Starring: Yukiyo Fujii, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Masayuki Katô
Director: Yasuhiro Yoshiura
Running Time: 98 mins
Patema Inverted is a Japanese film about a girl living in a secluded and dark underground world who falls down into an upside down world completely different from her home. However, upon joining forces with a disillusioned local, she aims to find a way back to her own world and bring the news of the inverted world with her.
With undoubtedly one of the coolest concepts for a sci-fi, Patema Inverted presents some fascinating ideas throughout, and stuns with its visual brilliance from start to finish. Unfortunately, for what it has in originality, it really lacks in character depth and development, meaning its central relationship isn’t quite as engrossing as the sci-fi fantasy side of things.
Let’s start with the positives, the biggest of which definitely comes from the film’s brilliant imagination. The opening act, centring on the mysterious underground world in which Patema lives, as well as her first encounter with the world on the beneath her, where the gravity is opposite, society is different and her kind is banned, is huge fun to watch, feeling like a properly unique and brainy set up for a fascinating sci-fi adventure.
What’s more is that the focus we get on Age, a boy living in the other world and effectively Patema’s counterpart, is just as interesting, as we learn about his disillusionment with the allegedly perfect society on his world, and his desire to bring the two worlds closer together after meeting Patema.
The two characters team up from then on to do everything they can to end the bitter rivalry between the two worlds, as well as attempting to right some wrongs from their own pasts, all of which makes for an interesting watch within the unique sci-fi setting.
However, the issues come when the film starts to get into the nitty-gritty of the relationship between Patema and Age. Whilst the context in which their union comes about is really interesting, given that we don’t know all that much about them apart from their common desire to unite the two worlds, means that they don’t really have enough depth to make a compelling leading couple.
Yes, they’re good fun to watch as the protagonists throughout, and the fantastic image of the two walking around with opposite gravity on each other’s worlds is brilliant, but when the film slows down and moves away from the wider context of the film, it really loses its punch due to a misplaced and frankly uninteresting focus on the central relationship.
That said, you can still take a lot of good things away from this film. The unique and imaginative qualities are excellent throughout, and its animation is just as stunning as you’d expect from modern Japanese anime, working wonders to bring these bizarre worlds to life. So, although it’s by no means a perfect film, I did enjoy Patema Inverted, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0 overall.