"Robot Carnival" is a collection of shorts, first released in 1987. The anthology consists of seven individual shorts and one opening and ending animation. None of the shorts had anything to do with any of the other shorts. Its tagline, “Nine animators, one vision”, might be better put as, “Nine animators, eight visions.”
Sometime in the future, in an undefined era stylistically similar to the mid-20th Century, there exists a very sad toymaker. Though by all appearances he seems to be a caring, loving, normal man, with a successful career woman for a wife and a beautiful daughter, he really just goes through the motions of life with no connection to the world. He exists without empathy, as a mere shell of a person. Disassociated from family and society, he has his own very secret project. He’s building himself a toy. His own hidden, special doll. A creation made by and for himself that moves and acts by his own will. However, when he activates his human effigy, the girl displays a will of her own. She expresses her own wants and desires for a name and a reason to live, as well as a longing to love and be loved-- pointing out the emptiness within her own creator. Scared by his lack of complete control, the toymaker destroys his work. Learning nothing, the wretch does nothing to reconnect or empathize with the real human members of his family. He returns to live the life he has chosen, until his death, when the pathetic soul realizes his regret and affinity, not for the real people still around him, but for his artificial creation, which reappears to take him away as his own self created angel.
Sad, wistful, and creepy, directed by Yasuomi Umetsu (Original Creator of “Kite” and “MezzO Forte”, and Character Designer on “MegaZone 23: Part 2” and the 1990s OVA adaptations of “Casshan”, “Hurricane Polymar”, and “Gatchaman”), “Presence” gets under your skin and makes you feel uncomfortable. The short is done from the toymaker’s point of view, making you, the viewer, a self-made, outcast miscreant. Yet, the film apologizes for, and doesn’t hold him accountable for any of his actions, because in the film these are shown as the actions of a normal everyday person.