Back in the 70's there was a show from Tatsunoko Productions called Neo Human Casshern. In fact you may have recognized the character of Casshern from Tatsunoko vs. Capcom for the Nintendo Wii. If not, well, Casshern is back in a revitalization of the franchise that essentially reboots things from the ground up.
Casshern Sins hit Japanese airwaves in 2008 with 24 episodes of robotic emo goodness. To be perfectly honest there are two things about Casshern that stand out from the very first episode to the last. For starters the anime is depressing as all hell, since its titular character walks through the wastelands of a world he helped destroy watching those around him die and rust.
The other thing that leaves an impact on the viewer is the stunning artwork and artistry that went into this show. Production studio Madhouse put an incredible sense of style into the series that makes it stand apart from the original concept and other shows on the market. It's hauntingly beautiful, captivating, and engrossing. But then again, that's just the tip of the iceberg. What's the show really about?
The world in Casshern Sins has seen better times for sure. Things are crumbling, humans are dying off, and the robots they created are rusting away just as quickly. When the show opens up things begin rather ambiguously with a stark white figure, Casshern, fighting a horde of desperate robots possessing zombie-like qualities. They are dying and fighting Casshern will take them to the grave sooner, but they are all doing their damndest to eat him. Apparently in this world the robots believe that if you eat Casshern you'll gain immortality. After all, he's the one who brought about the state of things known as the Ruin.
The show keeps things mysterious and vague for much of its run. Apparently at some point in the past Casshern killed Luna, who was the Sun named the Moon. Does that make sense? It didn't to me until a ways into the show. That left things kind of confusing during the early parts, but little bits and pieces are sprinkled along the way like breadcrumbs to keep you going. To make a long story short(er) Casshern is the reason everyone is dying, and he feels badly about it, but the fact that everyone blames him and he can't remember what happened is enough to drive him mad at points. Why is he one of the only ones not affected by the Ruin? What is this event in the past that everyone blames him for? These are all questions he comes up with on his journey and you're right along for the confusing ride.
To be perfectly honest the show isn't balanced well enough. In just about every episode Casshern walks the barren wastelands and comes across someone else he screwed over by killing Luna. He feels bad, there's a fight, and somewhere along the way we get the impression that there's some larger force at work. The somber traveling aspect of the series reminded me heavily of Kino's Journey, though in this case it's a little lonelier of a journey. The show also maintains psychedelic aspects, similar to Evangelion as well as Casshern comes to terms with his past and the world.
To be perfectly honest this first part of Casshern Sins doesn't necessarily knock it out of the park. The show is depressive and there's a heavy emo atmosphere as everyone walks around feeling sorry for themselves. The little bits and pieces of the overall plot that are revealed in these twelve episodes are interesting, but these and elements of action feel as though they are few and far between. So far this seems to be a show that's more style than substance, but it's interesting enough to warrant a recommendation.
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 and trailers are included here for bonus features. There is also a "Pre Air Event", which lasts about twelve minutes. The event was basically a Q&A session with prominent members of the cast and crew talking about the series and their experience on it.
Casshern Sins is a fascinating show in many ways. The tale of a robotic assassin being reborn after bringing the world to its end is captivating. The only problem is it's hampered by poor pacing, a depressive atmosphere, and nowhere near enough revelations to make the mystery feel satisfyingly resolved. Then again, this is only the first part and only so much has happened at this point. We'll revisit the latter half of the show soon and see if it pays off in the end! For now consider it recommended!