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Patema Inverted

Monday 21st April 2014

Jonathan Clements on the movie that turns anime on its head

Patema InvertedDeep in an underground society, Patema defies her elders by exploring the forbidden levels, discovering a seemingly bottomless pit, into which she falls. On the surface, the disenchanted schoolboy Age (an odd choice of spelling for the Japanese name Eiji) plays truant at the edge of a hole in the ground, out of which Patema “falls” upwards. Her world is entirely upside down – she and her people are the descendants of the victims of an experiment gone wrong, who will fall into the sky unless they are anchored to the Earth.

Boy-meets-girl has never been so strange as in this feature, in which the leads must literally cling to each other or fall away to an uncertain fate. Originating, like the director’s earlier Time of Eve, as an Internet animation upgraded to a feature, Patema Inverted winningly plays with matters of spatial awareness, perspective and weight, regularly flipping its angles until the viewer literally can no longer remember which way is truly up. Its release a few scant months ahead of the similarly-themed Hollywood movie Upside Down (2013) shows that Japanese storytelling can still be at the forefront in global competition.

Like the protagonist of Osamu Tezuka’s classic Jumping, Age and Patema swing up and down in increasingly far-reaching leaps, exploring the odd history of their world in the process, and also challenging the established order in both of their tribes. Age’s is the better realised – an Orwellian state in which even looking up is frowned upon. Patema’s is more roughly delineated, with little consideration of how the “Inverts” might acquire clothes or food in their limited-resource underground hideaway.

Yoshiura playfully subverts a few traditions, including a lead who interrupts her own swelling musical soundtrack to confirm her arrangements for meeting later, and a baddie’s henchman who not only switches sides, but charmingly offers comfort to a thwarted love interest. Yoshiura confessed in an interview that these are all part of his overlying scheme for “inversions” throughout the plot, that every possible element of his film should involve a clash of opposites or the confounding of expectations. This attention to detail can be seen in everything from the regimented but unhappy overground realm to the chaotic but jolly underground exiles. Even Michiru Oshima’s music is revealed as an outgrowth of this idea, with the two leads’ themes each written as a musical palindrome of the other, advancing on its own counterpoint until they unite in a new synergy.

Patema InvertedThe film also features impressive penmanship from Michael Arias, who is credited with much of the contents of the English-language notebooks, to which the action occasionally cuts away for expository scenes. Ending, like Hayao Miyazaki’s  Ponyo, with the world explained but the central relationship still immensely unlikely to succeed, Patema Inverted is an immensely ambitious movie that perhaps really should have been made in vertiginous 3D – given the treatment of, say, Gravity or Inception, it could have truly dragged Japanese animation to the forefront of experiments in Cartesian space.

But as Yoshiura reveals, even this element was approached “backwards”. Where Japanese animation usually constructs solidity and depth out of pencil sketches on paper, Yoshiura and his team experimented first with 3D layouts and imagery, only then building their storyboards out of these artefacts. In a sense, then, Patema Inverted began in three dimensions, with detailed experiments in world-building and storytelling for an audience that must engage with an upside-down world, only flattening into a 2D movie as the production process went on. It’s this three dimensionality – a depth of field and a sense of ever-challenging perspective – that makes Patema Inverted such a feast for the eyes, and a tease for the brain.

Patema Inverted goes on limited release in UK cinemas in May, and features at the Sci-Fi London Anime All-Nighter on Saturday 26th April.


The Transformers - The Movie Limited Edition, 30th Anniversary Steelbook (2-blu-ray Set + Digital Copy)

was £29.99
The TRANSFORMERS – THE MOVIE 30th Anniversary Edition featuring the newly remastered movie from a new 4K transfer of original film elements.

The AUTOBOTS, led by the heroic OPTIMUS PRIME, prepare to make a daring attempt to retake their planet from the evil forces of MEGATRON and the DECEPTICONS. Unknown to both sides, a menacing force is heading their way – UNICRON. The only hope of stopping UNICRON lies within the Matrix of Leadership and the AUTOBOT who can rise up and use its power to light their darkest hour. Will the AUTOBOTS be able to save their native planet from destruction or will the DECEPTICONS reign supreme?

Bonus Content:
• ‘Til All Are One – A brand-new, comprehensive documentary looking back at TRANSFORMERS: The Movie with members of the cast and crew, including story consultant Flint Dille, cast members Gregg Berger, Neil Ross, Dan Gilvezan, singer/songwriter Stan Bush, composer Vince Dicola and others!
•Audio Commentary with Director Nelson Shin, story consultant Flint Dille and star Susan Blu
• Featurettes
• Animated Storyboards
• Trailers and TV Spots

For the ultimate fans and collectors, The TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE Limited Edition, 30th Anniversary Steelbook comes with highly collectible Steelbook packaging, 2 Blu-ray set of the newly remastered movie (Both aspect ratios), immersive bonus content including brand-new featurettes, plus many more. This is a must-own collection to every fan's library!        



Tezuka's 101 Dalmatians

Andrew Osmond unearths a little-known cross-over
It’s a Japanese translation by Minoru Kume of the classic British children’s book, The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, with about seventy Tezuka illustrations in his characteristically cartoony style.

The Weird World of Rotoscoping

Andrew Osmond on the history of animation’s corner-cutting secret
Rotoscoping and its descendants are an important part of American cinema, and recognised today. Many film fans know, for example, that Gollum, Peter Jackson’s King Kong and the rebel anthropoid Cornelius in the Planet of the Apes reboot are all based on physical performances by one actor, Andy Serkis. Again, it’s common knowledge that the Na’vi aliens in Avatar were human actors ‘made over’ by computer – the digital equivalent of those guys wearing prosthetic foreheads and noses in the older Star Trek series.

Robotics Notes

Andrew Osmond tries to build his own robot…
Robotics;Notes could be called You Can Build Your Own Giant Robot! It’s about geeks engaged in a preposterous project; building the mecha they’ve seen in anime for real. The show’s aimed at viewers who might think they really could. After all, they’d probably heard of otaku who have built oversized robots for real.
Fray pays a visit to a Japanese canned food restaurant.
Jordan and Fraser pick their favourite new shows from the summer anime season, what are yours?

By the Will of Genghis Khan

“Not long ago, Genghis Khan evoked only unpleasant memories..." Er...
Andrei Borisov’s epic film By the Will of Genghis Khan presents the historical figure Temujin not as the terrifying bogeyman of European lore, but as he is remembered across much of the East, as a just ruler, a lawgiver, and a man of honour.
Sushi Noms sent us an AmaiBox GIGA which definitely lived up to its name… The choice was pretty overwhelming!
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