It’s time to review a pretty recent anime film. Aside from franchise titles like (Super) Naruto and (Ultimate) DBZ, I rarely have time to check out one shot anime films like this one. I check out a bunch of live action ones, but anime films are just a little rarer. Well, I can safely say that this was a pretty good title and it succeeded in its genre pretty well. It’s not really an action so you shouldn’t go into the film expecting a lot of fights, but the dialogue is good and the plot is interesting. In the end, that’s all that you need to be a good film if you play your cards right.
A cruel trick of fate sent many of the world’s inhabitants into the sky along with everything that they had built. Their gravity had shifted thanks to an experiment that went dreadfully wrong. The ones who managed to cling onto something escaped underground, where they live an upside down..or inverted life. Patema is the princess of these people and one day she is chased by a batman (Aw yeah!) so she trips and falls above ground. She meets a man named Age who helps her inside a house so she doesn’t float all the way up to space. Age must help her get home, but the corrupt government wants to destroy her along with all of the other Inverts. Can the bonds of friendship between Age and Patema be enough to stop these villains or will they need to fight!?
That’s the jist of the film. The gimmick of being forced to endure reverse gravity is definitely interesting. The film shows you Patema’s point of view on more than one occasion and it’s always very interesting to see. Mentally picturing it can be quite difficult even if you just think about flipping everything. It’s simply not an easy thing to do and the sky certainly becomes a fearsome sight as it’s essentially a fall to oblivion. Needless to say, you never want to fall down. It would certainly be tough to live like that and I do have to wonder how her people were able to survive. How did they build enough equipment to sustain life or make food to eat? These are questions that we can just sidestep for a while I suppose, but they will certainly linger with you for a while.
The soundtrack is pretty good. It’s upbeat and fitting for the film while also retaining some dramatic tunes for the serious moments. You probably won’t remember a whole lot of the themes by the time that it is over, but they were still enjoyable. We also got a lyrical song during one-two of the scenes, which was pretty neat as well. I’m always ready for a good insert song. We also got some good animation as well. It may not be quite as good as the average anime of that year (Anime keep on growing better and better as the years go by (barring the 90’s) so it’s really tough for any film to match them at this point) but it still looks good. It is slightly more mainstreamed/americanized in the designs, but the eyes keep the true anime feel to it that I am always fond of. There weren’t many chances to show off the animation like with fight scenes or chaotic backgrounds, but all of the scenes did look pretty good. It certainly helps the adventure move along and stay enjoyable.
Patema is one of the main characters and she’s a likable lead. She is curious about the surface world and is one of the only individuals brave enough to head there. It was partially by accident, but most of the others wouldn’t even investigate the area so she still holds the edge in bravery. Considering how scary the visuals are from her point of view, she definitely deserves some props as she chooses to trust Age as they run across the landscapes. If he were to let go for an instant, it would be game over.
Age seems like a nice guy and he’s also a pretty good main character. He seems to be pretty bored with the current system that the world has set in place and he’s glad to disregard protocol when he meets Patema. Both of them have sad origins involving their parents or relatives so they bond pretty quickly. Age is determined to help Patema no matter what so he gets his share of heroics as the film goes on. He’s still not the greatest lead out there as I would like to see a little more aggression and hot headedness in him, but Age gets the job done. He’s not annoying or just mean like other leads.
The film deserves a lot of credit for staying away from the old fanservice trap. There’s no fanservice to be found here and you always feel like giving the film a fistbump when you realize that what it has achieved. It’s still pretty rare for a film to avoid the trap so you have to sing its praises. The one gripe that I would have with the film’s writing is that Age didn’t stay in the friend zone. I was hoping that Patema would tell Age that he was a nice friend, but that he shouldn’t get any ideas about being more than that. This didn’t happen and they ultimately get past that point. At least it’s only a quick scene and it doesn’t last for long while also being mostly off screen, but that also shows just how close the film was to keeping that friend zone at the ready. You don’t fall in love after a single day/week after all.
Now, where would this film be without a villain right? Unfortunately, we are all out of interesting ones so it’s time to settle for a generic foe. The head of the government is an old man who’s pretty twisted and he has probably cracked. He wants to destroy all inverts because he knows that they would usurp his power and change the status quo. Naturally, we can’t have that so that’s why he wants to get rid of them all. If he just stuck to yelling threats and pointing his gun around, he could have been decent or at least tolerable. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t happen and he talks way too much. It’s a shame that nobody thinks to dethrone him since he’s so blatantly evil.
The villain has a right hand man, but that character is pretty bland. He has a big moment by the end and we realize that his character has some potential, but it’s also a little late by then. What has this guy been doing all these years? It definitely took him a while to do anything. Patema also has a friend who helps out a little during some of the scenes, but his role is still pretty small. He thinks of himself as Age’s rival, but that doesn’t always work out for him.
As with most films, there is one scene that will definitely make you think of the term “Plot hax.” Age’s father built a blimp so he could prove that being in the air wasn’t evil, but he randomly fell out and died. People were pretty sad, but they knew that it was simply the curse coming back to bite him. I’m sure that it’s pretty obvious how the guy died, but why didn’t any of the spectators notice? They likely wouldn’t have heard anything, but they were right under him so a quick body inspection would be impossible to stop. All of those witnesses should have seen everything so I definitely didn’t buy the plot twist. The dad seemed like a nice guy and I also liked his inverted counterpart, Lagos. A film about their exploits may not have been bad, but they didn’t get a whole lot of time together so it would be short. They definitely got along pretty well and it’s a shame that they couldn’t get a happier ending.
Overall, Patema Inverted is a pretty good film. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not an action film and I would treat it more as a slice of life or maybe a drama. The film starts out as an average day for Age and then it becomes an adventure that he’ll never forget. The film is all about looking at the world from a different perspective and it’s fun to see the heroes learn how to use their different gravity situations for the better. Flying sounds like a lot of fun and going through the clouds must be a lot of fun. There are really no negatives to speak of here and the film never drags on. This means that we’re getting another film that easily reaches 7 stars here on the blog. It just goes to show that good writing will trump the lack of action weakness every time. I definitely recommend checking this film out as it’s good in all areas. It’s a complete cinematic experience and one of the better one shot anime films that I’ve seen.