As if there weren’t already enough reasons to look forward to Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, here comes one more. We’ve already told you about Paperman, the hand-drawn/CG hybrid animated short that’ll be premiering in front of that feature, and the insane amount of great buzz it’s already received. (Well — a lot of that early talk was from Pixar employees, but still.) Today we’ve got the first look at actual images from the short, and like the early concept art, they’re striking in their retro simplicity. Check them out after the jump.

Paperman centers around a lonely young man who falls for a beautiful woman he encounters on his morning commute. Circumstances intervene before he’s able to talk to her, but he gets a second chance at love when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the street from his own office. In modern times, Craigslist Missed Connections would seem like the obvious answer — but this takes place in mid-century Manhattan, so he uses a stack of papers to make a grand romantic gesture. snapped up the first images, which you can see below.

Ironically, what makes Paperman look so fresh is its celebration of old-school style. Director John Kahrs spoke with the magazine about using modern tech to make the film look polished — but not too polished. The idea was to “celebrate the line,” he said, and sometimes that meant sending the art back if it looked too CG-perfect.

“As exciting a time that we live in right now, with so many CG features being done, that kind of stylized photo-realism can’t be the only way that animation can look,” he said. “I think for 2-D to be revitalized, you have to figure out a way to make it new again.”

Judging by the early reviews, it sounds like he succeeds in that endeavor with flying colors. After a Pixar Studios screening, several employees raved that it was “inspiring” and “incredible.” If Paperman turns out to be half as impressive as it sounds, it’s going to be an awfully tough act to follow for poor Wreck-It Ralph.

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