Tag Archives: Michiru Oshima

Anime-Breakdown: Patema Inverted (2013)

Patema Inverted follows Patema, a young girl from a civilization that resides in deep underground tunnels. While exploring one day, she gets herself trapped in Aiga, an inverted world, and teams up with a resident to escape and return home. Instantly having the appeal of its unique world set up in the opening minutes, Patema Inverted will make you curious to seek answers. Once the film ends, you’ll end up almost exactly where you started in your understanding of the world. The origins are explained, and some of the aftermath on the creation of opposite gravitational pulls, but other details like the changes that might occurred after the film events, and the new discovery from our main characters are left unanswered. The effect of a device that created a shift on Earth’s gravity is also vague implying it does whatever the story demands it, like shifting the weight of characters when traveling. Without proper world building it’s uncertain how the Orwellian dystopia of Aiga would change at all from the events in the film. Furthermore, it’s distracting with the lack of proper world building will make you wonder what exactly happened to the Earth itself since twice in the movies Patema, and her friend reach the highest point of their respective civilization, and there’s no stars to speak off. Adding onto this issue is the lack of explanation of what happened to the first people that fell into the sky given a specific revelation at the beginning of the third act. That revelation leads to more questions that aren’t answered, and some plot holes while the ending also does the same adding to the list of plot holes. 

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And on your left, you’ll see more pointless buildings.

Aspects of Aiga civilization are very broad, and one dimensional in its portrayal. Being a civilization rule by a over the top evil leader Izamura. From the onset, having a villain who thinks he’s doing good in order to maintain order isn’t bad, but it becomes downgraded when the portrayal is over the top. The villain of the film has little motivation to act the way he does, and the religious like mindset to punish sinners isn’t delved into enough to make up his shortcomings. There’s also the unanswered question of how he obtain so much power despite him clearly not being in the right state of mind for it. Given how dead set Izamura is to keep order the only protection he has to prevent outsiders from entering is a fence. More leap in logic includes Aiga being surrounded by cameras, and later implied in the film to be under constant surveillance makes it baffling how the security in Aiga didn’t catch Patema crossing the boarder sooner. I could also bring up the fact the Aiga has students shown to be given points with the implication of worth, shown strict regulation on how people can act, and no parents to be found. However, the film chooses to gloss over these functions of its society, and simply speculating on them will do the film no favors.

At the center of it all is Patema, and Age both teenagers who bond is rushed in the film. Patema dreams of seeing more to the more, and Age likes looking at the stars. These two characters eventually meet each other only to have what should be the emotional anchor of the story to be left shallow. The most effective scenes the quiet moments where Patema, and Age simply talk about their lives. It’s doesn’t sound exciting, but it works in creating good drama. Unfortunately, the quiet moments are sparse throughout relying mostly on a comedic back, and forth between the two. Yet, because of how rushed their bond is there is little time they spent together before one of them gets captured, and has to be rescue. On top of that, because Patema, and Age got separated so early in the movie it renders their eventual reunion ineffective. There is also some kind romance building, though that’s hard to buy since it was rushed, and accepting both characters fell in love after spending like three days with each other mostly apart with everything else going on might be a little too much to accept.

As separate characters, Patema is the stronger of the two. She gets more development, and has more lively personality compare to Age who is simply nice guy. Patema backgrounds get delved into, and getting to see her absorb the beauty, and harshness of a new world she hasn’t seen. Her enthusiasm, and expressed wonder in seeing this new world for the first time helps in providing the film a sense of adventure. Age on the other hand just accepts whatever happens. This changes later on when he becomes more proactive, but lacks growth, and any sort of pay off for following him. Patema eventually gets a rewarding emotional scene when she discovers the fate of her father like figure, but Age is not given that same luxury. When alone Patema is a character that’s somewhat worthwhile to follow, and sadly Age isn’t lending to the uneven nature in the film.

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I can assure you that I am not evil!

Supporting characters remain simplistic, and stay one dimensional. They don’t serve any greater narrative purpose other than what a certain scene requires them. Either be hesitating to shoot Age, have a side character provide comedy, or helping Age in breaking out Patema from a tower. They are functional since in Patema’s home there is an attempt to depict some kind of everyday life for the people, and some world building. Aiga, I already mentioned glosses over its world building. One side of the world you have some fleshed out characters, and a lead character who experiences a satisfactory growth on her journey. On the other side of it you have a major character, and a world who are glossed over during the film. It’s odd, one half of the movie knows what makes a good story, and the other half is that bad movie. Sadly, it’s the bad portions that eventually become victorious as the weaker aspects of the writing overwhelm the good parts the longer it goes.

When it comes to voice acting I would say neither the Japanese, and English track have a clear winner. The Japanese cast has two better lead actors in Yukiyo Fujii, and Nobuhiko Okamoto with a more heartfelt performance. Especially Nobuhiko Okamoto performance helps mask the shortcoming of Age bad writing through his more emotional delivery. In the English dub both Cassandra Lee Morris, and Michael Sinterniklaas are okay in their role. Only Cassandra Lee Morris of the two is able to make Patema captivating. On the other hand, the English dub has a better supporting cast keeping in line with the film overall tone. In Japanese, some of the supporting voice actors can be prone to overact their parts creating tonal whiplash in a scene that isn’t found in the English dub. Dialogue is underwhelming in both version either being fluff, or clunky in places. Regardless what you choose to go with, neither the Japanese, or English voice track will impress.

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Animated sequences like this are the highlight of the movie.

The animation is handled by Purple Cow Studios Japan (yes, that’s the studio name), and it’s nice looking at times. Character designs are uninspired, but make up for it by having them be very expressive. Background are also simple, but during night sequences the background will be given more details to display its beauty. The underground city where Patema live is brittle with detail as well. Anything outside, or inside during broad light though is unimpressive. There’s a few time where the cinematography would have scenes animated upside down. Making for a few unique looking sequences. In rare usage, the camera will also turn sideways, or upside down to show the perspective of the other character. It’s obvious the animation studio abilities are limited since these type of usage of the camera are in short supply. The music is composed by Michiru Oshima making some wondrous tunes. His music elevate certain sequences giving them a sense wonder where the writing lacks in creating. My favorite pieces of his music are for creating a foreboding mood providing a sense of danger, or mystery that severely lacking.

Patema Inverted is fascinating conceptually while the actual movie ends up being less than it could have been. The world is more fascinating to me than the rushed character bonding it’s more focus on showing. If it wasn’t rushed in developing it central relationship than I would have engaged despite the half baked world building in place. All around interesting, and all around somewhat disappointing. It had high goals that it couldn’t grasp fully.

Rating: 4/10

Anime-Breakdown: The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (2017)

Coming of age stories are one of the most relatable type of stories. Growing up isn’t a thing that comes easily, and upon reflection youth is something that feels like it had gone by way to quickly. All sorts of media from novels, to movies, and even anime itself love to do these type of stories. Transitioning from adolescence into adulthood is something that can be apply almost universally. However, finding something in these type of stories to stand out is almost as mundane as sport stories themselves; virtually sticking wholeheartedly to realism, and never venturing into any unfamiliar territory, or experimenting in different genres. Bringing you, and me to the film I’m reviewing today titled The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (Yoru wa Mijikashi Aruke yo Otome in Japanese). A coming of age film excessive on energy, carried by bizarre imagery, filled with wild characters, all coming together into a insane, yet very thoughtful anime film.

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Yes mam, you where this fish!

The Night Is Short, Walk On GIrl follows young woman named “Otome”, and her “Senpai” through an insanely long, bizzare night around Japan. After the first four minutes of the movie briefly setting up a bit of information for its characters, and sharing their plans for the night the movie completely does away with any semblance of normality. Turning into what appears to be a random series of events with some clever ideas getting illustrated along the way. For example, there’s a sequence where Otome, and some pals she met earlier in the night entering a bar, and briefly end up talking about time. The elderly in the bar, and Otome friends mention how time is moving quickly for them, and even show Otome their fast ticking watches. However, when Otome shows the group her watch it goes a lot slower. When brought up, the idea is simply interesting to ponder as it quickly moves on to the next crazy event. The film is filled with small touches like these that through the course of the movie are expanded upon. Going back to the watch passage of time, it’s a detail that rings true to the movie. A majority of the film actually enforces this idea by how long Otome night is, and the crazy amounts of events that occured within the film. There’s also another example of this later on in the film where in the background when Otome visits Rihaku-san it’s shown his clocks moving rapidly forward. Rihaku-san in this sequence, much like Otome, experiences life at such a breakneck while living in the moment, but not having a desire for longing to see someone. Rikahu goes into his sadden state considering his life a failure, and shown in the background clocks slowing down after a discussion with Otome.

The whole film is brimming with seemingly unrelated sequences from a group of students performing Guerrilla Theater, a competition between five men under a large tent eating very spicy food to see who can last the longest to obtain a book of their desire, a drinking battle, the God of the Used Book Market collecting books aiming to set books free, and other craziness ensues. How the film chooses to connect these seemingly random events is through the theme of threading fates. There are a few moments in the film where it plainly lays it out for you; like the God of the Used Book Market explaining how several different books are connected to Otome, and when Otome has a drinking bout against Rihaku she mentions everything happening to her is connected by fate. While virtually the rest of the film doesn’t spell it out for you. When in the moment of experiencing the odd assortments of events it’ll seem unrelated. However, there’s always a small piece that leads into another events either be Otome wanting to see another part of town, or Senpai being pulled into something to win Otome affection. No matter how random it seems, it always lays out how it got from point a to point b successfully thanks to some carefully planned writing. Ensuring self control in its outlandish nature.

The eccentric Otome is front, and center of the story following her night with Senpai endeavors being splice into each other stories. Both are opposites of each other with Otome always being one to move forward, and Senpai taking thing as they could have been. Both of them interacts with a cast of characters that influence growth in them. Otome with her positive outlook on life, and insistent to constantly move forward makes her the life of the party in her scenes. Typically being wild, and crazy as much as she is. Naturally in the course of the movie her encounters with other slowly makes her reevaluate herself, and much like Senpai, discovers a new balance in their life.

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The power of love compels Senpai.

Senpai on the other hand scenes are just as crazy, but as not as fast moving in comparison to Otome. Allowing the audience time to take in the lunacy they had be taken into. Seeing Senpai constantly having to put himself out into the world to have a chance to achieve his goal of capturing the girl of his dream. Going through to great lengths to overcome his many obstacles in his path whether it be an endurance competition of eating spicy food, or running as quickly as he could to take the spot of a lead actor in a play to get a kissing scene with Otome.

Another thing the film covers more subtly is Senpai behavior in obtaining the girl of his desire. At the beginning, he lays out his plan detailing he desired to remove obstacles, and meet Otome by chances so she would notice him more. It’s a strategy that comes across stalkerish initially, but Senpai slowly overcomes it eventually find a more direct answer. Never giving into temptation to fall into creeper territory, even if the desires to read a file detailing about Otome no matter how strong the temptation is within him. His endeavors throughout the movie receives a greater payoff in the final act when it gets into the more nitty gritty thought Senpai conflicting on the best course of action in his endeavor of romance. Thinking about every possibility to approach the situation, and overthinking his affection for Otome wondering if its worth anything.

When it comes to substance there’s plenty to be found in The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl that someone can find some level of deeper meaning in it. There’s a foundation, no matter how small it seems, that eventually comes together into a larger, and broader picture. However, there’s two things that will likely hold the film back from general appeal. One of them being the zany nature of events contrasting against its actual message. It’s a movie about making the transition into adulthood, yet the film has so many bizarrely enjoyable it’s become easier to lose sight of that message. It’s more likely a viewer will remember the bizarre sequence of Senpai competing in a contest of endurance eating hot food against other men than the scene where Otome expresses her life view to live in the moment, and judging things by its own merits. Same thing happens later on in the movie; you’re more likely to remember the odd musical number of romance story involving a singing apple, and a cross dresser than the segment of someone believing love being determined through destiny over life experience. Given its main characters Otome, and Senpai contrast each other, as well as some other characters they meet are contrasting one another. The execution here while deliberate for its own good by design has about as much chances as being taken as pure escapism as much as being something enlightening.

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Look at those lovely visuals.

The second thing that might plague this movie are the loose connection to the bigger picture. Certainly the film has plenty to say, but how much of it can tangibly be linked together is where its get messy. For example, earlier I mentioned the clocks spinning at different speed for Otome, and the people she interacts with. Unless you made a note of that nothing about time is express in the film for over half an hour. Same thing applies with the thread of fate appearing in conversations, and then disappearing at it own leisure. It want to pack so much in its 92 minutes runtime making it very dense in story content. Like the movie mentions several times, everything is connected, but it’s easy to lose to connections with so much going on.

The animation is done by studio Science SARU, and helm by Masaaki Yuasa giving the film a unique style. Characters expressions are expressive, and over the top. Lending itself greatly for effective comedy with exaggerated characters expressions, and fluid movement for 92 minutes. Yuasa let his imagination run wild making sure the film hardly has time to sit still. Nearly every scene is hyperactive in movement, or through various shot compositions makes simple moments memorable. For example, the simple action of someone eating spicy food isn’t made as simple as that. In this film, it’s implements a heat stroke like effects, excessive sweating with huge sweat drops, and disportional puff up lips to get this across. He also empathizes his free range in animation get across other emotions in other manners that aren’t as exaggerated. Another positive about the animation it is ability to allow chaos rein with a surrealism touch, especially in the final act where things are at it crazies. No matter how often it bombards you with visuals the film always make sure there’s always something to see.

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Notice me Otome!

The Japanese voice acting is also phenomenal. It might be lacking in terms of range since nearly every voice actor has be over the top, everyone gives it their all. Either be it through having good comedic timing in the comedic scenes, or offering good singing during the Gorilla Theater scenes. Both Kana Hanazawa who plays Otome, and Gen Hoshino who plays Senpai are the ones taking the lead. Kana Hanazawa perfectly imbues Otome energy into her performance. Bringing to life an infectious, energetic character. She’s also able to deliver some serious dialogue without ever seeming to break her character personality. Gen Hoshino excels in his awkward performance of Senpai. While not as energetic as Hanazawa, he ables to express much more emotional range than Hanazawa. He’s able to be very fridgetity, determined, depressed, and panicky into a likable portrayal. Hoshino pulls of the difficult task of making a character who initially comes off as a stalker as likable. The music is done by Michiru Oshima, and it’s pretty good. Lively during the party sequences, and melancholy during the more slower moments in the final act.

The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl offers a thrilling experience as much as it is enlighten on subjects pertaining to life. Offering a slew of fantastic visuals, memorable bizarre sequences, a wildly fun cast of quirky characters, and an unusual execution of a simple message delivery. Regardless of what you take from The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl you’re ensured to be in for a great time.

Rating: 10/10