Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: Image Entertainment
- MSRP: 24.99
- Running time: 80
- Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Roujin Z
By Chris Beveridge
August 26, 1998
Release Date: August 26, 1998
What They Say
© Image Entertainment
An elderly invalid, Takazawa, is volunteered for a bizarre experiment that may revolutionize care for the elderly--despite the protests of his young nurse, Haruko. The Z-001 is supposed to be the ultimate surrogate nurse--it can monitor, bathe, feed, exercise and provide entertainment by linking with the patient's brainwaves.
However, the capabilities of the mechanical caregiver grow beyond the designer's original plans when it attempts to satisfy Takazawa's every need. Responding to his whim, the Z-001 transforms into a bizarre, unstoppable robot--which smashes out of the hospital and battles its way through police barricades en route to the beach! However, one of the designers has a hidden agenda and unveils a secret military prototype of the Z-001, Codename: Alpha. The only person who can rescue Takazawa from the over-protective grip of the Z-001, and Alpha, is the person who knows him best --Haruko.The Review!
Roujin Z is an old favorite of mine. I bought a fansub copy several years ago, and enjoyed it tremendously, even though the video quality was probably 5th generation. Once US Manga acquired the title, I eagerly awaited the laserdisc release. I mean, it's Katsuhiro Otomo! It'll be out! But no, it never made it to laserdisc, and I never bought the VHS version. As one can imagine, I'm quite happy now!
The audio on the disc is a decent Dolby Digital Surround track. Some decent surround use at times, but it's not overly needed. Dialogue is clear on the Japanese track, with decent use of the entire front stage.
The video is of excellent quality as well. The movie is made up of a lot of pastel colors, very subdued. Even what you would think of as a bright color is presented (as the creators intended) as very pale, almost like the many colors you find in a hospital. Very antiseptic. With a color scheme like this, the video doesn't really shine, but there's nothing at all bad about this transfer (presented in its original theatrical aspect of 1.66:1).
Roujin-Z is presented in the snapper case, as it is an Image licensed title. There isn't much that's terribly flashy or eye-catching about the cover art though.
The menu is typical of Image. Decent, gets the job done. Nothing all that flashy, though it's nice that they used some vibrant colors and artwork for it.
As for the movie itself, it's a lot of fun. It deals with a problem that you normally wouldn't find anime fans running into. What to do with our growing elderly population. With Japan facing this large problem, and the US also going to be facing it in the decades to come, it's quite relevant. The basic plot of the story is that a special nuclear-powered bed is created by the Ministry of Public Welfare that will tend to the needs of the patient. ALL their needs. From feeding, washing and waste removal all the way to playing video games and playing the stock market. It's quite versatile!
The test subject for the first bed becomes a small focus, while we concentrate more on the hip young nurse who is no longer able to care for him since the bed is doing it all. But, it looks as if the patient doesn't want to stay in the bed! The hilarity ensues from there as the bed (a sixth generation computer) gains its own intelligence and uses its features far beyond what its creators expected. There are several secrets revealed as the story progresses, but it's just a lot of fun watching everything happen. The main focus is still on the issue of the elderly, but is presented in an entertaining but never degrading way.
This is an very well done disc, and another excellent movie from the creator of Akira.
English Language,Japanese Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.