Not long ago we received the first and second parts of FUNimation's next high profile release, Casshern Sins. If you're familiar with the character then you most likely know of Tatsunoko Production's original series Neo Human Casshern from the 70's. Well, Sins is a reboot of sorts. The origin of the character, the story, and everything else about the show has been redone from the ground up. This left the door open for newcomers and fans of the original, but just how successful is it?
Casshern Sins is a 24 episode series that features a futuristic story with a bleak world filled with decaying robots and dying humans. There's little hope in the world and quite honestly it's greatly depressing to watch. It's a little boring as well. Short bursts of action did little to alleviate that dryness of the first twelve episodes featured in the Part 1 DVD release. Is the second half of the show any better?
In case you missed the review of the first half, Casshern Sins follows the adventures of a robot stricken with amnesia of sorts. Casshern walks the wastelands of the world blamed for causing a state known as the Ruin. Apparently he killed someone named Luna and that's what prompted the whole death and destruction thing. Other robots seem to think that if they eat Casshern they will obtain immortality, so they come out of the woodwork to challenge him. Casshern's adventure is bleak, lonely, and depressing as all hell. Towards the end of the first half, however, it became apparent that maybe Luna wasn't dead after all.
The second part of Casshern Sins picks up with the throngs of rusting robots choosing a new adventure. They refer to something known as the Healing and come to believe that if they visit Luna they will be saved from destruction. Thus a mob of robots makes the move and Casshern, Friender, and Lyuze tag along for the ride. Things become complicated, however, when they bump into an old acquaintance of Casshern's, Breaking Boss.
From this point on the plot thickens a little as some of Casshern's memories come back and the truth of past events is revealed. The action is upped significantly in this installment as well as some of Casshern's peers step forward to pay their respects. It's nice to see the bleakness of the first half of the show fades away a little with this installment, but it's not exactly sunshine and roses here either.
Ultimately Casshern Sins ends satisfactorily, but it's not quite as climactic as one might hope. Then again, I suppose that keeps in step with the rest of the show. It's low key for a while, kicks up the pace a bit, and steps back once the dust settles. If you don't mind a slower paced series that is brilliant in spurts then Casshern Sins is worth the trip. I'm not going to give it a high recommendation, but it's a solid enough experience to be recommended.
Casshern Sins is presented on Blu-ray with its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The show comes with an HD Native 1080p transfer with AVC encoding. Like I said earlier in this review the show stands out from an artistic point with Madhouse's production being exemplary. That sense of style and atmosphere really comes through in the Blu-ray transfer with sharp contrast and plenty of detail. The show bounces between moments of impeccable clarity and purposeful softness as Casshern wanders the wastelands. It's a hauntingly beautiful series and the Blu-ray transfer matches suit and keeps up with expectations.
For audio, Casshern Sins comes with Dolby TrueHD tracks for English (5.1) and Japanese (2.0). The quality of the sound for both is fantastic, though from an immersive standpoint the English is slightly better. The improvements are miniscule, yet noticeable. The dub quality for both tracks is good, however, and really neither voice cast trumps the other. Optional subtitles are included as well.
Clean animations, original commercials, and trailers are included here for bonus features. A "Mini-Concert" is included here as well, which features the theme song, "Azure Flowers", by Color Bottle performed on stage by the band.
Casshern Sins is a unique kind of show that keeps you guessing right up until the end. It's a bleak series with virtually no silver lining in the clouds, but it's one that is captivating in a way. The pacing is a little wonky at times and the story is stretched out beyond a reasonable limit, yet I'd still recommend it. There's enough quality here from the production and interesting bits in the show (especially in this second half) to make it worth checking out. It's a light recommendation, but a recommendation nonetheless.
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