Roujin Z

Roujin Z is a 1991 movie that I came across while searching for a new movie to watch and I decided to pick it up because I liked the cover image.


Doesn’t it look promising?

The movie is about the Japan’s Ministry of Public Welfare testing a new bed that can take care of the elderly and the consequences of using such a machine. For their first test they selected an old man named Takazawa who is bedridden and needs someone to take care of him 24/7.

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And here is the amazing bed that can take care of old people

The bed can take care of all the needs of its occupant like bathing and feeding. It regularly monitors his health and sends an alert to the doctors and the family members if something happens to him. It also has built-in stereo, radio, phone and TV modules. The occupant can call the occupants of other beds and talk to them, or he can create a virtual friend. The movie talks about the moral implications of treating the elderly this way.

After Takazawa is made to become a guinea pig for the testing of the bed he becomes lonely and scared. He sends a message to Haruko, his voluntary caretaker, to help him. At this point it looked like Haruko is the only one who cared about him and is willing to help him. Takazawa’s family members happily gave the rights to conduct any experiments on him to the Ministry of Public Welfare.

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We have seen enough anime to guess what happens next. The bed has an advanced computer that has a mind of its own and things start going out of control. The plot is something we have already seen plenty of times and it never manages to surprise the viewers but the movie is entertaining nonetheless. The animation is beautiful and the voice acting is also well done.

There are a couple of things I want to complain about though. When a guy called Terada from the Ministry of Public Welfare was introducing the bed to the media, he said that the bed can even upgrade its own hardware and I was thinking ‘Yeah sure. It will order the new parts online, sign the delivery man’s papers, unscrew itself and replace the old parts with the new parts. You should have found something else to say in order to make the bed look smart.’ To my surprise the bed did actually upgrade its hardware.

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Though I have no idea what it intended to do with that speed limit sign

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It kept getting worse

I doubt they wanted the bed to be that creative about upgrading itself because even the bed’s creator was surprised.

Here is another part that is even worse. At one point Haruko asks a group of old hackers to hack into the bed’s operating system and control it. She hands a photo of Takazawa’s wife to them and asks them to simulate her voice to try and talk to Takazawa.

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Seriously? All you need to simulate a person’s voice is her photograph?

I also want to mention that the idea of the bed is not as bad as the movie made it sound. They purposely exaggerated certain functions of the bed to make it look like an inhumane machine. If you have ever taken care of a bedridden old person or saw someone else take care of such a person, you know how difficult it is to take care of people who can’t move a muscle. Imagine doing that 24/7 for a decade. Even the most loving family members will wish for a break and the relationships will start deteriorating. Not every family can hire a good caretaker like Haruko. It is not such a bad idea to have a machine that helps us take care of the old as long as we spend enough time with them and give them plenty of love.

Give Roujin Z a try if you have some time on your hands. It is a good movie and it deserves more love from anime viewers.

See you next time ^^/


15 thoughts on “Roujin Z

  1. Watched the movie, thanks for prompting me to ^^/ It looks really nice. The animation there has that randomness that you can find in some hand drawn cartoons; especially the dynamic scenes, you can’r really predict what exactly you’ll see in the next frame, I like it :3

    I agree with what you said, the movie does allude to a problem of neglecting older people. I think it is not so much about a particular mechanism, it is about an inhumanization (a made-up word here) of the process of taking care. A hospital or even a caretaker can act just as indifferent and mechanical as a robot. In the end it is always up to particular people to put in some conscious effort to make the live of particular old person better. Kinda how Haruko did it.

    I like that you mentioned that the robotic bed itself is not such a bad idea =) That bed could have been installed right at Takazawa’s house too, without all the stupid electrodes and such. Would be a big help to Haruko. I think the movie is sort of trying to say the same thing as Akira, that we need to be ‘ready’ for the technology. That line the computer computer version of Haru Takazawa says, ‘it (the machine) is too smart’, that is pretty much the movie giving us the message in plain words, no need to even guess >.> I don’t agree with that view on technology, that doesn’t make me like the movie less though =)

    The ending was pretty funny, when the dead computer is reborn as a giant Buddha :D

    Oh and I wish we had more anime where characters are college students o(>.<)o

    • This movie has been in ‘Sindar’s to watch’ list for a long time :P Since it is an old show I didn’t even have to ask you to watch it. All I have to do is write a post about it and you’ll watch it :3 I liked the animation too. You might like Boku no Chikyuu o Mamotte too. The anime style is similar.

      I can’t help but wonder if a normal person would have went as far as Haruko to protect Takazawa. She risked being arrested and she also put her career in jeopardy. I think normal people would have backed off.

      I felt a bit bad about how awfully they portrayed the idea of a bed. Like when the bed made Takazawa ‘swim’. It didn’t have to be that way. It could have gently lifted him up and made him do the exercises. But nope. It has to treat him like a toy. I liked the movie too even if I don’t agree with their view on technology. I wonder why a robot maid is a good thing while a robot caretaker is a bad thing.

      You could also say that the cat is actually the reincarnation of Haru and is trying to protect Takazawa by moving robots and Budda statues XD

      Why college students? o.O I prefer watching anime with adults who are actually working.

      • I’ve had my eyes on it for a while too :P So many talented people did something for that film, it’s hard to miss it. So do you wanna write about Boku no Chikyuu o Mamotte to? >:3

        I am sure most people would have given up at some point, or continued fighting in a less intensive way. One can try to write letters to officials, do other things that are safer but not really effective =) The thing about Haruko is that she didn’t help Takazawa because her consciousness told her to, rather she just honestly wanted to do help him. It isn’t too realistic, but well, the film is half comedy anyways =)

        I think there are are anime where robot maids are shown to be evil :D There are anime like Bubblegum crisis that are all about robots going crazy, I’m sure there were maid robots in there somewhere. You know, right now robots for automatic exercises are a hot topic in robotics. All sorts of other rehabilitation and assistive robots are being developed, I bet there is a variety of robotic beds in use already. Though I doubt they have as many functions as what we saw in the movie ^^’
        By the way, I liked how you protested against reconstructing the voice from a photo :D Though I think the actuated electric cables that can go though metal and concrete are even less realistic -_- And those are in every other sci-fi action film from the 80s >.>

        That would be funny xD

        Yeah it is good too, I am always fine with anime about adults =) But the thing about college is that we just don’t have anime about it. We get 10 or 15 series about high school every season, and some of them would definitely be better off being set in a uni. And college life is so diverse, there are so many interesting real things you can mix up in your story. Not to mention I just want to see what an anime version of Japanese colleges would be like ^^

        • No :O I was only nagging you to watch the show. I didn’t have any intention of writing a review about it ._. It is a good show though. Maybe you should watch the show and write a review :3

          Actuated electric cables that can go though metal and concrete? Where are they? :O I don’t think I saw any movies with then or maybe I didn’t notice them, probably because I have a tendency to not pay attention to the hardware parts -.-”
          Actually I was going to nitpick on the movie a but more but decided not to. Take a look at this image. This was the code the hacked guy was typing to break into the bed’s OS. You will see that the first line is a comment. Why add a when you are trying to break into the system. And the Jan might refer to January. Take a look at the rest of the code. It probably has nothing to do with the bed. I bet they just found it somewhere and decided to use it because it looked cool. But then again, it probably isn’t as riduculous as someone hacking the Gears of War using HTML tables and decided to drop it. Movies and TV shows get their code wrong plenty of times.

          I would like to know what Japanese colleges are like too.

          • :D I’ve already got that anime, I’ll probably watch it soon =)

            Besides Roujin Z I remember seeing those things in Megazone 23 and Cyber City Oedo 808. It kinda bugs me that I can’t remember more examples O.o

            That code looks like some sort of normal C program =) I guess it is obvious that it is not something related to hacking another computer. But to be honest, I have no idea what kind of output you’ll see on a PC screen when you hack something. I imagine people use software to do this kind of thing, so the output will probably be whatever the software will print out for you… I think, it’s not like I know anything about hacking ^^’

            Do you watch CSI: NY, or did you just stabled upon this story? =) I never even heard of CSI: NY before :D I dunno if you want to waste time on this, but here is a fun video of a guy kinda “hacking” Nintendo, rewriting the game code while playing the game. Just listening to the guy talking about continuous memory and assembly code while playing Mario is amusing, gives you an idea of what someone with a CS degree and lots of free time would get into :D
            You might remember him, I think I’ve send you his neural network video before =)

            • Okay =) By the way, do remember not to expect too much from the anime. It has good animation and an okay plot :P

              O.O I’ll watch Cyber City Odeo. It has been sitting on my hard disk for ever.

              I remember this move where a guy writes some code and an other guy takes one look at it and says ‘Wow. It is so awesome. How did you come up with this?’ and I was like ‘What did you actually see -_- You need at least a few moments to understand the code’ -_-

              I haven’t watched CSI:NY. I never even heard of it before. I just saw someone complaining about it on Quora.
              That guy is awesome *-* Super Mario flying looks amusing XD Maybe I should subscribe to his channel =)

  2. Sure =)

    That would be cool, cause you’d see a Kawajiri movie and won’t be able to blame me for dragging you into it xP

    Yep. Maybe he was just trying to get on the good side of that programmer :D And it’s always like that in the movies, technical people just instantly understand things in front of them, be it complicated machines or security systems or pieces of code.

    You would just get a bunch of Minecraft videos, Sethbling makes something this good only about once a year :P

    Also, since we are already off topic here, I wanted to show you this OST from some martial arts movie (which I haven’t seen ^^’) Do you think it sounds similar to Moribito’s soundtrack? =)

    Oh wow, it embedded the player :O Now I feel like I am spamming that comment section :3

    • Then you can follow Sethbling’s channel and recommend me the good videos :3

      That OST sounds pretty good *-* It does sound like Moribito’s sound track. They are both made by the same guy senpai :P His name is Kenji Kawai :3

      • I check his channel from time to time, I’ll tell you if something interesting comes up =)

        Yeah I know, that’s how I found this OST, by searching for Kenji Kawai’s music. Its cool how you can hear the similarity, even though this music doesn’t have any parts from Moribito’s soundtrack.

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