Released Year : October 2, 2008 to March 16, 2009
No of Episodes : 24
Genre : Action,Adventure,Sci-Fi
Plot : In the distant future, where cyborgs and humans struggle to survive after the war which destroyed the world, a being in white suit awakens. His name is Casshern and he remembers nothing of his own past. In barren and dark dystopian world, where every being alive seems to hate his existence and the evil from his past wants him dead, Casshern, haunted by the flashes of his past memories has to survive and figure out who or what exactly he is and how he got to where he is now. But he does not know that he might not like the horrible truth of the past, hidden deep inside his mind... Created as an intended reboot of Casshern franchise.
Our Review : Erected from the pillars that once cradled human civilization, the Robotic Empire reached its pinnacle under the iron-clad rule of Braiking Boss and the grace of the Sun that was called Moon. Then came the Ruin, and with it the end of those fabled days. Once thought immortal, the empire, its structures and citizens, and even nature itself into rust and decay and death. A landscape dotted with the deceased and dying, attributed to the sins of one machine... Casshern.
Directed by Shingeyasu Yamauchi, scripted by Reiko Yoshida and Yasuko Kobayashi, and produced by Madhouse, whose resume includes the popular Death Note, the recent Chihayafuru, the somber Gunslinger Girl, and the short Death Billiards, Casshern Sins is a reboot of earlier Casshern franchises, Shinzou Nigen Casshern and Casshern: Robot Hunter. The old-school character design by Yoshihiko Umakoshi is meant to be a tribute to those earlier eras of Casshern and anime itself. This new reincarnation, however, takes more similarities in substance from, say, the Rebuild of Evangelion than the Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movies in that they both seek to tell their own separate tales. However, unlike the Rebuild of Evangelion, a copy and paste of personality and drive of its earlier counterpart, Neon Genesis Evangelion, this show hosts vastly dissimilar character backstories and motivations. Now, as grave his deed may be of killing Luna and, consequently, unleashing the Ruin, the Casshern the audience follows at the show's opening, as opposed to the Casshern of flashbacks, has no recollection of his deed nor much knowledge of the consequences of the devastation aside for the obvious absence of life from organisms and machines alike, hounded by hordes of robotic thugs wishing to consume his flesh so they can live forever, or so the rumor goes (a fallacious conclusion due to Casshern somehow gaining immortal himself) and Lyuze, a robot in the likeness of a woman, that seeks vengeance for his supposed crimes. Yes, robots are defined, in part, by gender. It's not for guttural reasons for once, mind you.
Consider the philosophical classification of being and personhood. Being refers to concrete qualities such as a blood vessel or a wired transistor, whereas personhood refers to more abstract qualities, yet qualities the majority of us can't deny doesn't exist, such as emotion, reason, and free will. Now, put aside any preconceived notions of mechanical agents save their hardware and understand that the robots in this setting are both beings and persons, much as humans typically are. Factoring the fact that a robot can exist indefinitely and coupling it with the effects of the Ruin, these elements are a conceptual build for this question: how would one react when suddenly confronted with the reality of mortality? It's something humanity has long since acknowledged, but robot-kind? What we have here isn't mainly sci-fi or action. People looking for primarily one or the other will be disappointed. Instead, we have life's meaning. If you're not interested in topics pertaining to existentialism, as too many people are unfortunately, then you might want to pass this show by. If you are, then, by all means... read on.
Casshern and ourselves ignorant of the Ruin, its effects on all persons, places, and things it encompasses, we learn about this destitute world's people as well as the world itself bit by bit through his eyes, his encounters. Each of these encounters follow an episodic format: the inhabitants of the hospice, the man who coughs blood, the angel of ruin, the maker of bells, the singer, the artist, etc. Some romantic, others tragic, still others enigmatic, but most... inspiring, and soon a theme takes shape. A matter of living vs. existing. Our female warrior confronts the same internal conflict in Episode 20, complete with a host of surreal spatterings. Kudos to Madhouse, or rather, some studio other than Shaft, for putting the effort to experiment, to challenge the bounds of what constitutes a meaningful visual experience. The more conventional visuals are excellent as well. The devastation of the Ruin and the traces of life in plants and people in between, already striking to the eye, become more poignantly bleak and beautiful in juxtaposition than they would otherwise. The same can be said of peoples' that have given in or carry on in the face of death and the way they carry themselves, whether on the move or in a fight, from clunky and cluttered, to impassioned and empowered.
With shows of episodic natures, specially ones that have more to do with observation than action, they can afford to take a few more liberties than would otherwise be acceptable. However, the conveniences have piled up in Casshern Sins to a point where they are too noticeable to ignore, particularly the frequency and timing of generic mobs assaulting Casshern and whatever company he keeps for generic reasons: misery loves company, and desperation begets savagery. It's not that these reasons aren't worthy for illustration, but they lose their impact when they become cliches. It gets tiring when the show has to resort to them to make a point. Devoid of much in the way of substantial variance, the fighting and imagery can get fatiguing, even if they aren't merely for the fighting and imagery's sake. I can only look at flowers and Casshern going apeshit on metallic husks for so long until I have to shout “I get it already!” to get rid of the frustration. The recurring cast too, for that matter. Then there are just moments where both feel out of place, particularly towards the end. Speaking of endings, the show decided to forgo episodic beginning at the half-way mark and finish plot-driven, namely, discovering how to end the Ruin. Unfortunately, plot-driven narratives permit far less wiggle room and require more solid development, and the content of before hadn't done much of a good trying to map out the developments of this overarching plot. The result toward the end were that certain mysteries from before were completely neglected and others after were suggested but forgotten or too ambiguous to really appreciate. New material is rammed in, scattered throughout, and resolved without enough time for it to settle and concentrate. Some developments occur that even within episodic paradigm are hard even for me to swallow, not to mention certain themes are just stabbed over and over like a mentally battle-scarred greenhorn trying to make sure his bloated, putrid husk of an enemy adversary is dead with his equally vile-smelling bayonet. The time the show took toward overemphasize would be better served trying to address more pressing issues. And finally, the resolution that Casshern ultimately decides to act on, one of arrogance, is one that, given his journey and my convictions, leaves a foul taste.
The aesthetics for the OP “Aoi Hana” or “Blue Flower” by Color Bottle is mainly composed of a sequence of pictures of Casshern and Lyuze doing aloof poses. However, combined with the acute climb in musical intensity from rest, the images take a transitional quality, blurring the seams of stagnancy into motion, a blurred barrier between still artwork and animation frames, blurs of vocals. The music itself is comprised of a freewheelings of the drum set, electric guitar, and male vocals. They give off this air of freedom in how each of these parts, summed together, can so effortlessly careen in speed, volume, and dynamic. The OP and EDs have lyrics fitting for the subject of the show, but while the OP appears to mimic fits of passion, the EDs take on more subdued, reflective tones. That, of course doesn't diminish the enjoyment I got from either. The EDs for Episodes 1-12 and 14-23 are “Reason,” by K∧N∧ and “Hikari to Kage,” or “Light Like a Shadow,” by Shinji Kuno respectively. Both are pleasant, the former, upbeat and uplifting, the latter, dreamy and drifting. Episode 13 has a separate ED entitled “Aoi Kage.” While the rest of the OST excels in helping establish a tonally appropriate mood for each scene that it is present in, a noteworthy mention goes to the OST, “A Path,” by Nami Miyahara in the sub and Caitlin Glass in the dub. Sung by the main episodic one-shot character Janice in Episode 8, the number recurs throughout the series. If there's one factor that may lead one to watch the dub over the sub, it's that the English voice actor on this particular piece does a better job than her Japanese Seiyū counterpart. In addition to being fluent in the language that the lyrics for the OST was written in, namely, English, Glass just conveys more passion, more power, more consistency, more expression, more flourish into the words. In Episode 8, she works with the motions of her character as Janice has her moment on stage, whereas Miyahara work feels, comparatively, distant and disconnected.
Though distasteful the ending may have been received by me personally, I'm grateful toward the show and all its moments throughout its beginning three fourths worth of content, splayed out in those many encounters, those many moments, for taking on such a bold and contemplative topic in such an inventive and imaginative way.
I give Casshern Sins an 8 out of 10.