Despite being a remake to a kitschy 70’s anime “classic,” Casshern Sins begins promisingly. In the first few episodes, the creators lay out a post-apocalyptic setting that manages to feel both unabashedly retro and grimly bleak at the same time. The resulting mix of camp and angst is weirdly intriguing, especially when the solid supporting characters and mysterious titular protagonist are factored in.
Sadly, Casshern Sins fails to live up to its initial promise due to its unfocused overarching narrative. Rather than develop any core theme in the early to middle stages, the series meanders among flavor-of-the-week plots and half-hearted attempts at a main story. After countless thematically tangential episodes, the anime barely has room to resolve its main plotline and is forced to squeeze a half-hearted conclusion into the final few episodes. The final episodes seem to assert that death is needed to make life worth living. However, the distracted narrative and conflicting themes beforehand causes this moralizing to feel hollow and unconvincing by the time the creators decide to tack it to the end. At the end of the series, Casshern Sins doesn’t feel like it was ever actually about anything, and this is perhaps its greatest flaw.
The anime’s plot is further diluted by lame fight scenes that lack context or relevance. In many occasions, a group of mooks will simply appear in the middle of an episode to suicidally impale themselves on Casshern’s foot. These scenes appear to have been inserted to please the action junkies, but the problem is that Casshern Sins tries to be something more than just another shounen action show. By mixing mindless action with serious science-fiction, the anime fails to appeal to fans of either.
Still, in spite of all these weaknesses, the series is not without merit. Casshern Sins’ main strengths lie not in the actual meat of the plot, but in the assorted one-shot episodes that pepper the overarching narrative. While they disrupt the flow of the actual story, many of the disjointed plotlines are well-written enough to be entertaining in their own right. Granted, not all of the self-contained stories are good, but others are genuinely compelling. This alone prevents Sins’ story from being an outright failure.
Fortunately, Casshern Sins has an excellent idea of what it wants to look like, if not what it wants to be about. Put simply, the style of the series' dystopian setting is wonderful. Casshern Sins uses carefully chosen color schemes and crisp animation all to great effect, and the final visual package is one of the most impressive I've seen this year. A particularly impressive aspect of the visual package is the dramatic use of light in just about every scene. It's not Makoto Shinkai obsessive, but the shadows drawn across the hero's face do a lot to darken the mood.
Voice acting as a whole is uneven. The protagonist’s seiyuu is so hideously terrible that I genuinely wondered if he was trying to sound wooden on purpose, while some of the supporting roles turn in excellent work. On the other hand, the background music is almost universally excellent. The music grimly underscores the anime’s bleak mood without ever becoming a distraction. The soundtrack’s one flaw is its frequent repetition, but this never becomes too much of a problem.
In addition to the haphazard plot and the hamfisted ending, the creators botch the characterization on nearly every major player in the show. Casshern himself is the most egregious example; his deadpan voice acting, terrible dialogue and unconvincing development combine to form one of the most ineffective protagonists that I've ever seen. Dio and Leda, the two main villains, are almost as bad; not only are their motivations left woefully unexplained, they're just flat-out boring characters.
Fortunately, some of the supporting characters fare better; Lluyze in particular is a welcome exception to the bad characterization. Casshern Sins dedicates an entire episode to dissecting her psyche in a weird and decidedly Freudian fashion, and the result is arguably the highlight of the show. Sadly, she is a comparatively minor character and simply can't carry the show on her own.
Overall, I enjoyed myself as I was watching and in particular liked the one-shot episodes, which at times evoke the amazing work done in Kino's Journey. However, the turgid overarching narrative, the bad characters and the incompetent ending make me wonder if these scattered episodes were enough to make the series actually worth my time.
- The series is a remake of a much older series of the 70’s. The original was pretty standard stuff in terms of story. Machines rebel and conquer humanity and the son of the inventor of the machines turns into a powerful cyborg and fights in order to save humanity from extinction. Got the basics? Well, you can now forget them in the remake. This feels more like an entirely different story with a few names and character designs working simply as cameos and tributes to the original. In this one, it’s not good humans versus bad robots and Luna is not the hero’s girlfriend.
- Anyway, if you care for a quick look on the original, there is a set of 4 OVAs, simply titled Casshan that will fill all questions about the source material. It is somewhat of a more dramatic Power Rangers with humans and robots having hints of shades of gray in terms of personality.
ART SECTION: 8/10 [The Horobi is everywhere…]
General Artwork 2/2: Studio Madhouse delivers beauty once again… In the form of dread. Hell, it is so stylized that it feels more like modern art than anime backgrounds. An endless wasteland with water and flowerbeds being contrasts. Initially, it felt like Fist of the North Star but eventually it is very artistic and conveys feelings of fear and unrest much easier.
Character Figures 2/2: Well, they look as if they jumped out of a 70’s series (weird hairdo, huge eyes, simple body lining). This is positive in two ways since it does make them to easily stand out from the norm of recent series and even makes them appealing to retro-lovers. They have a cute-looking design that makes a huge contrast with the bleakness in the story. It is an effect that increases the emotional impact on you by many-fold. It is a neat trick; even the ridiculous Elfen Lied cast felt dramatic because of the kawai way the girls were drawn.
Backgrounds/ Animation/ Visual Effects 4/6: As for the rest of the sub-sections, they are more or less good. The lack of real detail and the repetitive wastelands may tire at times, but the contrast of water and flowers, along with flare and overexposed film effects really break the monotony and bring you back up into watching. The motion in frames is generally good, although it does have its share of huge static pictures.
SOUND SECTION: 8/10 [And now I will explain everything…]
Voice Acting 2/3: Very good in all; there are no too ridiculous pinches in the series. Most of the characters do sound immature and silly like spoiled kids every now and then, but this is done purely in order to point their unawareness during their quest for salvation in a dying world. Plus, it made their youthful way of talking to provide an antithesis with the grim atmosphere and thus increase the emotional impact on the viewer’s ears. What does ruin this fondness are the loooong monologues. Everyone talks for several minutes and anything else he/she does seems to have no effect on the story. So, it is a series of monologues and immature-sounding characters listening quietly and then questioning the talker. It does become tiresome at times, as some things are better to be shown instead of just being told.
Music Themes 3/4: Ok, nice to hear. The opening and ending songs are elegiac to the point of a hate/love relationship but in no case you will not notice them. They convey the feeling they aim to convey, so they are successful. No out of place pop songs. Still, they are not songs I will ever hum when I feel bored…
Sound Effects 3/3: Ok, the sound of rusty metal crumbling in the wind will scar you for good. All the sounds in the series aim to make you feel dread and unrest. And boy, they succeed with flying colors. Water drops on pools, walking on rubble, fabrics flapping on the scorching wind… You name it. They sure made me turn the lights on.
STORY SECTION: 6/10 [The meaning of life, defined by the sight of surrounding death]
Premise / Complexity 4/4: Ah, in the piles of trash we are given every year, and with crapish series like Sky Girls gaining more room every day, this one truly is a jewel in the midst of a trash yard. Metaphorically, the hero in the story is the only creature not rotting away like everyone else, so in a way it really makes a parallel.
In the story, the world is overrun by robots but is dying from a decease that slowly rusts robots. The protagonist, Casshan, wakes up with amnesia and is told that everything is his fault, as he killed the source of all life, Luna. Now, everyone wants to kill him, as there is a rumor, which states that the one who devours him will be cured from the decease, and gain eternal life. So, Casshan begins a journey of self-acknowledgement, in order to escape his pursuers and find the missing parts in his memory. Wherever he is going, he encounters death and decay, people who have gotten insane because of the inevitable death or have accepted their doom and await their end.
As you can imagine, the story revolves around death. Death in all its forms and its effects on living creatures, who know that they will soon die. For you see, robots in the series are treated as living. They used to be ageless and not afraid of death and now are facing extinction and have turned into all sorts of madmen and philosophical blabbers. As for humans, well, they are practically extinct; with a few individuals remaining that have a seemingly futile purpose to fulfill; yet it is the only thing that keeps them willing to remain alive.
So, the general idea behind the series is fantastic, as almost no other anime ever bothered dealing with a taboo theme like death in such multi-layered ways. The norm is usually some spunky teenager with high ideals aiming to save the world, become the best in the field and bring peace and happiness to all. Well, forget all that idealistic clichés; this one is truly gloomy and depressing. Yet in the end of the day it tries to shine upon the beauty of life by pointing out its ephemeral duration. You don’t appreciate life if you are not afraid or aware of death.
So sure, the thrill of dealing with the upcoming death and even oblivion makes the story of this anime really something. Every episode features a situation where someone deals with death in his own way and thus giving a meaning to his otherwise fade of existence.
Pacing / Plausibility 1/4: Ok, enough with the good part; let’s deal with the bad parts. The series is almost entirely episodic; most episodes feature characters you will never see again. That does give a feeling of pointlessness on the part of the hero’s struggle, as everything he does doesn’t really pay off. Ok, maybe the purpose of the series really is about doing things that don’t pay off in the long term. Still, only 6 out of the 24 episodes feature an on-going story, and even those offer it with a spoon. Meaning, if you don’t fancy really slow plot and seemingly events that have nothing to add to the story then you will most likely get bored with it pretty soon, as I did.
Some may say that the slow plot aims at absorbing you into the world and giving you the time to identify yourself with the tragedy of the characters. Still, 24 episodes were waaaaaaaaay to many for such a thing. And anyway, I never felt that the main lead could be defeated in battle. It is revealed pretty fast that he is immortal and thus, incapable of loosing. Something that all others are not and thus can be defeated if the lead keeps trying to beat them. That made all battles anti-climactic and unnecessary.
Then, there is the thing with repetitiveness on the part of the plot. Almost every episode features the same form of development. Some pretty lady or weak people are attacked by crazed robots, who pretty much kill for fun. Casshan will jump out of thin air, defeat the robots and listen to the worries of the ones he saved. After a long monologue full of existentialism issues, a spar will follow where no matter who wins, the fight ends with more monologues and Casshan going away. Next episode; repeat process…
Well, that kind of makes this anime to feel as repetitive as Pokemon. Although it does give you more insight on the parts of the characters and the tragic fate of the world, it still remains repetitive. If you like twists in the formula, you will not find any. If you expect a character to return in another episode, he pretty much won’t. Thus, in terms of plot, the series is very repetitive and simple with the meaning behind monologues to be the thing that really matters.
So, in other words, forget the action. All the battles offer nothing to the story. They either end with a character sparing with Casshan and leaving “because it’s not the time” or Casshan beating robot mooks in a Fist of the North Star fashion. Also, forget about the plot. It is almost the same in every episode. Just listen to the monologues. It’s the only thing that really matters. If you like this sort of thing, then you will like the series a lot more than I did. I for once expect fast pace and plot twists at every corner. Too much blah, blah, is not my cup of tea.
Maybe a different director would have done a different and better job, but Yamauchi Sigeyasu always has this style of simple/episodic series with moody characters. I can’t say I like any of his works (Crying Freeman, Boys Over Flowers, Doctor Slump, Dream Eater Merry).
Conclusion 1/2: Thus, it finally comes to an end in episode 24. Was it fulfilling? I am not sure. Nothing was left unresolved and yet nothing was clear of what was the fate of all the characters who remained alive. Because, duh, many did die so you don’t need to know anything more about them. Although the ending explains what followed the events of the series (in a long monologue as usual) it still didn’t mention what did the characters do. It is bittersweet and fulfilling on an emotional level, yet on a plot-wise level it feels open to interpretation and does leave room for a sequel. So, it is a mixed bag.
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10 [Luna, I will kill you.]
Personality 1/2: You don’t live if you believe you are immortal. I mean, you don’t really care in series like Dragonball Z or One Piece about the fate of its characters. Because they can never be killed or even if they do, they can simply be resurrected; thus having an unlimited time of trying and empowering they will eventually beat the bad guy and save the day. In this series, everyone who dies, pretty much remains dead. Plus, they will all die very soon if a solution is not found, so they do not have limitless time to do so. This is the basic reason all the characters in the series have very extreme goals that seem ridiculous to people who are not aware of their upcoming doom. Thus, all the characters act in very crazy and extreme ways and for once, it is excused.
You do feel compassion and understanding about them because you know they can die at any moment and their actions are their personal ways of feeling alive and leaving their mark in the world as means of not be forgotten; of not being as if they never existed. It is truly marvelous to see how someone can deal with such issues under the pressure of doom and decay. Something you would never feel about a character like Ash Ketcham and his quest to catch Pokemon / win Badges, as he is ageless and his existence is pretty much a false circle of doing things that he forgets by the next episode and beating Rocket team, which returns on the next episode like nothing happened.
Still, there is a part were most don’t notice in stories. In this series the characters behave more like plot elements rather than living, breathing people. They are more of anthropomorphic personifications (sic) of certain emotions and ideas rather than complicating personalities. They are all fixed on a certain goal, which kind of makes them 2-dimensional. Oh, sure, they usually change opinions when they talk or fight Casshan. Still, it’s more like they are questioning their beliefs before performing a U turn to their initial goals. Or, hell, just keep doing what they were planning on doing anyway. Anyway, it feels too polarized by the end of the day. It’s either left or right. No middle choices. This is kind of excused by the episodic nature of the series. In fact, the general feeling of the series is pretty polarized by default; so it is an accepted fact. Life or death, struggle or acceptance, truth or oblivion… Still, it is an element I dislike in characters.
Presence & Backdrop 3/4: Although the characters show a multitude of emotions that makes them far more than just caricatures with a signature special attack or personality quirk, they are still pretty easy to understand (in a bad way). Especially the mook robot warriors; they were copies of one another. Idiots, smashing things for fun and fighting opponents that are obviously incapable of defeating. Still, this is not a series that tries to confuse you with scheming, multi-faced, multi-layered characters. It offers simple to understand and bind with characters. Even the backdrop stories of everyone are rather simple. They are a mystery at first (which lures you to be curious and pay attention) but through some dialogue it is revealed in a quite simple to understand way; so you immediately know what is what with them.
Development & Catharsis 3/4: Well, the series generally does a good job rounding up the cast. By the end of it, everything there was to be said about them is more or less said and done. No real unfinished business for the main cast. Yet, many secondary characters are present only for one episode, so there is no real catharsis for them. More like stating their reason for being and them letting them keep doing it, while fading in the background. As for the ones who die, they seem to acquire catharsis because they accept thing as they are… just because they are dying. It feels like death is panacea for all your worries in the series; something that contradicts most of the goals in the cast who pretty much struggles in order to survive. Plus, even those who do make it to the end, you are left to imagine through a dialogue what has happened to them.
VALUE SECTION: 6/10 [Value your life by killing others.]
Historical Value 1/3: Nothing much.
Memorability 4/4: It does stand out from the lot. It does make you think. It does leave you with lasting impressions and images and does manage to make you notice/remember its cast.
Rewatchability 1/3: But the chances or rewatching the whole thing are low for me. The theme and plot repeat themselves a lot more than they should, thus nothing much is left to be understood better by a second viewing. Plus, most people stay away from depressing anime so one time will be lasting and enough for the majority.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10 [Hate the book, enjoy the text]
- I did enjoy the aesthetic part of the series. I also loved the messages about the greatness of life by accepting death. Yet, the repetitive plot and the anti-climactic battles really made me feel bored half the time. This is not an action series and should never be watched by action lovers. Still, watching the same things repeating again and again did feel like the scriptwriters just rehashed the storyboard in every episode and simply changed the dialogues. As for the peak of interest, it was more like “and now I will explain everything with another monologue” than some huge confrontation of wits and brawns.
- This is a series of monologues. Everything is told and not shown. You can get what it tries to pass to you without even looking at the screen. Just listening to the monologues and the eerie sounds is enough. So, it misses the balance of mystery/action/revelations I love seeing in anime.
VERDICT: 6.5 / 10
If you don’t fall asleep by listening to the monologues, you will like it. If you expect a twist or a brawling or an epic conclusion, you won’t.
Casshern (the live action movie, one of the few sci-fi movies that outshine their anime version)
Melody of Oblivion
Bounen no Xamdou
Are you sick of seeing the usual criticism, mostly composed of empty words about something people were expecting, and it never came? Are you tired of reading reviews with exaggerated requirements, full of nonsense and comparison of aspects, which actually can't be compared? Then this review might be especially for you.
Today we will concentrate on one of the most underrated anime, reboot of anime classic, Casshern Sins. Despite of some present signs of original pattern Casshan (or Neo-Human Casshern), the story of Casshern Sins is actually something completely different, most likely reminiscent of some OVA or anime original series.
The series presents a haunting concept of Madhouse classical theme "Memento Mori", which regarding their production is not a solitary matter. In the next paragraphs I will try to respond to the issue, if their work was really inconsistent babel or modern, anime masterpiece.
Self-aware robots which subjugated humanity, are taking their life for granted until the cataclysmic event, caused by unfortunate assassination of mankind almighty salvation Luna, usually called sun, that was once named moon. This is but just a prologue to the deep, diverse journey of mysterious warrior Casshern, which has forgotten all his past and currently wanders through the wasteland seeking a chance to redeem himself.
The pacing is mostly episodic, except latter episodes which are more or less connected. The each one of these episodes has its own charge, which forces viewer to look further, not just watch mindlessly. The way how Casshern encounters people who have been affected by the cataclysm is just out of this world. Without doubt one of the strongest feelings I have stumbled across watching anime. Saddened with his past deeds and confronted by the many, Casshern recognizes the true meaning of death, which himself cannot experience as a punishment for what he has done.
I would be lying if I write, that series does not possess any mistakes. As one of the may be understood the unbalanced blending of episodic and non-episodic chapters of Casshern journey, which is inadequately dragging or on the contrary rushing the plot, leading to unsatisfactory conclusions. As another flaws could be considered aspects as recurring lack of explanation, idle usage of some characters or even not concluded end of the series. One way or another, these things mostly depend on the personal preference of a watcher, so I don't think it is outright to deal with them more than is necessary.
The art style succeeds in creation of depressive post-apocalyptic world, filled with ruin, hatred and destruction. Most of the time we are able to see simple but excellent sceneries of the ruined wasteland, a desert which contains unwelcoming rocky mountains and nearly abandoned cities. This eventually changes when Casshern starts entering more unusual places like land of lakes, seaside or rare gardens, filled blooming flowers.
Character design is neat and memorable, simply outstanding. This only outlines the concept of the action scenes, which are by the way, Madhouse notorious forte. Accompanied by the incredible soundtrack, which is soon to be discussed, Casshern Sins brings immense amount of action, violence and the brutality, excused by the fact, that we are dealing with the robots nor human beings. All of the presented colors blend in the work of perfection, disturbed only little by several repeated action scenes (for example - three robots penetrate Casshern's body). In any case, this could be just a matter of insufficient budget.
I know that it is mostly based on personal preference, but when someone starts to claim that Casshern voice actor did a hideous job, he should clearly seek his ear specialist or stop watching dubbed versions of anime. Everyone of the seiyu did one hell of a job. I'm not just talking about the following of a script. They obviously brought in more than that. They have given characters an emotion, which outlined the severity of pervasive death.
Mistaking opening theme song and ending(which are certainly very decent) for soundtrack I also consider as one of the grave mistakes when evaluating the sound of some particular anime. Kaoru Wada with his unforgettable themes created entire new dimension of the world of Casshern Sins. By overlapping of individual tones with dominant trumpets and bass with the tracks like Loss of Memory, Casshern or Dio and Leda emphasizes the atmosphere filled with ruin and despair. On the other side, with soundtracks like Ringo, Roamer, Peaceful or Human Nature brings back the lost sentiment and cheerful nature of never-ending days.
Portraying the characters is one of the most difficult tasks in the process of creating a story. To really maintain it, there are several rules which are needed to be applied. American author Kurt Vonnegut reminded an important requirement, that every character should want something in order to make the story consistent. Casshern Sins clearly succeeds again in creating versatile scale of outstanding and memorable characters. It is obvious that each of them is made from the scratch, disregarding the original pattern, totally different in terms of character affections.
This diverse palette offers many interesting encounters, even with the characters that are appearing only once in entire series (you also wish they appeared more). The recurring characters on the on the hand actuate reliably and more direct. The viewer is very early able to make an opinion about these characters like Lyuze, Luna, Ohji and Ringo, including our very protagonist, Casshern. On the contrary, viewer inspects also the fates of the charismatic antagonists like Dio, Leda, not excluding still undefeated villain Braiking Boss. I liked how the series maintained its original concept and didn't intrude with its own opinions - it gave a space to the viewers to make an opinion about the characters on their own. Every single one of the characters has its own voice and motivation, which smoothly guides them trough the story and causes executed intersections of each other's interests.
In the end Casshern Sins appears as the haunting example of neatness and elegance. By listing on many sites and databases I wasn't able to find any sufficient equivalent, which would give me the more prevailing feeling of death than this series. It was not only the overlapping of the specific motives like revenge, meaning of life, love, human nature or redemption which made an impact, the characters, music and overall atmosphere made it as well. Like I wrote before, this project seems like a living thing, it has its own soul. Maybe that is the reason why I was so influenced by it. I'm well aware, that most of the watchers were disappointed with the series and I can't blame single one of these people. The issue with this series it is almost urgent need to look between the lines. The themes presented trough the series may not be visible for the first time, even the second. To understand it better, the most necessary item is the time. Only the time can bring you the expected answers and the key knowledge with which you will surely approve, that Casshern Sins is an impressive masterpiece, which needs its deserved recognition.
The story was ok. I just was more disappointed at how long it took to get from point a to point b. It was a bit slow. I was also wondering where the gift went that was given by the kids that were very old? One episode shows these three kids give a gift which was believed to be the nano bots from the girl that would be able to heal those that needed healing... but then it never was used. Also, the end... What was with that? We hoped for some redemption for Cashern the whole show, then at the end... he's just going to embrace is death bringer title? dumb.
Drawings were great, Story left me disappointed though. ~L
Well for the story for Casshern Sins it would best to say that the show starts off on a good note and becomes gets fairly interesting, but then by the end you really wonder what it was all about. To go into more detail it is as I said it starts out to be very interesting with the creators laying out an apocalyptic wasteland with everthing falling apart including a majority of the worlds citizens. So for what reason is everything falling apart well that would be because the shows leading role Casshern killed the one called Luna and as a result the entire world is falling to ruin and of course our lonely hero is the only one unaffected by the ruin and can't remember anything about anything. Does it sound interesting? Sure. Would it have made for a rather good anime? Sure. But did it? No. So why might that this anime that should have had a good story fall short. Well that would be because despite starting out good the main plot is for the most part completely abandoned until the last couple of episodes and in it's place we are left with a story that for each episode we get a new focus that is for the most part completely forgotten come the next episode. Though of course that being said the one-shot episodes is actually where Casshern Sins is strongest in terms of story. I for the most part would have been a lot happier with the story if it had either gone completely with the one-shot episodes instead of trying to squeeze some kind of main plot into the overall story or if it had stayed with one larger plot instead of several one-shot episodes.
The animation is in fact where Casshern Sins does a rather fantastic job. The color schemes in addition to the superb animation create a visually pleasing sight combine that with some excellent lighting and the in the animation in Casshern Sins is extremely well done.
As for the sound it did well in some departments, but in other areas it fell short. The voice acting was not the best I had ever heard with the main character always seeming to lack any emotions whatsoever. Though I will admit that some of the supporting characters do fairly good jobs most of them tend to fall short. As for the background music it was overall very well done with the musical scores doing a excellent job in blending with the atmosphere that the series was trying to create.
The characters well it's pretty sad when the main character of a series is easily not the most interesting character of the group or even that well developed. Which is exactly what we get with Casshern and so in addition to the bad voice acting we also get a main character who for the most part doesn't undergo any real change from the start of the series to the end of the series. As for the main protaganist of the series Dio and Leda was pretty much as bad as Casshern. Nothing about them gets explained in the slightes bit. Though I will say that the most interesting character Lluyze, but it really was a shame that she only got one real episode dedicated to her.
Overall while I did find myself somewhat enjoying Casshern Sins. It might be best for someone to say only watch a couple episodes at a time instead of the whole thing in a short period of time because they could find themselves tiring of it rather quickly.