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Anime / Roujin Z

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Roujin Z (老人Z, Rōjin Zetto, "Old Man Z") is a 1991 animated movie written by Katsuhiro Otomo (the creator of AKIRA) and directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo, with Satoshi Kon as art director and set designer.

Set in the near future, where the number of elderly has started to severely burden the Japanese economy, the Ministry of Public Welfare comes up with an interesting idea: the Z-001, a robotic bed that fulfills all the needs of its residents (monitoring health, providing food, disposing of waste, etc.). A senile old man named Kiyuro Takazawa is taken as the first test subject, over the protestations of his volunteer nurse Haruko Mitsuhashi, who feels that Mr. Takazawa needs a human touch that the Z-001 cannot provide. When she breaks into his hospital room in order to free him, she seems to accidentally activate some unknown features of the Z-001: discovering that the machine can move around and change its shape, and later imbuing the Z-001 with the personality of Mr. Takazawa's dead wife. The voice of his wife awakens certain memories in Mr. Takazawa, who remembers when the two of them visited Kamakura, and suddenly he has a desire to visit the beach...

This movie provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Anti-Villain: Mr. Terada is at worst a Well-Intentioned Extremist who truly feels that he is doing the right thing by promoting the Z-001 over human nurses. After he's lectured on the importance of human care by Z-001 and discovers Hasegawa's intentions to militarize the technology, he undergoes a proper Heel–Face Turn and helps Haruko deliver Mr. Takazawa to the beach.
  • Art Shift: The opening credits show a live-action hand painting the title.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: By the climax, Mr. Terada is right at the center of the action. He even develops a pretty badass catchphrase: "No one messes with the Ministry of Public Welfare!"
  • Cool Old Guy: Three of them, all veteran computer hackers who happen to be in the old folks home that Haruko works in. They reprogram the Z-001 to mimic Mrs. Takazawa's voice.
  • Dirty Coward: Maeda. It doesn't help but for a good chunk of the film, he was color-coded yellow out of the core four Med students and was the sole recipient of the one swear word peppered throughout (at least in the English Dub).
  • Eagle Land: The Pentagon is mentioned as the only possible source of the bio-chips that power the Z-001's computer.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Hasegawa, who was secretly developing a weaponized version of Z-001 alongside the civilian model.
  • Here We Go Again!: The core of the Z-001 survives its destruction and is taken by a cat. In the final scene of the film, it's revealed that the core has built itself a new metal body out of all the metal scrap it could find — said scrap including the Great Buddha of Kamakura — and is ready to take Mr. Takazawa to the beach again...
  • Shout-Out: The title echoes that of Mazinger Z, the Trope Codifier of the Super Robot Genre.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mr. Terada legitimately feels the Z-001 will improve the lives of the elderly.