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Casshern Sins Review

June 18, 2009

story 5/10

Casshern Sins screenshot

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.

animation 8/10

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.

sound 7/10

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.

characters 3.5/10

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 6/10

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.

Anime Info

In a dark future, the world is in ruin and everything is slowly crumbling away into dust. Humanity is almost extinct, while robots desperately seek out new parts to replace their rusting bodies. Their only hope for survival is to devour the one known as Casshern… or so they believe. Meanwhile, Casshern himself has lost all memory of his past. Why are these robots attacking him? Did he really kill the one known as Luna; the Sun that was called Moon? And why is he, alone, unaffected and undamaged by the ruin?

my anime:

not rated

comments

theSentinel avatar theSentinel
Dec 2, 2013

Interesting take.  Your initial statements made me think that I would agree with you on this review.  That is not to say that I completely disagree.  the flavor of the week style erked me, but other that Casshern himself I found the characters to be more deep and the endings to most of the characters was not bad.  Needless to say there WAS NO DEVELOPMENT FOR CASSHERN at all.  He was a blank slate that basically ended as a blank slate. 

Also, you said that it didnt live up to its initial promise.  The reason I disagree with you is a small point. . . . what initial promise?  It didnt seem immensly promising to me, and so I didnt have high expectations, this was not about to be the next great thing. 

as a remake though, it did a better job then Gatchaman Crowds did as a remake. :P

default avatar DeadReview
Jul 9, 2012

I do agree with most of the reveiw... Although I do not agree with the way you hammer the characters. If you actually watch the anime you would see that the creator trys to take you into the characters mind giving you his or her point of veiw and I personally watch the show mainly because the characters had interesting mental battles with in themselves as they matured. Over all I would say the characters were the best part of this anime and the plot is the only thing that caused this anime to fall.

honeyroad avatar honeyroad
May 13, 2011

Good review. I would give an even lower score, however. I really couldn't even make it past 4 episodes, because I could not take the unexplained reasons for fighting, and "OH GOD I WISH HE WOULD SHUT UP" running through my head ever few minutes.

Ranzell avatar Ranzell
Feb 28, 2010

I guess this is as good a place to ask as any, what constitutes a 10 in animation if not such an original art style coupled with fantastic animation and unique coloration? I'm not saying an 8 is bad, and I know opinion is the basis a review, but I feel like the mods reviews on this site never take a firm stance on one side of the spectrum or the other, even when its warranted just so people can't disagree.

Daev avatar Daev
Dec 21, 2009

Thanks for the helpfull reveiw, I think I'll check this out eventually but I'll hold it off for now, anyone know if there is any good post-apocalyptic anime at all?

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