r#136 – roujin z

Today’s anime recommendation is Roujin Z, it’s another old movie but with a bizarre premise that you’d never find in any other anime movies. Are you ready to hear it? Okay so listen to this: Roujin Z is actually Akira, but with old man and hospital bed! What?! Well, yes that I was trying to capture your intention, but that’s also literally the summary I came up with for the whole story of Roujin Z.

So I’m here today to talk about the said funny movie, write a little impression and review. It’s actually a pretty big movie in the year when it was released, been the third highest rated movie and the fifth most popular movie of 1991. And with me mentioning Akira earlier, you’re not wrong to expect some pretty big and well-developed moments throughout the movie. Now obviously, it’s not going to be as good as Akira, because there’s a reason why Akira is super popular and Roujin Z is not. But there are actually a few things that probably would capture your interest, so let’s talk about it.

spoiler alert!

synopsis – the old man z.

Set sometime in the early 21st century, Roujin Z depicted a near-future Japan struggling with a rapidly growing elderly population. Seeking an effort to cut the costs associated with looking after the elderly, the scientists are working with the Ministry of Public Welfare, and together have developed a high-tech nuclear-powered and computerized hospital bed — an automated system named Z-001. It is capable to do almost everything that a nurse and even a doctor can do: from dispensing food, medicine, to even bathe and have a conversation with the occupant.

An elder named Kijuro Takazawa who is normally be cared for by young nursing student Haruko, has been chosen to be the first test patient of Z-001. However, shortly after being installed in the bed, the Z-001 mysteriously begins relaying Takazawa’s calling for help to Haruko’s personal computer, indicating extreme distress of the old man being mistreated by the Ministry of Public Welfare. Receiving the SOS, Haruko and her nurse friends have no choice but to try and help the old man escape.

But having powered by nuclear energy and computed by a sixth-generation computer, this ‘smartbed’ is just an overpowered beast. So after a couple of failed rescue attempts by Haruko and friends, the bed decides to take matters into its own hands and do its best to free the old man. One of the efforts made is the introduction of the deceased Wife of the old man, letting the smartbed learnt how to talk with her voice, and to the point where it’s able to mimic her personality and gain access to her past memories when she was still alive.

script.

Roujin Z is a movie full of comedy, and you know, it feels like it’s been forever since the last time I watched an anime that’s just pure comedy from the beginning to the end. Dare I say now, that even a person with my weird taste needs to watch a good comedy anime/movie from time to time. But Roujin Z isn’t a movie only created for the sake of comedy, because the movie is also invested heavily in its action and drama as well!

The comedy is definitely one of the strong points of the movie, but the amazing writing has created a pretty fair balance between all the elements of the story. The writing is actually quite smart, and I’m pretty sure you’ll recognize a bit of atmosphere of Akira right after you spend jump into the movie. If you want to know why’s that, well, it’s because the director and original creator of Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo, is actually the one who wrote the script of Roujin Z!

You read that right. You’re absolutely not wrong to expect the element of sci-fi from this movie, together with some strong action and mecha scenes, with also its drama and explosions. It’s kind of like; I don’t know, some funny and gimmicky business from Otomo-sensei to create this story of which taking the concept of old people and a mecha that’s based on hospital bed … but somehow it works, and it works very well. I enjoyed watching it.

Of course, nothing has to be taken seriously when you watch a movie with this amount of comedy, but I was also serious when I said the writing was smart, and the directing was so good that it managed to distract me from questioning why’s this and that, how’s this and how’s that. I can definitely nitpick some characters and scenarios that didn’t work in the story, but I decided to let them slide easier this time.

I also kinda realize why I didn’t hear about this movie as much, which in my opinion, is because the weirdness likelihood is kinda skyrocketed once you read the synopsis, yet for us who’re still dare to watch the damn movie anyway, we find it not as impactful as we wanted it to be after we watch the movie. I imagine the PR of Roujin Z always had a hard time to advertise this movie, especially around the time it was released the first time.

cast.

Mr Takazawa aka. the old man, is actually not the forefront of the movie’s narrative even though he’s pretty much the centre point of everything happens in the story. But we follow a caring young nursing student named Haruko, and her unfriendly interplay with the Secretary of Public Welfare named Takashi Terada — the two are pretty much the ones who control the pacing of the movie’s narrative.

Though as you can imagine, the whole movie is basically a back and forth chasing scenes, their dance throughout the movie is pretty interesting to watch. Mr Terada and Haruko added the whole side elements that colour the movie even more; from the basic nursing practices to some military conflicts, and even some funny hacking scenes done by the elders in Haruko’s hospital.

They’re fun to watch, and there are few support characters who are given enough personalities as well, and I’m glad they are a part of the story. Maybe the most unsettled character in this movie is the antagonist, who doesn’t have a clear intention; his objective of ruining this old man’s life. But as I said, you shouldn’t have to take everything seriously. The bad guy is just the bad guy in this kind of movie, and I’m fine with that.

visual and arts.

Okay, while I’ve name-dropped Akira to boost your expectation from the this movie’s writing department, I’m gonna name-drop another huge name, but this time it’s for the movie’s aesthetic department. Okay so, the art director and key animation of Roujin Z, is actually Satoshi Kon! Whaaa?!

For you who didn’t know, Satoshi Kon is another great anime director from the past; he was the mind behind the making of great movies such as Paprika, Perfect Blue, and Tokyo Godfathers. And in this movie, he was to be responsible for the movie’s planning, aesthetic layout such as set designs, and all the things for its visual and animation.

And it has become, in my opinion, the strongest point of Roujin Z, especially if you get the hold of its Blu-ray or at least its DVD. Don’t get this wrong tho, you’re definitely still can enjoy the movie, and it’s even available on YouTube for free to watch thanks to a bunch of kids’ uploads. But I feel like you’ll only able to enjoy the details when you watch it properly, such as the pastel sensation for the most of calming scenes, but then also some bold and rough lines in some other scenes.

The audio is, however, one thing that has failed me the most. It’s actually the only thing that will remind you that you’re watching a movie from the 90s. Especially when it comes to action scenes, suddenly all the FX audio become so low and unbalanced. It’s pretty disappointing for me, and it’s like some kind of flag that Roujin Z won’t age as much as other anime movies.

closing – nesha’s final verdict.

Now, I know that the first sentence you’ll hear when you watch the movie is the old man saying, “Haruko, I wet my bed. I feel awful, Haruko,” also now that you know Satoshi Kon and Katsuhiro Kotomo are the ones who made the movie … you really shouldn’t expect this to be similar with their other movies that they directed it their own. Roujin Z is still a PG-13 movie, it’s full of comedy just like I said before, you won’t find any nudity that you’d find in Akira, and you won’t find any violence and profanity that you’d find in Perfect Blue, or even any brainstorming activities that you’d find in Paprika.

In general, Roujin Z is a really good movie to watch; it was fun and even though there’s one boring part about the first half of the movie, I can see myself watching the movie again some other time. I won’t gonna lie, the movie just hooked me. It’s fun, I dunno what I can say no more.

Now I know that the comedy here is a little different from the current generation of comedy like; we’ve just got Inuyashiki, and they don’t even get to add a little humour to their show. I bet Roujin Z has a higher value for its production than Inuyashiki tho. But yeah, it’s a bit weird. Anyway, watching this movie is not a must, but if you’re looking for good gems from the past, I really, really recommend you to watch Roujin Z.

scored 7 out of 10

additional pieces of information.

external links: official site (Sony Music), Wiki (jp), Allcinema, ANN, and MAL

So I’m thinking to write about more movies made by Satoshi Kon, considering that my review of Paprika is actually the post that has the most comments from you guys. And I really like the guy a lot, though I don’t like how he died so soon before he is able to create enough movies for me to watch. But he still had enough time to make a few titles, and I’m ready to take a look at some other stuff he’d offer.

That being said, simply be sure to follow #moe404 if you’re interested with what I do. I haven’t reviewed any TV series recently, but I’m kinda enjoying my current pace by reviewing these good movies, at least for now I’ll keep doing just that. Also, if you want to support my work, please be sure to support us on Patreon, thank you.

And thank you very much for reading too. Please check out my review of Akira, or Paprika, or Perfect Blue, or Tokyo Godfathers, or any other TV shows and movies I reviewed in the past. Keep watching anime as always, and if you may excuse me … now I’m going to sleep. Baii~

© written by nesha5971
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2 responses to “r#136 – roujin z

  1. I remember watching Roujin Z a while ago. That was a fun movie. It’s weird how it’s a near future science fiction film, but there was one prophetic part of it. Japan’s birth rate has suffered and there’s a rapidly aging population right now in that country, so it makes the dark comedy harsher in hindsight. Good job on the review. Also, speaking of Akira, thanks for checking out my latest poems including the Fighting Doppelgängers one where it shows how much K9999 from the King of Fighters series ripped off Tetsuo Shima like how Scar ripped off Claw from Kimba the White Lion.

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