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Roujin Z
Roujin Z
Roujin Z (Special Edition)
Anime DVD Review

With a script penned by Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo and art direction by Satoshi Kon (Tokyo Godfathers), Roujin Z is a lost anime classic that deserves a wider audience. With it's highly relevant themes regarding the care of the elderly, government conspiracies and cover-ups, technology run amok, as well as it's lighthearted treatment, powerful female protagonist and the brisk pace set by director Hiroyuki Kitakubo (Blood: The Last Vampire), it's an absolute stunner of an anime film and well worth adding to your collection. And, it's funny as hell.

Roujin ZSet in near-future Japan, caring for the elderly has become a serious social issue. As a possible way of dealing (or rather trying to not deal) with the special needs of the elderly the Ministry of Public Welfare develops a special robotic bed that is a computerized nurse and can ostensibly take care of any bed-ridden person's needs, from "eliminating" to food to medical observation and virtual companionship. An elderly invalid, Mr. Takazawa, is selected to "beta-test" this new device.

Haruto, the young nurse of Mr. Takazawa, is not a fan of the plan, because she considers this an undignified way to spend your remaining time on Earth. However government powers prevail despite her protests and the plan is put into action. Meanwhile, the "bed", it turns out, has a military issue computer running the thing, and there-in lies the comedy plot-line. It's a learning computer, so it eventually manifests the personality of Mr. Takazawa's dead wife.

From there the sweet old "woman" wants to take her "schnuckems/honey-bunch/buttercup" to the beach where he'll be happy. This is a very funny premise, as the out-of-control technology isn't some evil, menacing beast like in other anime, instead it's a gentle, kind, loving, out-of-control machine rampaging across the countryside. Haruto must take the lead in trying to retrieve Mr. Takazawa from the clutches of his caretaker-bed, and in so doing, becomes one of the strongest female leads of any anime.

This is actually a much more realistic scenario than most anime, as the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Roujin Z manages to make us laugh, gasp, scream, and actually confront how we treat our elderly - all in this one film. The plot is delightfully complex, filled with layers of betrayal, but the action never stops, nor does the character interaction.

What makes Roujin Z a truly remarkable work is that underneath all the ridiculous comedy is a serious message about humanity and compassion. Roujin Z's message is clear, yet it never preaches nor allows the moral to get in the way of the fun of seeing Otomo's robotic nightmare on its comedic spree of apocalyptic destruction. Check it out — it's well worth your time.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, February 2007

Roujin Z

Roujin Z

Roujin Z

Roujin Z Website Links:

Roujin Z entry at Anime News Network

Roujin Z entry at Internet Movie Database

Roujin Z entry at Wikipedia

Roujin Z review at Anime Academy

Roujin Z review at Akemi's Anime World

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