Rōjin Z

Tagged: Film

Animated film (1991 Japan; vt Roujin Z, 1994 UK). Movic, Sony Music Entertainment, The Television, Tokyo Theatres, TV Asahi. Directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo. Written by Katsuhiro Ōtomo. Cast includes Shinsuke Chikaishi, Hikojirō Matsumura, Shinji Ogawa and Chisa Yokoyama. 80 minutes. Colour.

Amid the high expectations engendered by the success of Akira (1988), Katsuhiro Ōtomo restricted himself to scripting duties on his next anime: a superior story but a significantly lower budget. Ōtomo delivers a Satire of government boondoggles and heartless yuppies, in the first Anime to tackle the issue of the "greying population" of Japan. During a demographic crisis that threatens to overload healthcare and the economy with invalid pensioners, the care of the disabled Mr Takizawa (Matsumura) is handed over to the titular Robot bed, which proves to be a repurposed military prototype with dangerous legacy code.

Inevitably, the denouement reframes the Takizawa-Rōjin Z combination as a runaway Mecha, as the confused widower sets off to spend a day at the seaside. In a nod to the impending relevance of such Near Future issues to the average anime fan, the supporting cast includes an entire hospital ward of geriatric computer hackers. The film is also an early animation credit for Satoshi Kon as a set designer, ensuring that the squalid backgrounds were strewn with appropriate detritus. [JonC]

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