I saw a fabulous anime last night in Darwin: Patema Inverted (サカサマのパテマ), a 2013 Japanese anime science fiction film by Yasuhiro Yoshiura. It is so wonderful on so many levels (no pun intended).

It is a commentary on our society of propaganda and “reality” construct; a society that churns out school children and “knowledge” like products on a conveyer belt; a world ruled by fear and bullies. Sakasama no Patema (a much more interesting title linguistically*) celebrates a search for truth, understanding and peaceful coexistence within an upside down world.

As a child I would lie on the floor looking up at our high ceilings and dangling light fittings and imagine living in an upside down world; a world with inverted lights that came out of a sloping white floor, where I could look up to see a cluttered ceiling of chairs and rugs and tables.

This winter, sleeping under the stars in the desert of central and north Australia, each night I would fall into the sky and the dark places within the Milky Way. And when I slept under trees I would peer through the filigree silhouettes of the leaves against the blue evening sky and again in the golden morning light; I had never really looked so carefully at leaves and branches before; to see their repeating but ever varied patterns; and observe the movement of clouds and birds beneath them…

I have just completed two weeks underground playing my shakuhachi within the tunnels below Darwin, exploring their resonance; a hot and sticky place, filled with seeping water and shadows. After several days exploring the acoustics; where to stand, how to activate the tunnel and respond to the echoes bouncing back from both ends, which way to face… we gave two concerts with around 70 people each night listening to the living tunnel – a long horizontal “flute”, activated by my small bamboo flute and the violins of my wonderful colleagues Anja Tait and Emily Sheppard, and by the dragon breath of Dave Matthews’ recent field recording: Breathing Planet – the uncanny breath-like sound of air pushed up through tiny nostril-like tunnels in the bauxite coast of Arnhem Land as the ocean swell gushes into air-filled rocky caverns and retreats back into the Arafura Sea. Quite a scary sound when amplified by a large tunnel.

Then many early mornings followed, with Dave recording shakuhachi within the space before the noise of the outside world began. But my Darwin adventure has come to a close. Today I fly to Japan to give concerts and catch up with friends, and hopefully explore underground resonant tunnels where I can find them. If anyone can help me get underground in Japan, please do.

So you can see, this upside-down, inside-out, underground movie has so many elements that grab me. I want to see it again.

I am not an introvert or an extrovert… I am an invert.

*sakasama is the Japanese word for upside down. Sama, however, has another meaning. It is a title of respect placed after a person’s name. For example, I travel Australia performing in schools with Toshi Sakamoto (a taiko drummer) whom I always call Toshi sama, and he calls me Anne sama… so much more congenial and playful than Anne san or Toshi san – and much needed when you spend weeks, sometimes months in each other’s company on a tour. [Incidentally, the family name Sakamoto 坂本 means slope-base; at the base of the slope]. In the movie Sakasama no Patema, the people who live upside down in tunnels under the industrial school complex are referred to as Saka sama. A cute pun.
Thanks to AJANT (Australian Japanese Association of the Northern Territory) for showing the movie.

About anne norman

musician, shakuhachi player, author, poet, tea lover...
This entry was posted in anime, film review, my meanderings, odd and ends and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Inverts

  1. …. “invert” – yes, I too, feel often like I live in the world from an ‘upside-down’ perspective. All around me seem to be enthralled by the appearances of the phenomenal world and I seem to be alone in my ‘inverted’ view that the ‘unseen’ is the actual living reality, of which phenomena are but the shadow. Thanks for your delightful ‘report’ – and Good Luck on your Japan tour!

    Liked by 1 person

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