fun use of alternative physics, a great caste of characters and a religion that helped me to understand how easily fear can assist in the believing of fanatical beliefs.
In the past certain areas of the world has had its gravitational field reversed and in those areas all of the buildings and people fell up into the endless abyss of the sky. A few of these people survived and were forced to create a new world under the earth, an upside-down world mostly shut off from the original gravity bound populace on the surface. What really impressed me was the culture of this upside-down world, where the surface is considered a dangerous place and the sky is something to be feared by these people. This is done to the point of not telling the children of this other right-way up world below them until a certain age, making the reveal of this to the main character, Patema, that much more shocking.
On the surface she meets the second main character, Age, who lives in a dystopic theocracy that has been set up where the sky and the idea of flying has become a subject of religious taboo. At school it is told to everyone that the reversing of the gravity was God’s way of punishing the sinners. This is all taught under the command of it’s theocratic dictator. While learning the mystery of Age’s father and how he was murdered when trying to create a flying machine to bridge his world and the world of the remaining ‘sinners’, we see the main theme of the story; fear. The fear of falling into the sky or the fear of the sky in general, is what drives this dictator in his goal to rid the world of these ‘sinners’ by kidnapping Patema in order to use her to get into this underworld.
It is this fear and its sister theme of trust which drives forth its story and also where the physics fun starts. For when Patema meets Age in his up-right world she is forced to rely on him to go anywhere without falling into the sky. This is mutually beneficial because it also allows Age to fly from his downward pull and the differences in weight between them. This creates many amazing situations where the characters are forced to rely on one another to use their different weights and gravity to do some very cool things. It gets even better when we discover that heavy materials in these worlds also have these different gravitational pulls and using them in the right way gives the possibility for anti-gravity flight… which because of the religion is forbidden. BAM, take that advancement of technology!
When it comes to the characters there is a real kinship of interest in the discovery of these element of the world that links the characters in both friendship, and in the case of the main characters, a bit of young romance. With both of their fathers having a mysterious past, each involving a fascination with the sky planted into them as children as well as having a repressed upbringing, their relationships feels wholly organic. There’s a few minor characters to complete a love triangle, a hesitantly redemptive dictator assistant and ‘the bad guy’. All I can say is that they really did a good job of making him an evil bastard and even after discovering that fear is the reason for his madness I still couldn’t feel sympathy for him. He reminded me thoroughly of Hamdo from Now and Then, Here and There.
As though not willing to be out done by the awesomeness of the plot the animation was absolutely beautiful with massive landscape designs and lighting to rival Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. The character design was not my favorite but after a while I got used to it and even liked it in the end. The music went incredibly well to draw you into the scenes and even stole the film in some places. All up if I had one gripe it was that it wasn’t long enough, it had SO much potential for awesomeness and because of this I wish it had been a series and not a film.
This was a really fun movie and thrilling to boot, the likelihood of falling always a constant risk for one or the other of the main characters. Even the fact that these element of fear worked showed that the characters were done well enough for you to really care what happened to them. Including the animation and music, the portrayal was magical. Given to it being a new film I would recommend this film to anyone who has a chance to watch it.
Total Rank: 9/10