Japan’s population is aging considerably, and caring for the elderly will become harder and even more cost-defective. The government proposes a solution: Project Z, an electronic bed that can provide the patient with all essential and not-so-essential services a nurse can offer. Haruko is one of such caring nurses, and to her dismay her wrinkly patient Mr. Takazawa was chosen as a guinea pig for Project Z. Feeling her protégé is suffering from the lack of love a mechanical bed can’t provide, she sets herself on a quest to rescue him. Little does she know, her patient and its experimental machine can very well help themselves… and that’s merely the beginning…
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: Exceptionally unique storyline; steady pace; good blend of sci-fi, action and comedy
Lows: Passable animation; character development comprises of nothing but the basic essentials
Otomo Katsuhiro, who brought us Akira and Memories, is here with another pessimistic vision of our future. Don’t be fooled, though; you’re a long way from your typical day of reckoning. Roujin (which stands for elderly) Z has a bold and highly original plot that pairs science fiction with pure comedy, all the while being based on a moral quandary. They somewhat pull it off.
Roujin Z isn’t riding on a fine line between sci-fi and comedy. No, it flagrantly leaps from one to the other with hilarious facial expressions, rather successful crude jokes and zany technology. Character development is somewhat disappointing as the cast may manage to warm your heart with their silliness and good intentions, but you end up knowing very little about any of them.
Aside from Otomo, Roujin Z‘s crew includes now famous art directors Fumio Lida (Wings of Honneamise) and Kon Satoshi (Perfect Blue). Even with these big guns on board, the artwork fluctuates from respectable (during key close-ups and cityscapes) to substandard (almost every other time). The animation can be sloppy at times but robotic design is greatly detailed. Unfortunately, it comes a time in this anime when meticulous drawings become such an impracticable task that large amounts of machinery are represented by grayish smudges.
Whereas a few flaws have to be overlooked to really enjoy this anime, the premise that daring doesn’t need to imply complexity is refreshing. Whether you enjoyed Akira or not is irrelevant; this lighthearted and modest movie stands on its own and is bound to entertain you with action, comedy… or both.
Roujin Z can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.