Roujin Z

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Roujin Z
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHiroyuki Kitakubo
Written byKatsuhiro Otomo
Produced byYasuhito Nomura
Yasuku Kazama
Yoshiaki Motoya[1]
CinematographyHideo Okazaki[1]
Edited byEiko Nishide[1]
Music byFumi Itakura[1]
Tokyo Theaters Co.
The Television Inc.
Movic Co
TV Asahi
Sony Music Entertainment
Release date
  • September 14, 1991 (1991-09-14) (Japan)
Running time
84 minutes

Roujin Z (老人Z, Rōjin Zetto, lit. "Old Man Z") is a 1991 Japanese animated science fiction action thriller film directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo and written by Katsuhiro Otomo. The animation for Roujin Z was produced by A.P.P.P. in association with other companies including Movic, Sony Music Entertainment Japan, Aniplex and TV Asahi.


Roujin Z is set in early 21st-century Japan. A group of scientists and hospital administrators, under the direction of the Ministry of Public Welfare, have developed the Z-001: a computerized hospital bed with robotic features.[2][3] The Z-001 takes complete care of the patient: it can dispense food and medicine, remove excretory waste, bathe and exercise the patient lying within its frame. The bed is driven by its own built-in nuclear power reactor—and in the event of an atomic meltdown, the bed (including the patient lying within) would become automatically sealed in concrete.[4]

The first patient to be "volunteered" to test the bed is an 87-year-old dying widower named Kijuro Takazawa. He is an invalid who is cared for by a young nursing student named Haruko.[5] The electronic elements within the Z-001 somehow manage to transcribe Takazawa's thoughts through Haruko's office computer, and he uses the communication to cry for help.[4] Although she objects to such treatment of elderly patients, Haruko begrudgingly seeks the aid of a group of computer hackers in the hospital's geriatric ward to create and install a vocal simulation of Takazawa's deceased wife in the Z-001.[2][3] However, once Takazawa wishes to go to the beach, the Z-001 detaches itself from its moorings and escapes from the hospital with the man in its grasp.[2][6] Haruko's fears are then justified, as it is discovered that the bed is actually a government-designed, experimental weapons robot.[3][5]


Role Japanese[7] English[8]
World Wide Group (1994)
Haruko Mitsuhashi (三橋晴子) Chisa Yokoyama Toni Barry
Takashi Terada (寺田卓) Shinji Ogawa Allan Wenger
Nobuko Ooe (大江信子) Chie Satou Barbara Barnes
Mitsuru Maeda (前田満) Kouji Tsujitani Adam Henderson
Kijuurou Takazawa (高沢喜十郎) Hikojirou Matsumura Ian Thompson
Yoshihiko Hasegawa (長谷川良彦) Shinsuke Chikaishi John Fitzgerald Jay
Haru Takazawa (高沢ハル) Masa Saitou Nicolette McKenzie
Tomoe Satou (佐藤知枝) Rika Matsumoto Jana Carpenter
1st Ache (老人A) Ryuuji Saikachi Seán Barrett
2nd Ache (老人B) Hikojirou Matsumura Blain Fairman
3rd Ache (老人C) Takeshi Aono Nigel Anthony


In his review of Rojin Z, Tony Rayns stated the film focuses on three primary issues: health care for the elderly, the stand-off between traditional values and modern technology and the Right's covert plans to re-militarise Japan.[1]


The animation for Roujin Z was produced by A.P.P.P. in association with other companies including Movic, Sony Music Entertainment Japan, Aniplex and TV Asahi.[8][9][10] The film was directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo, who previously directed the "A Tale of Two Robots" segment in the APPP anthology film Robot Carnival.[11] Katsuhiro Otomo provided the film's story and screenplay.[1][2][5] The characters were designed by Hisashi Eguchi, the manga artist known for Stop!! Hibari-kun!.[2][12] He used his now current wife as a model for Haruko.[13] Eguchi also played part in some of the film's animation, such as its smoke effects, alongside key animator Takeshi Honda.[14][15] Both Otomo and Mitsuo Iso were responsible for the mechanical designs.[3] Satoshi Kon acted as the film's art director and set designer.[2][16][17] Kon previously wrote the script for Otomo's live-action black comedy World Apartment Horror,[18] though Roujin Z was the first anime on which Kon worked.[19][20][21] Otomo opted to not direct the film, as he was more eager to work on World Apartment Horror.[1] The musical score was composed by Bun Itakura.[5][8] Anime localization pioneer Carl Macek was the film's sound design producer.[22] The closing song "Hashire Jitensha" (走れ自転車, lit. "Run, Bicycle Run") is performed by Mishio Ogawa.


All tracks are written by Bun Itakura.

Roujin Z Original Soundtrack (老人Z サウンドトラック)
1."Sensei (宣誓, Declaration)"0:07
2."Z [Accepter]"2:59
3."Aisatsu #1 (挨拶 #1, Greeting #1)"0:08
4."Happy Circle [Opening Title]"2:18
5."Impressions of a MOMENTO"4:16
6."Interlude - Hello Liddy"0:51
7."Metabolism #1~#4"3:34
8."Aisatsu #2 (挨拶 #2, Greeting #2)"0:08
9."Ornament Love"1:20
10."New Type"2:08
12."Interlude - Hustle Mustle→A(W.T.D.)...Wild Today's Description"2:43
14."Stepping Smart [#1 Dark House, #2 Chase]"4:36
15."Interlude - Hollow Dolly"1:36
16."Yume no Sanbashi (夢の桟橋, A Pier of Dream) [#2 Evening]"2:14
17."Hashire Jitensha (走れ自転車, Run, Bicycle Run) [Ending Roll]"4:39
Total length:36:31

Release and marketing[edit]

Roujin Z premiered theatrically in Japan on September 14, 1991.[2] An English-dubbed version was directed by Michael Bakewell with a script adaptation by George Roubicek.[4] The dub was produced by Manga Entertainment UK (a joint venture of Central Park Media and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment) in 1994, and was licensed by Kit Parker Films with a PG-13 rating in the United States.[2][23] The film debuted in the US at an international film festival in Fort Lauderdale during November 1994.[24][25] It was screened in more than 30 cities in the country[26] such as New York City's Angelika Film Center on January 5, 1996.[4][27] Manga Entertainment marketed the film in English-speaking regions as being "by the creator of Akira".[2]

Roujin Z first saw VHS and Laserdisc releases in Japan in 1991, in Great Britain, Europe and Australia in 1994, in North America in 1995, and its first Japanese DVD release on August 21, 1999.[28] An "HD Master Edition" DVD was released in the region on April 13, 2005.[29] The English dub was initially released on VHS by Manga Entertainment in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand in 1994.[30] Image Entertainment distributed the English version on DVD in the US on August 26, 1998.[31] Central Park Media re-released the movie on DVD on April 9, 2002, then again on April 27, 2004 under the US Manga Corps label.[32][33][34] The home video version is currently out-of-print in the US.[23][35] The film has also been broadcast on numerous television networks worldwide, including the Sci-Fi Channel,[36] ImaginAsian,[37] the International Channel,[38] and the Funimation Channel[39][40] in the United States.

The Roujin Z Original Soundtrack was made available for sale in Japan by Epic Records on November 21, 1991.[41] Roujin Z was adapted into a manga titled ZeD (ゼッド, Zeddo), featuring the story by Otomo and illustrated by Tai Okada. It was originally serialized in the Kodansha publication Mr. Magazine from March to December 1991. A single tankōbon bound volume was published in Japan on December 12, 1991.[42] No official English version exists, but Glénat published a French edition on January 22, 1997.[43][44]

Manga Entertainment UK re-released Roujin Z on Blu-ray in June 2012 in conjunction with Kazé UK, the European subsidiary of Viz Media as they hold the rights to the English dub, which they produced in-house in 1994.


From contemporary reviews, Roujin Z won the Mainichi Film Award for animation in 1991.[45] From Western critics, Stephen Holden of The New York Times called it an "amusing futuristic morality tale," noting how it "takes sharp digs at yuppie medical students who welcome a device that will enable them to discard their aging parents and concentrate on their careers."[4] Joey O'Bryan, reviewing Roujin Z for The Austin Chronicle, called the film "briskly paced, intelligent, exciting, and darkly funny."[46] Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, observed: "I cannot imagine this story being told in a conventional movie. Not only would the machine be impossibly expensive and complex to create with special effects, but the social criticism would be immediately blue-penciled by Hollywood executives."[47] Tony Rayns (Sight & Sound) felt the film was "engaging entertainment, not least because it so resolutely counters the expectations of the adolescent males who made up the core audience for Akira."[1] Rayns also noted that "the only real let down in the film was the character design of Haruko", finding her to be "the round-eyed moppet of the type seen everywhere in Japanese schlock made-for-video animation"[1]

From retrospective reviews, Helen McCarthy in 500 Essential Anime Movies called Roujin Z a "gripping movie - an action thriller whose star is even older than Bruce Willis". She stated that it is a "funny film that will keep you entertained and make you think", noting that it is also "one of the most original anime you'll ever see".[48] In 2001, Wizard Entertainment listed the film at number 42 of its top 50 anime to be released in North America.[49] The publisher's magazine Anime Insider listed Roujin Z as the seventh-best anime comedy in its January 2004 issue.[50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rayns, Tony (1994). "Rojin Z/Roujin Z". Sight & Sound. Vol. 4, no. 7. British Film Institute. pp. 52–53.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Beck, Jerry (October 28, 2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 235–6. ISBN 978-1-55652-591-9.
  3. ^ a b c d Crandol, Mike (April 16, 2002). "Review: Roujin Z DVD (remastered edition)". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  4. ^ a b c d e Holden, Stephen (January 5, 1996). "Roujin Z (1991) Film Review; A Gadget-Mad America, Through Japanese Eyes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  5. ^ a b c d Clements, Jonathan; McCarthy, Helen (2006). The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917 (Revised and Expanded ed.). p. 545. ISBN 1-933330-10-4.
  6. ^ TR. "Roujin Z Review". Time Out. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  7. ^ "老人Z(A.P.P.P) 1991年09月14日発売 種別: 映画" [Roujin Z (APPP) Sep 14, 1991 Release Type: Film] (in Japanese). Voice Artist DataBase. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
  8. ^ a b c Willis, John (February 1, 2000). Screen World 1997, Vol. 48. Applause Books. p. 257. ISBN 978-1-55783-321-1.
  9. ^ "Interview: Super Techno Arts". Anime News Network. January 10, 1999. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  10. ^ "老人Z HDマスター版 DVD" [Roujin Z HD Master Edition DVD] (in Japanese). Sony Music Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  11. ^ Camp, Brian; Davis, Julie (2007). Anime Classics Zettai!: 100 Must-See Japanese Animation Masterpieces. Stone Bridge Press. pp. 318–9. ISBN 978-1-933330-22-8.
  12. ^ Amano, Masanao; Wiedemann, Julius (2004). Manga Design. Taschen. p. 125. ISBN 978-3-8228-2591-4.
  13. ^ Baio, Al (2013). "Hisashi Eguchi Interview". Sex Magazine. No. 3. Archived from the original on 2013-04-11.
  14. ^ Ettinger, Benjamin (May 26, 2005). "Toshiyuki Inoue interview - Part 2". AniPages Daily. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  15. ^ Ledoux, Trish; Ranney, Doug; Patten, Fred (February 1, 1997). The Complete Anime Guide: Japanese Animation Film Directory & Resource Guide. Tiger Mountain Press. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-9649542-5-0.
  16. ^ "Perfect Blue/Paprika Director Satoshi Kon Passes Away (Updated)". Anime News Network. August 24, 2010. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  17. ^ "Interview with Satoshi Kon, Director of Perfect Blue". Manga Entertainment. September 4, 1998. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  18. ^ Ciolek, Todd (November 2, 2010). "The Dreams of Satoshi Kon: Chapter I - Prehistory". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  19. ^ Sevakis, Justin (August 21, 2008). "Interview: Satoshi Kon". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  20. ^ Osmond, Andrew (December 1, 2009). Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist. Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 978-1-933330-74-7.
  21. ^ Spurgeon, Tom (August 25, 2010). "Satoshi Kon, 1963-2010". The Comics Reporter. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  22. ^ Bertschy, Zac and Sevakis, Justin (January 15, 2010). "ANNCast: Macek Training". Anime News Network (Podcast). Retrieved 2011-06-25.{{cite podcast}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ a b Sevakis, Justin (April 17, 2008). "Buried Treasure: Roujin Z". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2011-06-25.
  24. ^ Russell, Candace (November 6, 1994). "International Film Festival: Complete Schedule". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Tribune Company: 4F.
  25. ^ "Film Festival Schedule". The Miami Herald. The McClatchy Company. November 10, 1994.
  26. ^ Gutman, Barry (June 26, 2000). "The many faces of CPM". Video Business. Retrieved 2011-06-25.[dead link]
  27. ^ Gilliam, Terry (January 8, 1996). New York. No. 2. New York Media Holdings. p. 64. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ "老人Z [DVD]" [Roujin Z [DVD]] (in Japanese). Retrieved 2011-06-23.
  29. ^ "High-def Roujin Z". Anime News Network. March 13, 2005. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  30. ^ "UK News". Manga Mania. Dark Horse Comics (14). September 1994.
  31. ^ Roujin Z (1996). ASIN 630506251X.
  32. ^ "CPM Release Dates". Anime News Network. April 26, 2002. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  33. ^ "Roujin Z (1996)". Amazon. Retrieved 2011-06-23.
  34. ^ "Anime Releases/Products". Protoculture Addicts. No. 80. Protoculture Inc. January–February 2004. p. 7.
  35. ^ Smith, David (June 6, 2008). "If You Liked... Volume Two". IGN. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  36. ^ "Saturday Anime". Sci-Fi Channel. Archived from the original on 1996-11-24. Retrieved 2011-06-25.
  37. ^ "ImaginAsian TV licenses". Anime News Network. October 26, 2004. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  38. ^ "International Networks :: AZN TELEVISION :: anime". AZN Television. Archived from the original on 2005-04-04. Retrieved 2011-06-25.
  39. ^ Oppliger, John (April 11, 2007). "FUNimation Channel Adds New Programming". AnimeNation. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved 2011-06-23.
  40. ^ Funimation Channel aired Roujin Z only with licensing from Funimation.
  41. ^ "「老人Z」サウンドトラック" [Roujin Z Original Soundtrack] (in Japanese). Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  42. ^ "ZeD(岡田 鯛)" [ZeD (Tai Okada)] (in Japanese). Apple Paradise. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  43. ^ Zed [Paperback] (in French). ASIN 2723421066.
  44. ^ Pelletier, Claude J. (May–June 1997). "Presentation". Protoculture Addicts. No. 45. Protoculture Inc. p. 4.
  45. ^ 毎日映画コンクールの歩み 46 1991年 [Manichi Film History 46th Annual 1991] (in Japanese). Mainichi Shinbun. Archived from the original on 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2011-06-23.
  46. ^ O'Bryan, Joey (April 5, 1996). "Roujin-Z". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  47. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 5, 1996). "Roujin-Z". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  48. ^ McCarthy, Helen. 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide. — Harper Design, 2009. — P. 28. — 528 p. — ISBN 978-0061474507
  49. ^ "Wizard lists Top 50 Anime". Anime News Network. July 16, 2001. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  50. ^ "Anime Insider's Best of Comedy". Anime Insider. Wizard Entertainment (11). January 2004.

External links[edit]