Yasuhiro Yoshiura's PATEMA INVERTED
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
The themes of societies separated for millenia finding their way back together, along with the drama and conflict thus generated, are common in science fiction.
Whether the “worlds” exist underground/above, on separate planets, or on a long-voyage starship, we have come to expect that two young lovers will attempt to bridge the divide. Their elders/governments/families will oppose the union. The resulting conflict propels the young lovers to make decisions/take actions that place them on a collision course with their loyalties.
So it is with PATEMA INVERTED, a feature length anime film from Japan. Or so I thought during the first third or so of the film and considered stopping. But I’m glad a kept watching. By the end I realized that I had just seen an incredibly well rendered and gorgeously animated tale involving two societies that exist next to each other under two opposite gravitational fields.
What’s up to one is down to the other. At first this not-unheard-of concept seems to be simply a gimmick to bring the girl (Patema) and the boy (Age) together. As the film progresses, details and layers of backstory are added and displayed via lavish and detailed animation that will make experienced viewer realize we are seeing some first-class and complex world-building here.
The film is certainly not perfect. The two main characters, for example, are pretty ordinary looking and rendered with the unrealistic large-eye anime features of many anime young people. Their movements and behaviors are sometimes rendered in stiff or stilted fashion even when the above- or below-ground (or in-the-sky) backgrounds are spectacularly illustrated. Voice acting is good, though, so emotion and feeling communicate well despite their ordinariness. English subtitles are easily followed. (For examples of young female characters rendered with much more energy and expression see Nina from RAGE OF BAHAMUT VIRGIN SOUL or Amy in GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET.)
This film should be of interest to SF fans interested in clever world building as well as young people unfamiliar with the underlying story elements. Recommended.
Review copyright © 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald. Movie viewed via the KANOPY streaming service app made available by the Alexandria Public Library in Alexandria, Virginia.