The title translates as old man Z. This movie was written by Katsuhiro Otomo, best known as the creator of Akira, and became a movie several years after Akira. It's a different focus, but the authors interest in technology and control leads to some very familiar scenes.
The basic plot, seemingly some time in the near future, starts from a real world concern. The cost and complexity of dealing with the old and infirm, especially those without family support, is ever expanding. Meanwhile the governments willingness to provide people and money to address the problem is not expanding. We follow a student nurse who volunteers time to geriatric care, and one of her patients, as science reaches out a helping hand. The ministry of health has, with the generous sponsorship of certain corporations, constructed a robotic bed of unparalled sophistications. This bed is capable of an awe-inspiring range of actions which makes caring for the aged so much easier. Indeed the capabilities of the bed include a novel 6th generation AI (provided with out charge by the manufacturer) which makes it perfect and leads to everyone being very happy...hm, perhaps not.
It's going to be hard to say too much without risking spoilers, but I suspect most people (and anyone who knows the author) are going to have some suspicions. This can be sort of confirmed by mentioning that this film has a fairly decent slab of action which reaches quite an impressive scale by the conclusion. On the other hand it is interesting seeing how various people, forces and needs become focused and affected by what the bed represents. In some ways it is a fairly powerful symbol for a rather wide variety of real life concerns. However while the basis is very strong the actual thrust of the film is fairly direct and obvious. It shows some signs of a strong single idea being extended to power the whole movie. This means it lacks some of the complexity required to be a truly classic movie. This is also reflected in the characters who have only as much depth as is required for them to play their part. Still the core idea is interesting, there's always enough to keep you interested and the conclusion is impressive and nicely handled.
The animation is also interesting in that it is somewhat variable in its quality. It is certainly ambitious, and often successful, but has some poorer moments. Certainly the character designs for the lesser characters is a bit charicaturish and sometimes looks downright strange. Likewise the motion seems to have been done with the minimum number of frames. Then again this is probably made more obvious by just how complex some of the scenes, especially towards the conclusion, become. The less generous view is that everthing that is not `core' to the movie has been drastically simplified, and both character design, dialog and even voices do lend some support to this possibility. The technical design is interesting, and makes some sense on the surface even though the core concepts are better if accepted without thought.
The folks at THEM have a review but don't seem sure what to make of it. Their suggestion that the movie has a flavor like a `strawberry rubber tire' certainly not helping things. The review is positive however, giving it four stars and calling it a `fun' movie. There's a review at Akemi's AnimeWorld which could be accused of giving a bit too much away (although I guess it is fairly obvious). Still the summary as `good', but a bit too weird for some should be enough to base a decision on. The full review is here. There's a very interesting, and opposed review from the Anime Review which considers it somewhat confused in its intent, and disappointing as a result. The review also does a reasonable job of giving support for the position while not giving too much away. There's a positive review from Lord Carnage which neatly describes the bed as having "maximum efficiency and minimum compassion". He likes it a lot, but I must admit I wouldn't suggest it for introducing people to anime as he does.