There are many mysteries around the world that most of us question to reconnoiter and figure out the answers to many of them and there are some that are afraid of what goes on outside their perfect world and would rather look the other way….and if those happens to be part of a higher authority, you are surely going to be screwed over that.
That and don’t fuck around with gravity.
A world, forever beyond your expectations. In a dark, cramped, underground world of endless tunnels and shafts, people wear protective suits and live out their modest hard and yet happy lives. The princess of the underground community, Patema, goes out exploring as always, inspired by her curiosity of the unknown depths of the world. Her favorite spot is the “danger zone”, an area forbidden by the “rule” of the community. Despite being frequently chastised by her caretaker Jii, she cannot hold back her curiosity for the reason behind the rule, because no one would tell her what the “danger” was. When she approaches the hidden “secret”, the story begins.
To be honest, I never heard of the director Yasuhiro Yoshiura or most of his works (the most notable being Time of Eve) but this style of storytelling and filmmaking is recognizable in terms of anime (much like movies from Hayao Miyazaki or Makoto Shinkai….the latter being another director whose works I haven’t watched yet.) But in the case of Patema, the story and world built around it is one of the most compelling aspects of the movie from knowing that flying is basically prohibited in the above world and that if you look into the sky, then you’re a sinner to people’s eyes and anyone who’ll try it could get into some trouble. While it’s fascinating, it does tread familiar territory in terms of most story tropes like the surrounding has a utopian/dystopian tone, being an inverted being on Earth (that and trying not to fall into the sky since Patema is upside down and from her perspective, Age is actually upside-down) and the whole ‘X thing is not allowed here’. There is even distinguishable character tropes like main character has a dead parent they look up to, another main character wants to escape out of their shell of a life and explore into another world and the main villain is a very hammy bad guy with a warped agenda. The plot never seemed that resonant but it knows what it’s trying to do and how it gets your attention.
As I said with characters, they have some typical character traits for a movie like this. You have Patema, the outsider who wants to discover a world beyond her and Age (pronounced A-Gee) is our character who feels that way, too, but of course there’s a dead parent angle to him. These two main characters are sympathetic, amiable and pleasing to its audience and their on-screen presence doesn’t overstay its welcome nor gets too sappy; it’s quite reminiscent to Renton and Eureka in Eureka Seven. Izamura, our antagonist, is basically your typical big government bad guy that is so damn hammy, the word VILLAIN should’ve been stamped on his forehead. The only characters left to discuss is either Lagos, whose own journey is best left untold by me due to spoilers and Patema’s guardians Elder Jii and Porta, who have their moments in the movie with Patema. However, one character named Kaho (whose name I had to look up because I don’t think I heard anyone said her name) – I felt like that character didn’t add anything to the plot or story overall and just a background character that barely got noticed in a few scenes.
To say the animation and artwork is visually great to look at is superfluous to any anime movie as they always have a bigger budget than anime TV shows but it’s true for Purple Cow Studios…..and yes, that is the production company who provided the animation for this. The colors are vibrant and have the right amount as they want to be, especially in the underground scenes. Character designs are mostly basic in anime designs, possibly the most normal-looking designs I’ve seen in a fantasy anime movie.
For music, my favorite thing about it in the movie is the song “Patema Inverse” by Estelle Micheau as hearing the song really puts you in awe and wonderment once hearing the song during one of its scenes. It has the right mood, tone and emotion laid on to it.
As for the English dub, I got to say that right now (In my opinion) NYAV Post is probably the most underappreciated dubbing studio we have right now because this was a solid dub from them and I think they should get more work in the future (and I think they will in the future). There was some fine voice direction from Stephanie Sheh and a good adapted script from Marc Diraison. You also got some stunning performances from NYAV regulars Michael Sinterniklaas (Age) and Cassandra Lee Morris (Patema). Richard Epcar voicing Izamura acted as hammy and evil as the character was made out to be. Robbie Daymond also delivers a good performance as Porta, especially since the last time I heard him in was Sailor Moon and possibly the most surprising performance was Chris Niosi (better known as Kirbopher of TOME and TvTome Adventures) as Lagos as I found his performance to be a highlight of the dub.
FINAL VERDICT: While this isn’t exactly a thought-provoking movie, it does get you hooked into knowing more about it. It’s a fantasy story that treads familiar territory with its story and character traits but has the sense to make you get devoted into going further with it.
And with that said, does the movie can held as good or be sent into the oblivion sky?
It’s an 8/10 – Solid B.
PATEMA INVERTED is available on DVD and Blu-ray via GKIDS. As the time of this review, the movie is available for streaming on Hulu.
And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and……I hope to hang on the next person’s waist if I end up like Patema.
No, believe me, I would hang on to dear life on your ass.
PATEMA INVERTED – animated by PURPLE COW STUDIOS JAPAN / distributed by GKIDS/CINEDIGM