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Quite surprised no one on Mikomi's had a chance to look into this fun little gem. A somewhat serious, yet funny look into Japan's ignorance of its elderly population, Roujin Z explores an elderly man being dumped upon a machine to take care of all his needs at the cost of the man's personal dignity and independence. The feelings of ignorance towards the elderly are shown through Haruko and her group of friends seen at points throughout the film. While her friends and many among the public see the new Z-001 unit as a new convenience that frees up time and stress from caring for the elderly, Haruko sees it as taking away the personal interactions that the elderly can get from others caring for them. Takazawa and the Z-001 fleeing from their "caretakers" for the beach could also be seen symbolically as the elder man regaining the dignity and independence that was taken away from him.|
The comedy for Roujin Z comes from the antics of the Z-001 unit and a group of elderly hackers that allow the computer system of the unit to come to life. The fact that a group of elderly men in a nursing home became computer hackers was quite a hoot for me as it added to the title's satire with technology serving as a sort of distraction for the elderly to prevent the nurses caring for them to have too much interaction with them. The Z-001's trip throughout town was the comedic highlight for me thanks to the ridiculous havoc it tore throughout the city and taking in different types of electronic and mechanical equipment into itself to make itself into a monstrosity of electric wires and mechanical parts.
Such havoc also made for the animated highlight for me with Roujin Z as the monstrosity that the Z-001 became was nicely detailed and drawn with plenty of animated movement shown with it in most instances as it traveled through town and takes on a combat version of itself in a nicely animated fight in the second half of the movie. Scenery and character designs shown in the movie were also decently drawn with faded color tones. While the visuals are nowhere on par with the quality of Katsuhiro Otomo's well-known work Akira, it is still quite above par in quality compared to most anime titles made during the early 90s.
While I do have plenty of praise for Roujin Z, it does have some flaws. The means in which the elderly hackers get the Z-001's computer to come to life is quite absurd in terms of believability, creating a bit of a logical lapse. Plus for as much fun as the movie's premise is, Takazawa's character still mostly serves as a tool for both its satire on the movie's themes and the havoc caused by the Z-001 as he's otherwise a pretty dull character with limited dialogue and not doing very much else without being guided around by the movie's characters and the Z-001.
I guess I can consider it a first that I find myself genuinely enjoying a Katsuhiro Otomo film with how Roujin Z was laid out. With its nice mix of serious and funny moments coming from its exploration on ignorance of the elderly and the Z-001's destructive trip throughout the city, this is a "hidden gem" of an old school anime film that is well worth checking out.
Last updated Monday, October 29 2012. Created Monday, October 29 2012.