Earning the nickname of "the Fantasia of anime" among some older anime fans, Robot Carnival is a film anthology whose shorts run into a common theme of interactions between robots and humans. Sometimes funny and sometimes dramatic, many of the shorts in this anthology have an impressive presentation for a 1987 anime featuring detailed designs of characters and scenery, as well as having fluid moments coming from a variety of differing sequences such as flight, battles and amusement park rides. Here are my thoughts of each of the shorts to be found in this anthology.
Opening- A fun opening for the anthology featuring a village literally getting plowed down and destroyed in ridiculous fashion from a malfunctioning traveling showcase which is literally formed in a giant title logo.
Franken's Gate- Tells a simple story of a mad scientist trying to bring his robotic creation to life. Makes use of dark colors and haunting music to enhance the suspense of the scientist's struggles to bring life to the robot despite bad weather and many of his attempts to activate his creature malfunctioning.
Deprive- Felt more like a long promo pitch for an upcoming action anime considering this short's habit to jump around between events as the robotic hero rescues the young lady from the alien baddie. The action sequences for the short were well done, but the jumpy narrative made this one of the weaker shorts for me in this movie.
Presence- Perhaps the best short in this anthology for me thanks to its simple yet well laid-out characterization of a husband creating a robotic companion to ease his loneliness from family neglect until he realizes the robot has become more sentient than he wants it too. This is one of only two shorts in the movie which feature voice acting.
Starlight Angel- One of the more creative titles of Robot Carnival in terms of its choices in animation which features a teenage girl escaping into a dream world after discovering her love interest is dating her friend. The dream sequence makes for this short's animated highlight featuring the girl and various robots she dreams up flying with her around the amusement park they are in, followed by a clash with a giant robot.
Cloud- Wasn't really sure what to make of this short. It features a robot walking by as cloud formations in the form of humans and some destructive activity takes place. It is the least visually impressive of the shorts in this anthology and perhaps the weakest of the shorts that I seen.
A Tale of Two Robots Chapter 3: Foreign Invasion- A fun parody of old-school samurai action films and "super robot" anime featuring a foreign mad scientist and a group of Japanese locals having their own versions of giant mecha as they try taking one another out and get too clueless to know of the large amount of collateral damage they are creating from their battle. The second short in this movie to feature voice acting.
Nightmare- Perhaps the most suspenseful short of Robot Carnival, Nightmare features a nighttime robotic takeover of Tokyo where one of the locals is a lone human witness to the dark and twisted formations of the various robots that come to life from the giant robot formed in the middle of the city. A thrilling homage to Disney's "Night on Bald Mountain" segment in Fantasia and their adaptation of Legend of Sleepy Hollow as the lone human in Tokyo finds himself chased around the city by a flying robot and finds himself scared witless of the various robots that he sees.
Ending- A followup to the Opening short where we see the final moments of the Robot Carnival traveling showcase offering both drama and comedy as the credits to the movie roll. Watch beyond the credits for a final moment of comedy that a human family deals with when one of them snatches up a piece of the Carnival to take home to them.
Overall, I would strongly recommend that you see Robot Carnival at least once to have a peek at some of the best animation you can see from the 1980s and perhaps getting some enjoyment from the various shorts that make up this solid anthology film centered on robots.
Last updated Thursday, December 01 2011. Created Thursday, December 01 2011.