Review of Robot Carnival (1987)

Moving picture, 90 minutes

The only common element is robots.

Feature-length anthology of 9 short films (two connected), most of which have no dialogue. Progressive animation.

The music is the best part of this very uneven collection. The good segments are Opening (“Coming Soon”), Closing (“See You Again”, both by Ōtomo Katsuhiro), the Meiji mecha battle, and the arty and lyrical “Cloud”, which resembles “Rain” (1929). The rest hover somewhere around the mark of pointlessness, but there’s an underlying appeal stemming from the very contemporary ludicrousness of making robots mean anything and everything. Some interesting techniques are applied, including single-shaded rotoscoping.

The shot of the carnival lumbering away to continue its mad journey recalls that of the similarly detailed and towering aircraft carrier in “Momotaro’s Sea Eagles” (1943), which also mixed innocent spectacle with horrible destructive force.

References here: “Genius Party” (2007).

moving picture animation Japanese production mecha fiction