GKIDS’ distribution team brings us a wonderfully thoughtful film that presents a question we’ve all contemplated at one point or another: What if we fell up? Patema Inverted is director Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s first feature length film, and though it has some problematic elements that get in the way of the answer to that question, it still manages to set the bar incredibly high for his future films.
Patema is the Chief’s daughter, and she lives underground with her people in a series of caverns and tunnels. Everything in her vicinity is made out of metal, and the only light that is felt comes from artificial light bulbs. Naturally, Patema has a yearning for exploring beyond the confines of her surroundings, which brings her to the “Danger Zone” where she’s confronted with a man-like figure only he is completely hidden behind cloaks and a mask with red glowing eyes. And oh yeah, he’s standing on the ceiling. After falling through the danger zone, she finds herself clinging to a chain link fence on the surface world, her feet pointing skyward, which is where she meets Age (eye-gee), whose feet are planted firmly on the ground. Together they explore what the physical possibilities are when you combine an Invert/Sinner (Patema) and a regular human, all while avoiding being caught by the ruling authorities of Age’s world.
From the very opening of this film, you are transported into a world that is both beautiful and perplexing. The film incorporates both 2D animation and CGI giving the viewer moments of reverence for the artwork, as well as unsettling moments of “I can’t quite put my finger on it”. However, after viewing the film 1 1/2 times, taking into account the themes that Yoshiura has incorporated into the story, it’s easy to see why he made such a choice in blending the two stiles of animation. The story largely deals with the idea of Eiji and Patema’s worlds colliding, changing the perspective of their lives and of those around them. And they do it together, much in the same fashion that 2D and CGI is working in the film to bring the viewer a new perspective on the story, changing your life one scene at a time.
While I do believe Yoshiura was successful in carrying out the themes throughout the film, not all of the elements came together in harmony. Some of the camera work felt a little too manipulated, making the viewer aware of this grand sweeping move to reveal whatever landscape or scenery Yoshiura was attempting to highlight. The same goes for pivotal moments in the music which was simply too overbearing during really important moments that could have done well with musical support, not musical showboating.
More importantly, the story does keep you going all the way through to the end. Though I’ll admit, I had to watch the ending twice because it went completely over my head. This might have been because I tend to lose focus when I’m exhausted, or perhaps because there were so many unanswered questions at the end of the film that it felt like we were missing whole parts of the story.
As is typical with most foreign films, there aren’t too many added features to the DVD/Blu-ray, but this one at least has a few good ones:
- English and Japanese Audio Tracks for the Movie
- English Subtitles
- Audio Commentary With Producer and Voice Cast (In Japanese with English Subtitles)
- Interview with Director Yasuhiro Yoshiura (Video, Japanese with English Subtitles)
- Interviews with Voice Cast (Video, In Japanese with English Subtitles)
- At The Premiere with Director and Voice Cast (Video, In Japanese with English Subtitles)
The translation quality is very good with all of the added content, though it does get a little confusing during the Audio Commentary as to who is saying what.
Though the film has its faults (and what film doesn’t?), this is an incredibly wonderful film for any collection. Even with the grandiose music and slightly overworked camera, the animation alone is something to be very excited about, let alone the story itself. I am excited to see what Yasuhiro Yoshiura has in store for his next film.