A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Patema Inverted -- which is a Japanese anime movie with English subtitles -- addresses the issue of one society's unreasonable bias against another. The more powerful group uses guns and other violent means to suppress the underground, which could be younger viewers' first introduction to totalitarianism. But Patema is a plucky and brave young girl, and her friendship with Age is a model of loyalty and devotion. Relationships and courage triumph over fear.
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What's the story?
Patema (voiced by Yukiyo Fujii) is a curious blue-haired young girl living in a dingy underground future world where residents wear protective suits and negotiate "danger zones." Exploring one such area, she encounters a Darth Vader-like figure who walks her world upside down. Startled, she falls into the "other" world, the Earth as we know it. Now she is upside down, an "invert" who's at risk for "falling" up into the sky. This world is under totalitarian rule reminiscent of Orwell's 1984, where all difference is punished and obedience and conformity are required. There she meets Age (Nobuhiko Okamoto), her male counterpart, a mild rebel who resembles a dark-haired, blue-eyed Little Prince. They recognize each other as kindred spirits, having both longed for a different way of living. Age saves Patema from falling up into the sky, and they walk together with arms wrapped around each other, her feet pointing skyward and his barely touching the ground. When the authoritarian government captures Patema, Age travels to the underground world to help save her.
Is it any good?
Director Yasuhiro Yoshiura, who also directed Time of Eve, another dystopic future drama, impressively manipulates the bread and butter of anime. His cinematic pans, tracking shots, close-ups, and black-outs create a world in PATEMA INVERTED that's both believable and beautiful. Kids used to the seamless movements of such fare as Madagascar will wonder why everything moves so slowly, but it can be argued that the stutter-step action suits the theme of a future gone wrong.
As with many stories set in the future, some viewers could question the movie's internal logic. But fans of dystopic future fantasies may be drawn to Patema Inverted's premise of scientific experimentation gone wrong and young people's efforts to grapple with the polarizing unintended consequences. The movie takes a moral position on the need to accept diversity and a skeptical view of the risk associated with scientific exploration, as the upside-down problem was caused when scientific experiments designed to harness gravity’s energy went awry and caused gravity to reverse.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how easy it is to misjudge other people simply because they look different. Why is it important to look past appearances?
Why did the leaders of the "real" world want to destroy the people of the underworld? What threat did the "inverts" pose?
How does Patema Inverted compare to more mainstream American animated films? Which do you prefer, and why?
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