Aug 2, 2015
AttackOnWaifu (All reviews)
Sakasama no Patema is the closest I've seen to a modern film capturing Hayao Miyazaki's earlier work from a narrative perspective. The film felt very reminiscent of Castle in the Sky. Miyazaki films tend to sometimes have deep plot in concept, but not in execution, and so the magic in his films -- are the characters, the world, and the themes that are often deep and mature. Miyazaki's films burst with charm, and their simplistic scripts always have an underlying themes that tap into certain elements of life. Miyazakis ability to create complex and interesting worlds/story concepts, and yet keep the actual plot itself simple, is one of the reason his films work so well. Anyone can watch his movies, and yet there is something deeper there if you really want to look into it.

So unlike Miyazaki scripts, Sakasama no Patema get a bit more heavy on the actual plot itself. The plot set up is complex and mysterious from the very beginning, and unlike Castle in The Sky (that doesn't dive too deep into the actual complex plotline in the back half), Sakasama no Patema embraces it head on. But this also becomes the films downfall. In the end, the plot gets a bit too tangled up in its own details. The pacing/and execution with the information given to the audience feels clunky. This ultimately leaves the audience disconnected from the plot on an emotional level, while they try to figure out all the details of what actually happened.

There is nothing wrong with complex plots. But there is an art form in how you weave information and plot movements into a coherent whole -- in a way that audiences can digest and connect to. In fact, I wouldn't even say Sakasama no Patema has a terribly complex plot that couldn't be understood. But the method with which they decided to tell this story, makes it more complex than it needs to be. The biggest problem being that, they wait until the last twenty minutes to explain the "twist" of the movie, and never give the audience a second to catch their breath. It becomes a wave of information, and plot immediately rushes to the end. Then the come down (the resolution), is so brief, the audience never gets to catch their breath, and you are left trying to process everything you've just been told. The plot on paper is actually very easy to understand. But the way it's told in this film, you will be wracking your brain trying to understand the exact details. This becomes problematic, because it ends up distracting you from any emotional connection you should have to the plot/characters.

The second biggest flaw of Sakasama no Patema is the characters. They are likable. But they are missing charm. The film sets up each character on their own, and we get an idea of how each character works, as well as how they represent the problems of each "side" of their world. The issue is when they finally come together. The film doesn't really give us enough time to connect emotionally to their relationship. The film does a better job with this with "older characters" done in flashbacks then they do with the actual main characters in the plot. I wish the film would have taken a bit more time to flesh out their relationship, and show how their problems are connected.

Sakasama no Patema is a good film. The animation is stunning, the music is great. The actual story concept itself, is interesting and unique (or at least, a unique take on common story concepts). But the film always keeps the audience at a distance. The characters lack warmth, and it's hard to entirely connect emotionally to their story. And the story trips over itself in the back half, as it tries to explain everything in the final push towards the end. I just wish I wasn't distracted by all of these elements, as I would have liked to have cared more about our characters and their worlds.