The movie Upside Down, released in 2012, was one of the only movies or shows that explored the visually stunning idea of two world, with equal and opposite gravity’s coexisting right next to one another. People from each would were controlled by the gravity of their respective planets, so if a person from planet ‘x’ goes to planet ‘y’, unless they have something of equal mass tethering them to word ‘y’ they will just get pulled back to their native world. Now, the point of this rather long and, what will be revealed to you as, pointless bit of story is that whenever I scrolled passed Patema Inverted, the anime film released in 2013, I always thought “huh, there goes another Upside Down–but with anime.” SO part of me wanted to see the film, as I loved Upside Down especially for its amazing visuals, but another part of me sort of just put it off for later viewing. It wasn’t until I couldn’t fall asleep recently that I finally decided to give it a chance. And, for the most part it is similar to Upside Down when you consider certain themes, but it is also a much better move than I had ever expected.
In the film’s introduction, an experiment in the near future to attempt harness of the Earth’s gravity for energy results in the devastation as much of the surface with nearly everyone and everything is thrown into a reverse gravity field and sent flying from the Earth.
Unknown years pass, Patema is a respected teenage girl lives in a society that resides underground. Inspired by her friend Lagos, who had left some years before, she explores the tunnels. One day, while looking at a large seemingly bottomless hole, she is scared by a figure that appears to walk on the ceiling, and she falls into the pit. Age is a teenage boy, living in the totalitarian nation of Aiga, founded to protect its citizens from “danger zones” that were created by the earlier experiment. He has been traumatized for some time after watching his father suffer a fatal accident while attempting to demonstrate a flying machine, and desires to continue his father’s dream. While daydreaming at night near a fence surrounding Aiga, he hears a noise nearby to find Patema there, whose gravity is inverted from his. After helping her safely to the ground to avoid having her fly off into the sky, he takes her to a nearby shed, where they learn about each other’s worlds. Age discovers that by the two gripping each other, they can reduce the rate at which he falls, and he suggests using this to help return Patema to her people.
It should be clear where the differences between the two movies I listed about above. It all takes place on one planet. But the way the two governments are set up within the structure of the movie– they might as well be two different worlds. Aiga, the topside world, is very military-heavy and rule-bound. Age gets in trouble right at the beginning of the film for looking up in the sky in an unsavory-type of way, in fact, as boring and mild-mannered as Age seems to be, this world is so strict that they make him out to be a troubling student.
The society of Aiga is set up in such a way that they fear those whose gravity is reversed, calling them “filthy inverts” or even “sinners”. Inverts are seen as offsprings of those people who god punished for their crimes against the universe. They tried to harness mother nature and, as punishment, they were sent up into the sky and killed. But certain inverts, crafty as they are, were able to seek refuge underground and Izamura, Aiga’s fierce leader and head religious figure, seeks the destruction and genocide of the inverts.
Without spoiling the movie, that is all I can really say about the society in this film, they’re super strict and militant and tolerate little outside of the norm– even going so far as to kill those who might be a threat to their way of life. Patema, the stories main character, then, finds herself in a dangerous predicament when she unknowingly “falls” to the surface. She finds help and companionship in Age who shows his true colors when he initially attempts to help her and even decides to rescue her when she is captured.
The movie, as a whole, feels like a post apocalyptic dystopian future-type movie and, from the perspective of Aiga, it very much is. But there is a lot of beauty to be found in this world underground or otherwise. And by the end of the film– there is some definite hope for the future as the would is, pun intended, turned upside down by the end of the third act. But what I found most unique about this film was your perspective of realities changed as the character’s perspective did. You’re view of the world and Aiga or the sub-world is completely different by the end of the movie. Additionally, perspectives based on outlooks changed with the film as well– it kept the film fresh and interesting throughout.
From a character perspective, this film does fall into certain archetypes–like the overly corrupt religious leader who is blinded from the truth, Age himself being a bit of a stereotypical stoic male lead. But that shouldn’t be too much of a detractor for people watching this film as it gives the creative twist of some people being inverted while others are not– and it’s fun to see how these two polar opposite’s interact with one another. Plus Patema is pretty friggin’ adorable in this movie so that makes up for a lot of the cookie-cutter characters.
Finally, if you need to find a reason to watch this movie, and I am guessing that is why you’re here in the first place, do it for the visuals. The art work and scenery found in this movie is top-notch and it is a lot of fun to see the creativeness of people having to interact with one another when one person is upside down compared to everyone else. It sort of reminds me, in style, of my recently reviewed 5 Centimeters Per Second but with a more interesting story that doesn’t put you to sleep. I’ll post some screenshots at the bottom for your enjoyment, but if you want the real experience you just need to go watch this movie! It’s streaming on Hulu for what it is worth?
Here are some Screenshots for your Enjoyment: