After the Cockpit and 9 Love Stories, the obvious next step would be Robot Carnival: another collection of nine stories. Twenty years ago, some of the great names in anime came together, and were all assigned to create a short movie that has to do with robots. Basically, Robot Carnival is the Fantasia of anime, with only two movies that contain dialogue and a soundtrack that has been composed by Hisaishi Joe of Ghibli-fame. This movie shines in its diversity: every short is different from the other. Individually, the shorts may disappoint at times, but together they form quite an enjoyable ride.
Koji Morimoto (Magnetic Rose (Memories), Noiseman Sound Insect, Beyond (The Animatrix)) is up first, and he comes up with a strange, yet very entertaining short, though with the lack of any sort of plot with the short Franken’s Gears. Hidetoshi Omori (Dan Doh? O_o) is up next with Deprive, which is more like a standard action-movie, condensed into nine minutes. Yasuomi Umetsu (Kite, Mezzo Forte) then comes with one of the first highlights of the movie with his Prescence, a quiet thought-provoking romance.
Star Light Angel, well the title says it all. It’s a cheesy shoujo-love-story by Hiroyuki Kitazume (Moldiver), yet it somehow still works. Cloud, by Mao Lamdo will probably be the hardest short to like, as it’s basically nothing else than an animated piece of art, without any clear plot nor purpose. To make up for this, the next short, A Tale of Two Robots – Chapter 3: Foreign Invasion by Hiroyuki Kitakubo (Golden Boy, Roujin Z (note to self: check those out)) will have you rolling on the floor laughing with its parodies of ancient mecha- and samurai-shows. To close off, Takashi Naamura (Fantastic Children, A Tree of Palme) comes with a short that combines quirky characters with a lot of imagination. You wouldn’t suspect that Fantastic Children came from the same creator.
While most of the shorts fall short in the story-department, I like how a lot of them weren’t just created to tell a story, but also to pay homage to the different genres of anime at that time. Giant Robots, shoujo-dramas, action-flicks, thought-provoking dramas, samurais. All of them are either parodied or remembered. Hisaishi Joe manages to capture the feeling of every said show perfectly as well, making sure for a terrific, yet cheesy soundtrack. Overall, this is a very good way to watch at the end of the year, as the level of nostalgia is quite high.