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Score: 8.09/10


Patema is a plucky young girl from an underground civilization boasting an incredible network of tunnels. Inspired by a friend that mysteriously went missing, she is often reprimanded due to her constant excursions of these tunnels due to her royal status. After she enters what is known as the "forbidden zone," she accidentally falls into a giant bottomless pit after being startled by a strange creature. Finding herself on the surface, a world literally turned upside down, she begins falling towards the sky only to be saved by Age, a discontented student of the totalitarian nation known as Aiga. The people of Aiga are taught to believe that "Inverts," like Patema, are sinners that will be "swallowed by the sky," but Age has resisted this propaganda and decides to protect his new friend. A chance meeting between two curious teenagers leads to an exploration of two unique worlds as they begin working together to unveil the secrets of their origins in Sakasama no Patema, a heart-warming film about overcoming differences in order to coexist. [Written by MAL Rewrite]

A world where there are two sides. Sakasama No Patema (Patema Inverted) is more than just inverted but serves as an illustration to how connections are built. But from these two worlds also breeds hatred and struggles. For Patema, a princess of the underground kingdom, fate comes that ties her together with a young boy as the two worlds collide. A journey into this movie will feel like a sci-fi adventure, one that is inverted and surrealistic with its stylistic performance.

The brainchild of the movie falls under the hand of Yasuhiro Yoshiura, who also serves as the director. His previous involvement in projects such as Eve of Jikan and Pale Cocoon labels him as a colorful director, one that can turn a sci-fi story inside and out. And indeed, Sakasama no Patema is such a film that is literally turned but this time from up and down.

To get an experience of what the world is like, one should first be familiarized with how flight works. Literally, the movie has the two main characters, Patema and Age (Eiji) hanging on to each other as they see their perspective world from different points of view. You ever heard of the perhaps humorous joke of ‘don’t look down’ on a suspended bridge? Try putting your shoes into their position in this movie and you’ll get a good general idea. Nonetheless, the movie wastes little time by introducing the two main characters and their perspective worlds. In the underground kingdom, the technology is rigid and desolate. People there relies on scavenged food and crude machines to survive. But as a curious girl like Patema, she’d definitely want to explore what the outside world is like. Of course, curiosity almost kills the cat as she ventures into the danger zone and gets herself into some serious trouble, more than what she had imagined.

On other hand, there’s the surface world. Unlike the underground kingdom, the technology there is sufficient and its strength lies with the superiors. Classrooms are in fact held indoors with dictatorship and authority by the higher ups. Taken for granted, Patema falls into the danger zone and is thrown into danger until Age prevents her from “falling down”. From there on, we get whole scenarios where he must hold Patema in order to prevent her from flying away. It brings credibility to the term of ‘inverted’. But for a movie with this sense of adventure, there’s needs to be more to add on. From an experimental perspective, there’s also a sense of prejudice as the antagonists label certain characters as “sinners”. On the other hand, there’s the way how Patema experiments with her life in the surface world. At first, it’s easy to tell that she’s scared as a new kid in the world of the unknown. Oh and don’t forget the fact that she sees the world differently as everyone else through her inverted vision. It’s a unique gimmick despite lacking strength in crafting its concept of gravity. In fact, gravity is defied and the law of the universe is negated.

They’re not star-crossed lovers but Patema and Age shares a rather unique relationship. Combined with the way they discover each other, the pair brings dynamics, humor, and integrity. It takes guts to fight off governmental control or those menacing looking bat humanoids as seen throughout the movie. At the same time, their connection builds off what little time they share with each other. Unfortunately, this doesn’t transit into any sort of significant development as most of their moments in the sky is reflected by struggles. What we have here is something they contrast in terms of dealing with their families, friends, and relatives. Patema has the love of her people in the underground kingdom. On the other hand, Age shares minimal connection with his professors and friends (or at least so evidenced) in his society. To make matters worse, we briefly witness Age’s past which comes out as more of a painful memory rather than as a treasure.

As thought provoking as the film sounds to be, the antagonist can and should be labeled as rather stereotypical. Although not a mad scientist, he still has similar ambitions such as making Patema a guinea pig of sorts through intimidation. And of course, he doesn’t get the answer he wants to hear. At the same time, we learn that the classes taught in Age’s world serves more as a propaganda rather than education. There’s a conspiracy vibe going on as we find out more about the past involving the “sinners” and experiments. Then, there are interesting concepts involving the world referred to by the characters. One could formulate their own theories and come to conclusions as how they function. It creates interesting and methodical ways of seeing the story from another point of view, perhaps not opposite down but more with thought.

Like I mentioned before, this isn’t love story but it does have some flags going up in the sky. Some moments capture fine details involving how Patema and Age are fated to be together while other times creates a feeling of despair. For Patema’s childhood friend though, he becomes more like a scapegoat to the story. Despite his heroic efforts, he seems to be unrewarded towards the end. At the same time, the antagonist’s obsession to discover the people from the underground world leads to a downfall, even to a point where his own subordinates questions his motivations. Still, action speaks louder than words and during climatic moments, we witness it firsthand. While it is dramatic, it’s also cheesy and unrealistic where one could feel less attached to how it’s presented.

Artwork is handled by the relatively unknown studio Purple Cow Studios Japan. Yet, its craftsmanship decorate the backgrounds with great creativity. It sharply details the contrast between Patema and Age’s world. The steampunk style of the underground kingdom shows consistency while the surface world focuses on its more advanced society. Character designs also makes sense with Patema’s designs matching her curiosity and attractive cyan hair. However, Age’s character design shows little distinctiveness but instead comes off as a rather normal human being. For the antagonists though, they share facial features to demonstrate their intimidation. In particular, the bat humanoids have a design that makes them look like malevolent machinations. It creates the feeling of fear and how hunters can become the hunted. Finally, the camera angles is important to really bring the idea of ‘inverted’ to life. And I’d have to say, it did just that. You’ll have to see it to believe it.

Likewise, soundtrack is strong and demonstrates maturity. There’s no stupidity in its OST as comedy isn’t a main focus. During the more dramatic scenes, the soundtrack systemically follows in rhythm with the mood. On the other hand, we also get tense and sorrowful moments when characters are put into more complex situations. Speaking of characters though, Patema and Age has voices that matches their persona. Patema sounds like a normal girl despite her status as a princess in her world. There’s no egoistic or brash attitude coming out of her but rather as a girl who is just curious. Similarly, Age has the voice mannerism of a normal boy and often worries about the well-being of others, in particular Patema.

If you ever wanted to fly, take this movie as a motivation. Of course, you’ll probably need some aerial experience to ensure yourself that you don’t land in the wrong place. For Patema and Age, they land themselves into an adventure that will be unforgettable for the rest of their lives. As a movie crafted by such innovative ideas, I find it to be well done but not ultra-thought provoking. Sure, the idea is great but the time the characters spent together lacks meaningful development. Whatever the goal the movie was trying to accomplish focuses mostly on its premise with less emphasis on characterization but more on concept. Still, this movie should still be on your watch list especially if you’re in a mood for wanderlust.

"Sakasama no Patema" is a gripping WWII drama set in 1944 Nazi Germany, detailing the struggles of a young German boy, Age (Eiji), hiding his Jewish friend, Patema, after the government declares that all people of Jewish descent must be "taken care of." Together, they traverse war-torn Germany to bring Patema home and along the way discover the truth of the government's persecution. ... No, not really. That plot synopsis is pretty close though. After falling into a pit that her village declared a danger zone, young Patema is plunged into a bizarre new world where everything is inverted. Suddenly, literally falling into the endless sky becomes a very real possibility. She meets an inhabitant of the land, Age, and they quickly connect with each other. Patema clings to Age very closely, as he is the only thing that stands between her and being "eaten" by the sky. Despite her fear of the sky, Patema discovers the amazing new world that she had been told stories of as a child, living her dreams of seeing the world for what it really is. The world that Age lives in is classically isolated and under absolute rule, complete with a 1-dimensional dictator that crosses his hands in a way that screams "excellent work, my minions." Looking into the sky is forbidden, and Age has already suffered for his curiosity. With Patema, however, he learns that there is more to the world than what he has been taught, and seeks to live his own dreams of flying in the sky as well. The characters are connected in this visually stunning film, literally to stop them from falling but also to emphasize the message that people of different backgrounds can coexist and live peacefully. It's a time tested story that we are no doubt familiar with, but the way the film uses the inverted gravity to bring the main characters together and to build the legends and myths surrounding the world is remarkable. The fact that everything in the film is reversed depending on your perspective is a unique aspect that plays with what is real and not. For example, you could turn your screen upside down and still watch essentially the same film, because the film itself frequently turns itself around so that we can see the same thing from either Patema or Age's perspective. What is normal ground to Age is a ceiling to Patema, with nothing but the vast sky beneath her feet, and vice versa. The story is thought provoking and with so many inversions of the screen, we begin to feel just like one of the characters, confused at the sudden shift of gravity and afraid of what is beneath us. Through this adventure, Patema and Age encounter new worlds themselves, thinking to themselves "This is what was really out here?" They see beautiful things, like the stars in a swirling galaxy, and they see the abandoned, like the wasteland their ancestors forgot about. Even when everything comes together, there are still mysteries left unanswered. Why not try figuring them out? The artwork and animation for the film are top notch. Particular detail is made to the sky, because for all the characters, it is such a mysterious place. Clouds swirl in streaks of white and gray, the stars peek out from the night sky, and the sun illuminates in soft streaks of orange and yellow. There is a scene in the middle of the film that is particularly stunning, where Patema and Age finally found out what links their world and the truth of the past. The color palette between Patema and Age's world is very distinct, and its use of color is no doubt excellent. Along with the visually pleasant film is a soundtrack that captures the mood perfectly. Sometimes it is like "space" music, and at other times it is a sweeping orchestral piece to go along with the sense of adventure in the film. The ending song is "Patema Inverse" by Estelle Michaeu, which is a nice listen that emphasizes the connection between two different worlds. It's been a long time of waiting for this film, but it was well worth it. It was an enjoyable, romantic adventure that took the familiar story of acceptance between 2 different worlds and spun it literally around with gravity inversion, a result of a failed experiment from a long, long time ago. At the heart of the film is a realization that people need each other to survive, and to discover our common features is truly a wonderful thing. Don't be afraid to look up at the sky! Likewise, don't always look down at the ground! There is a much bigger, more fantastical world out there than what school and books tell you. All it takes is a little push.

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