The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, No. 84 – Patema Inverted

Patema Inverted

There are several interesting things about this week’s anime: the setting, the animation, the premise and so on. But perhaps the most interesting thing about this anime in terms of its relationship with Britain is how it came to be released: this is the first anime to be released on Blu-Ray in Britain via crowdfunding.

Patema Inverted is an anime film, directed by Yashuhiro Yoshiura, released in 2013 following a series of four short episodes the previous year. It is a science fantasy movie set on Earth after a catastrophe known as “The Great Change”, where following an attempt to use gravity as an alternative energy source the result was a terrible change across much of the planet – gravity is now backwards.

The title character, Patema, is a girl who lives underground but is always exploring the “Danger Zone” which is forbidden. When exploring on one occasion she is attacked by what are known as the “Bat People”, strange masked people who seem to walk on the ceiling. Following her attack Patema drops a bag down a hole, so she climbs down the hole. But there she discovered something terrifying. Everyone and everything on the surface is upside-down, and Patema is terrified that she is going to fall down into the sky. Luckily she is helped by a boy in this strange new world called Age.

Of course to Age and indeed to us, it is Patema who is upside-down or as she is called in Age’s society an “Invert”. Age lives in the totalitarian state of Aiga, ruled by the tyrant Izamura. In Aiga it is taught that during the Great Change it was sinners that were sucked up into the sky, and indeed the Inverts are also sinners. Even looking up into the sky is considered a massive faux par, and Age’s father was killed while experimenting with flight.

Together Patema and Age take on Aiga, and begin to overturn the perceptions of both their worlds, a task made much more difficult by the fact that one of them at any given time is always in the danger of falling to their deaths.

Probably the most interesting aspect of Patema Inverted is how the film was released. The company All the Anime decided to release the film by launching a campaign on Kickstarter. The target was £16,000, and they reached over £38,000. While this was not the first time All the Anime have released a project on Kickstarter, this was the first to finally be released commercially. The other project was another film called Mai Mai Miracle, which is yet to come out.

In terms of the film itself, the thing that makes it attractive is the animation. Because of the situation either Patema or Age are always dangling upside-down, often being held by the other character. Frequently the screen will do a 180 degree turn so it switches from one characters perspective to the other. One of the extras released on the Blu-Ray and DVD of the anime is to see parts of the film as it would be seen by Patema, so you see the film upside-down (or the right way up, depending on your viewpoint).

This does make it difficult to talk about certain points of the film visually, but overall you are just swept away by the animation’s quality. You could argue that the plot is a tad formulaic with Izamura being a pretty obvious villain, but when it comes together the film is still entertaining.

Patema Inverted is now available on Blu-Ray and in an “Ultimate Edition” with Blu-Ray, DVD, the soundtrack and a book, from All the Anime. A simple DVD release comes out just after Christmas.