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"Casshern Sins": 24 Bleak Episodes

by on October 14, 2010

Casshern, at some point in the recent past, killed Luna, and without Luna all of robotkind has been slowly reverting to dust and rust. Now, every robot on the cursed Earth wants to track Casshern down, because those who kill him will be granted eternal life. Casshern himself wants to live, and doesn’t even remember the cause of all the strife. With his dog Friender, they wander the world, looking for a purpose.

Casshern isn’t well-known in America, but it’s a legend in Japan. Neo-Human Casshern arrived in Japan in the ’70s (which explains his high collar and disco suit), had an OVA in the early 90s, and a live-action adaptation in the middle of the 00s (one that even reached shelves in Wal-Mart). Gamers could play as him in Tatsunoko VS. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.

Casshern Sins is easily the darkest interpretation of the character. Instead of just being a post-apocalyptic hero battling the forces of evil, this Casshern has a darker past, and the world he inhabits is equally bleak; and if you don’t really know Casshern’s, this series will just seem generically dark. Imagine a world where Superman caused the destruction of Earth and wandered the planet with Krypto for company.

Casshern himself is a decent character, fighting for good though not knowing why. Still, at best he’s a little too one-dimensional, and never truly shows any emotions other than mystified confusion. So, if he is a good character it’s because of the plots he figures in, not how he wades his way through them. It’s with the other cast members that the story truly shines; recurring characters either support or stand in the way of Casshern, and they all have their valid reasons. One standout character—who only appears in one episode—is a mysterious warrior who is out to fight Casshern (and anyone else that stands in her way), because fighting is the only way she can express emotion. This is a world where she just didn’t learn how to express anything outside of the fight.

While the voice acting is admirable, it’s the score truly stands out on the soundtrack. Most of the time, empty quiet fills the atmospheric ruins. Every once in a while, though, a haunting melody will play. Almost a lullaby, it’s the parallel to having a robot slash apart legions of enemies while a song sweetly sings in the background. Its basic designs, deriving from a classic show, give it a unique vibe that stands out amongst the generic anime of the day, but they are given highlights and halos that make them look kind of like Shrinky Dinks.

The 24-episode series was released over two box sets, each with one feature—a short concert on one, and a pre-show announcement and interview with the cast and crew on the other. These are nice, and they beat some other extras that FUNimation has (avoided) putting on many discs, but won’t take up more than a dozen or so minutes of your time. Still, it’s nice to see the how the legacy of Casshern is treated in Japan.

Casshern Sins is not your typical action show. It’s bleak, it’s not fast paced, and you’re not going to be cheering out any lines. Still, it’s a show that stands out from the pack, and should rack in the unique points. It’s a drama with a sentai hero, or Superman on his darkest day.

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