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Roujin Z
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 06/06/2002

Synopsis:
The Japanese society has a problem. There are many sick, elderly, and disabled people but too few nurses to take care of them. To remedy the situation, the government introduces a revolutionary new contraption -- the Z-001. The Z-001 is a state-of-the-art computerized bed that can feed, bathe, diagnose, treat, and even entertain the patient. In short, it does everything and more... eliminating the need for human assistance. An elderly invalid named Mr. Takazawa is volunteered for the testing of the Z-001, much to the dismay of his student nurse Haruko. Haruko believes that no machine can replace the tender loving care that a human can give, and it looks like her fears are going to be confirmed when Mr. Takazawa sends her an SOS...
 
Review:
Although Roujin Z is from the same guy who directed the cult classic "Akira", it does not quite enjoy the popularity of the latter. I don't know why that is, because I happen to think Roujin Z is superior to "Akira" in many aspects.
 
Roujin Z begins with a typical day in the life of Mr. Takazawa. He is a bed-ridden old man, totally unable to do anything by himself. His wife had already died some time ago, and he has no one but the student nurse Haruko to take care of him. Haruko is more than happy to oblige however, for she loves what she does and she truly cares for her patient. But the government people soon take Mr. Takazawa away, saying that they had secured permission from his family to use him as a test subject for the Z-001. Haruko is distressed with this turn of events, and she determinedly does her best to find out if Mr. Takazawa is doing all right... which is where things start to go awry. The Z-001 is such an advanced machine that it immediately hooks up with Mr. Takazawa's brainwaves, carrying out his wishes in whatever way it can. Beyond human control and understanding, the Z-001 soon takes on the personality of Mr. Takazawa's deceased wife... much to everyone's utter shock and disbelief.
 
The plot is so refreshingly clever and imaginative that it's hard not to be impressed. Unlike the impossibly profound "Akira", Roujin Z is just straightforward storytelling with depth. There are no perplexing concepts and jargons to contend with, and yet certain moral and ethical issues inspire thought in the viewers. As Mr. Takazawa is carted away, the government people assure Haruko that his family had granted their permission. "But did you get HIS permission?" Haruko protests. It gets you thinking what's going to happen by the time we get old. Can a machine really care for a person better than a fellow human being? Given all this, it's amazing how the film still manages to end on a light and humorous note.
 
Visually speaking, Roujin Z is consistently first rate. Distinct character designs, finely detailed objects and backgrounds, and fluid animation make up the whole film. I can actually find no flaws in this title, not even minor nitpicks. It's an excellent choice for those who want a good balance of story and depth without the confusion.
 
Miscellanies:
The kanji for Roujin Z's Japanese title roughly translates to "Old Person Z".

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Roujin Z
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Review Title:
Roujin Z
Alternative Titles:
Elderly Person Z, Old Person Z
Type:
OVA
Episodes:
1
Duration:
80 Minutes
General Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Aired:
1991
Suitable For:
Teens
Genres:
Comedy, Drama, Mecha,
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