Among astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s well-publicized nitpicks about Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity was that a more appropriate title would have been Angular Momentum. If nothing else, it would have freed up the G-word for Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s breathtaking anime Patema Inverted.
Fourteen-year-old Patema (Yukiyo Fujii) has lived her life in an underground society of tunnels and caverns. The ever-adventurous Patema flouts repeated warnings not to venture into a particularly spooky area of the underground called the Danger Zone, falls into a pit, and flies up into the surface world.
There she discovers that gravity works in reverse for her and her people. Without the aid of a non-inverted surface boy named Age (Nobuhiko Okamoto), himself a rebel against a totalitarian government that considers gravitational inversion to be a punishment for sinners, the upside-down Patema will keep falling feet-first up into the sky.
As is so often the case with anime, Patema Inverted raises as many questions as it answers — just what’s up there in the sky beyond the clouds, anyway? — but director Yoshiura keeps the story fairly linear, while playing with perspective and composing many stunning, vertiginous images that consider the different possibilities of being at war with gravity.
And much like last year’s film about angular momentum, Patema Inverted is best experienced on a big screen.