After a businessman encounters a woman on a train platform, and later discovers her across the street from his office building, he tries to get her attention by throwing paper airplanes through her window. The wind continually thwarts his efforts, until it seems hope is lost and the wind uses the paper planes to bring the two together.
“It goes back to when I was living in New York City, in the early 90s. I was working at Blue Sky Studios as an animator. I was commuting through Grand Central Station, expecting that my life, for some reason, should be better than it was,” said director Kahrs in an interview with Animation World Network. “It had something to do with the random connections you sometimes make with people. Complete strangers. Most people have their guard up. But every once in a while you’ll make eye contact, then you’ll lose it, and you often wonder who those people were. Paperman’s story centers around a guy who makes a connection with this girl on his long commute. Then, he loses her. The story really is about what happens when he tries to get her back and make that connection again. How would the fates reward someone who tries really hard to make that happen?”
The pantomime story has been well received by audiences and critics. “Paperman” has a 100 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with reviews like “Paperman ... is perfection itself,” from Leonard Maltin of Leonard Maltin's Picks, and Mike Scott of Times-Picayune saying “Paperman” is “Among the most beautiful shorts to come out of Disney in recent memory.”
The whimsical story touches on something that is relatable to anyone: the desire to be loved. The setting of a city and the occupation of the protagonist as a desk worker create the perfect everyman type of character, and the woman is his inspiration to do more with life, take risks, and find love.