PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Marshall

Review: Patema Inverted / Cert: PG / Director: Yasuhiro Yoshiura / Screenplay: Yasuhiro Yoshiura / Starring: Yukiyo Fujii, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Shintarô Oohata, Shinya Fukumatsu, Masayuki Katô / Release Date: TBC

Scotland Loves Anime is an annual festival that takes place in Edinburgh and Glasgow, showcasing the new and the classic while celebrating all the weird, wild and wonderful worlds that Japanese anime has to offer.

Patema lives in a community of underground scavengers, surviving on what supplies can be uncovered from their network of caverns. To venture topside is forbidden, as a disaster far in the past left gravity inverted for many people and as such they forever run the risk of falling into the sky. Schoolchildren of the topside country are taught never to look up, lest they begin to wonder about leaving the ground. The dogmatic society teaches that only sinners fall into the sky and that to consider following them is tantamount to sedition. When Patema quite literally falls into Age’s life, he soon discovers there may be more to what he has been previously taught about the Inverts.

One thing that immediately sets Patema Inverted apart from a standard anime is its full use of three dimensions. That’s not the usual put-on-uncomfortable-glasses-and-watch-the-screen-fling-stuff-at-you kind of 3D, but a far more sophisticated construct where spatial dimensions are altered by the angle of the image. Several vertigo-inducing shots come courtesy of a flipped perspective, given by rotating the image 180º. Where Age sees Patema simply floating in the air, while he grips her tightly to prevent her drifting away, she sees herself holding on for dear life as she dangles precariously over an endlessly wide and bottomless abyss threatening to swallow her without effort. It even adds that “crosswind in a void” sound effect to emphasise the vertical desolation. What could have been merely a stylistic gimmick is the pivotal detail in a world that plays consistently by its own rules and as a result provides a number of story twists.

In most fiction, religious fundamentalists who run a society are often portrayed as sanctimonious hypocrites who preach one thing to keep the populace in line, while being aware of its falsity but keeping quiet about it to avoid losing their power base. However the topside nation’s priestly ruler is a zealot of a much scarier kind. He believes utterly in the hateful bile he spews, seeing the Inverts as barely even human, merely damned souls existing on borrowed time, unworthy of even the breath they draw. It’s from his hatred that much of the story’s conflict is drawn, and his unapologetic malevolence in dealing with those who defy him makes any victory all the more satisfying.

It’s a universal truth that young people are always going to want more from life than what their elders teach is available to them. It’s the inquisitive natures of Patema and Age that puts them both into danger, but it’s also what drives them to investigate the truth of what happened all those years ago. Both feel restricted by the rules of the society in which they were raised and both yearn for something other than what they’ve been taught is all that life holds. The building relationship between them pushes the story forwards, and through their unquestioning belief in one another the truth is eventually revealed.

Expected Rating: 7 out of 10

Actual Rating:

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