Patema Inverted

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Patema Inverted Movie Poster Image
Dark anime delves into prejudice in upside-down worlds.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids may come away with a sense that it's wise to think through the consequences of your actions before you take them, thanks to the film's finger-shaking at well-intended scientific experimentation that may cause later harm. The movie also depicts deep commitment to friends and allies and the spontaneous acts of bravery necessary when friends face danger. Like Aesop, this offers two lessons -- both "Look before you leap" and "He who hesitates is lost." 

Positive Messages

Judging others by their appearance can cause harm. Fighting for your principles is worth the effort and risk. Sometimes rules shouldn't be obeyed if they're problematic rules. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Age and Patema feel hemmed in by the strict regulations of their worlds and recognize open-hearted kindred spirits in each other. They break rules that have been instituted to foster hate. Facing the threat of violent harm, they display courage. 

Violence & Scariness

Scientists tamper with Mother Nature, which reverses gravitational pull and causes everything, including entire cities, to unmoor and break off into the sky. Renderings of this phenomenon might be frightening to younger children, but neither blood nor gore is pictured. Guns and a knife are displayed threateningly. A dead body is seen, but no blood is shown. Renegades are captured in flying nets.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 12-year-old Written byEurovision November 24, 2018


Patema Inverted was an good, engaging, thought-provoking movie.
Adult Written byT J November 17, 2018
Teen, 17 years old Written byLadyWinter October 10, 2018

Good anime movie

Storyline is a little complex for younger viewers and they did say the D word once but overall I enjoyed the movie.
Teen, 13 years old Written byrebo344 November 16, 2014
A heartfelt film.

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animation

Themes & Topics

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