What does a giant and destructive symphony, a mad scientist, two young girls at an amusement park, an egg, a post-apocalyptic warrior, an urban demon, a replica of a woman and two ramshackle automatons in Meiji-era Japan all have in common? Robots, of course.
summary by Ender
Highs: Splendid animation; spectacular imagination
Lows: Unimpressive music; some stories better than others
Robot Carnival has been called “The Fantasia of anime,” and with good reason, too. Every bit of this gem of a movie is filled with the same wonder and imagination of the classic Disney film with that special anime touch. Composed of nine shorts directed by some truly imaginative anime directors and supervised by Otomo “Steamboy” Katsuhiro, this anime has several great stories.
Otomo Katushiro and Fukushima Atsuko (Kiki’s Delivery Service) co-direct the fun and cataclysmic opening and closing segments that explain why this movie is called Robot Carnival. Omori Hidetoshi’s (Zeta Gundam, Dan Doh!!) Deprive is an ’80s action anime told in nine minutes, highlighted by cool fight scenes and bizarre design work. Morimoto Koji (Noiseman Sound Insect, Memories‘ Magnetic Rose) creates a dark and Gothic atmosphere with Franken’s Gears, but it lacks a story. Mao Lamdo’s Cloud is the only low point in this series, as it’s a collection of still images with one moving character that looks pleasing but lacks a narrative. Kitazume Hiroyuki’s (Sol Bianca) Starlight Angel is a flighty, adolescent love story that can bring a smile to the viewer, despite the cheesy music. Umetsu Yasuomi (Kite, Mezzo Forte) surprises with a thoughtful sci-fi, coming-of-age story with Presence, something he seemed incapable of doing. Nakamura Takashi (Fantastic Children) conducts a metallically-dark and mechanically-creepy little sequence called Chicken Man and Red Neck that sets the groundwork for his later pet project, A Tree of Palme. Finally, Kitakubo Hiroyuki (Roujin Z, Golden Boy) directs my favorite, A Tale of Two Robots, a hilarious send-up to the old mecha shows of the ’70s and samurai flicks of the ’60s.
The only real downside to this film is the music. Much of it sounds like stuff you’d hear from an old Nintendo game. This is a shame, seeing as how the score was composed by none other than Hisaishi Jo. To say that the man has done better would be an understatement. Seeing as how all but two of the segments do not use dialogue, the use of swanky visuals with corny music hampers the experience.
There will be some segments people will like and dislike, but as a whole the film is a gem. It’s a series of inviting worlds and striking visuals that any otaku should feel privileged to see, no matter how old or young. It is very much worth the price of admission.
Robot Carnival can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.