This anime is one of those rare gems that you find occasionally, that once you start you know has the potential to be very good. Its even more fulfiling to find out by the end of one of these that your expectations have not only been met, but exceeded. With a unique premise and a definite direction this is by far one of the best stand-alone OVA's I've ever seen. Also I'd like to note that this feels much more like a movie than an OVA and rightfully so considering the running time of about 1h20m.
Story- So your probably wondering what could be so unique and interesting about this anime that sets it apart from the rest? Well this anime is about the elderly, specifically how to take care of the elderly once they start to lose the ability to take care of themselves. In addition its also about technology and how we have started to become over-dependant on it. There is also a theme that technology is "dangerous" and is not something we can always control. The theme of how technology is starting to cross the line into becoming a living thing is also addressed. (theres even a reference to Blade Runner) All of these themes flow perfectly together and are presented in a very light-hearted and at times comedic way. However they are still there and will provoke thinking once you find them. So whats the "actual" story about? Well theres a volunteer nurse and shes looking after an old man who gets selected to test an experimental bed designed to fulfill any needs that an elderly person might have from feeding him to cleaning his "mess". Well this machine is powered by a nuclear core and bio-comupeter... so you can see how things are going to go wrong.
Animation- Some of the best animation that I've ever seen. The backrounds are painstakingly detailed especially near the end. The colours stick out and catch your attention, despite not being as bright or vibrant as newer cell-shading. The char designs are very expressive, detailed and varied (the faces tend to be a little too long though) the mechanical aspect is probably the most impressive for this work, but I don't want to say too much and spoil this.
Sound- The weakest section of this anime, but still quite good and fitting. Notthing really sticks out to me, but all of the BGM and music is fits in well especially for the more comedic and light hearted moments.
Characters- Some are a little cheesy at first, but still very likable. The MC a volunteer nurse is a genuinly self-sacrificing and caring person and her friends although not as morally pure have their hearts in the right place. The antagonist is somewhat unexpected at first, but grows on you and even Mr.Tareda is quite amusing with his catch-phrase "Don't mess with the ministry of public health!". The stars of this show are definetly the elderly though. Mr. Takizawa and the other folks at the elderly home, show that just because your old doesn't mean your not significant.
Overall- A very refershing and rewarding OVA. Its nice to see new and unique themes presented in anime well...some the themes are not very unique, but still presented in a very entertaining and light-hearted way. Deffinitely give this a watch if you have the time or have enjoyed similar anime like "Stink Bomb" from Memories or "Order to stop construction" from Neo-Tokyo.
Roujin Z. The long forgotten anime of the 90’s that-with along the rest of Katsuhiro Otomo’s lesser works- has found its way to me. After watching this hilarious movie I can say wholeheartedly I enjoyed it. Even with it lacking the quality and depth of his other significantly better pieces I still had a good time. With the population of elderly skyrocketing and the number of people to take care of them lessening, the Ministry of Public Welfare takes up a new project to solve this humanitarian crisis. Coined the Z Project, this plan is supposed to help maintain the health of the elderly without using human labor by implementing the use of a high tech supercomputer called Z-001. This machine is something you would see in a sci-fi gag film; a machine that can bathe you, feed you, entertain you, and take care of your wellbeing. Student volunteer nurse Haruko is uneasy about the methods and morality in which this questionable machine operates, especially after seeing her elderly patient Mr. Takazawa become the subject of this experiment. Possessing a darkly saturated color scheme, that classic aesthetic 90’s anime art style, surprisingly smooth animation, and a comical twist on the mecha genre, Roujin Z is an incredibly fun watch. This is credited due to the fact that once the action starts rolling it never stops. Much like its predecessor Akira, Roujin Z is nonstop action for almost the whole film. I couldn’t say that there were many moments where I felt bored watching this anime because of how action packed it was. Not to mention how odd and chaotic it is. Everything from chasing robots, to the elderly hacking into them, and robots fighting each other went on. Once the commotion starts I'm sure you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen. I am a big sucker for robots and mecha so when seeing Roujin Z hold up the iconic Otomo bow in its genre, cough cough sci-fi, I was seriously pleased. This pretty packaged bow with the certified Otomo seal has never failed me to this day and the robot in Roujin Z is something you probably want to see. Using Takazawa like a mother holding its baby in a papoose, this robot did so many things that made me laugh. There were so many moments were I found myself chuckling at the silly things it did in order to protect Takazawa. Though the comedy in this anime isn’t super good, only being reduced to mostly slapstick and dramatic irony I did laugh quite a bit so I can’t say the humor is terrible. If you’re looking for something deep and avant garde like Akira since Otomo made this movie too then you’re barking at the wrong tree. This anime doesn’t have the thought provoking themes or originality Akira did but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. What it lacks in originality in theme, plot, and action it makes up for it by using the elderly as the source of saving. I have not seen one anime or even western movie have the topic about being compassionate to older people and helping them. It also doesn't just hone in on how helpless they are, it also shows that they are capable of doing stuff younger people can't do too. In all honesty this is a really fun movie to watch and plus it's kind of cute. The main theme being about how technology can’t replace human care and affection Roujin Z surprisingly makes a heartwarming statement about taking care of the elderly. Overall I had a great time watching this and I recommend it if you want to see more of Otomo’s other works.