Blu-ray Review: Roujin Z / Cert: 15 / Director: Hiroyuki Kitakubo / Screenplay: Katsuhiro Ohtomo / Starring: Chisa Yokoyama, Nigel Anthony, Barbara Barnes / Release Date: Out Now
Whenever a new format appears on the home entertainment market, it gives you ample opportunity to see some things that you may have missed first time around. Released in the western markets in the middle of the anime boom of the early 90’s, Roujin Z was inexplicably popular when it first came out. The opportunity to see the film if you missed it first time around is probably not something you should take up however if you wish to keep migraine free.
The story as far as I could make out concerns an elderly gentleman who is bed ridden and is suddenly borderline kidnapped by some government/corporate/military types and given the opportunity to become the first recipient of the Z-001 – an artificially intelligent bed driven by nuclear power. His nurse Hiruko is concerned and becomes more concerned when the Z-001 becomes self-aware, starts logging into networks, tries to make itself into some kind of giant robot and goes on a rampage with the elderly patient trapped inside.
I have no doubt that in the early 90s this was moderately diverting, however when seen now time has been very unkind. The animation is very poor and this isn’t a time issue, as Mamoru Oshii and Yoshiaki Kawajiri were doing beautiful work around the same time. Quite often there is no detail on characters’ faces even if they are not that far away from the frame, this would be forgivable on VHS but under the harsh glare of Blu-ray it just doesn’t work.
Apart from this the story and tone are all over the place. It starts off like a satire of the future along the lines of Robocop and then introduces a Scooby gang of nurses perverts, becoming something along the lines of a carry on film and all satire is abandoned in favour of innuendo and bawdy humour. Quite what happens in the last fifteen minutes is anyone’s guess but it seemed like badly animated junk being thrown around a city for no discernible reason.
If you have to watch this then do yourself a favour and watch the subtitled version. It’s not as bad anymore with modern dubs being quite good but back in the early days the English dubbing was ruined by shrill female voice actors and monotone male performers. The dubbing on this is especially bad and could conceivably be used as torture in some dictatorships.
Roujin Z has not aged well, not well at all. Stick with the classics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Ninja Scroll for anime that has aged like fine wine.
Special Features: None