When we last left
Casshern Sins, the main story was developing an eventual showdown
between Casshern and the two robots created alongside him, Dio and Leda, who want
to rule the world. While the series was one of the most amazing looking
series I have ever seen, unfortunately, the story was a meandering, unfocused, melodramatic stroll
through a dying robot-ruled world. The characters spent an excessive amount of time
thinking about how much they hate life, which made for a story that was itself,
easy to hate. The second half of Casshern Sins stays much more focused on the main
story. While it still dabbles in the fluffy nonsense and tangents that marred the
first half, this final set of episodes comes much closer to achieving the ambitious
goals of its creators.
In this set, Casshern learns that Luna may not be dead after all. He decides that
it is now his duty to find Luna and protect those who are dying from the Ruin. Lyuze,
along with Friender, join Casshern's wanderings. After happening upon Casshern in
practically every episode, Ringo and Ohji finally make it official and join Casshern's
journey to find Luna.
Meanwhile, the former robot dictator of the world, Braiking Boss makes his appearance
early in this set. He is a true wildcard character who just watches the events unfold
from afar. Braiking Boss claims to have no stake in the outcome, but can a man who
once ruled the world with a robot army really stay out of the game or does he have
his own agenda? Casshern's gang uncovers Luna's birthplace and learns something
about Luna, which Ohji must examine further. He leaves Ringo in the care of Casshern
and Lyuze and wants them to take her to Luna. From here, the gang makes their journey
to find Luna, hoping that she is the healing goddess that they believe she is.
Casshern also must eventually face-off against Dio and Leda. After being built up
as the primary enemy and someone who wants to rule the world, Dio is really a pushover.
Leda uses Dio as a figurehead to do her bidding, constantly planting ideas in his
head or just flat out telling him what to do. The one thing she cannot overcome,
however, is Dio's single-minded obsession with defeating Casshern. Throughout his
entire existence, Casshern has always been one step ahead. In their battles, he
has come up just short every time. In order rule the world, Dio feels that he must
first surpass Casshern. Braiking Boss even pulls Dio's strings. In one episode,
he taunts a beaten and bloodied Dio. He knows Dio has an inferiority complex to
Casshern and uses that to get him to jump back into a fight. Dio is merely a puppet.
A powerful puppet, but a puppet nonetheless. Leda is the true threat and these final
episodes are her coming out party of sorts.
The first set of Casshern Sins exhibited poor pacing by building the story to a
crescendo and then ignoring it for multiple episodes. While still agonizingly slow at
times, the second half of Casshern Sins mostly stays on course. The first five episodes
are especially indicative of the true potential of this series. Unfortunately, there
are a couple of episodes in the middle of this collection that dwell on Lyuze's
obvious internal conflict, which could have been condensed. While Casshern finds
purpose in his existence and, for the most part, stops staring at the desolation
and hating himself, Lyuze falls into her own fit of endless self-loathing. She despises
that she has fallen in love with the man who killed her sister and Luna. Someone
in this story could make some serious coin if they created anti-depression drugs
Once Lyuze fights through that complication, she then agonizes over her inevitable
demise to the ruin. Casshern, the former suicidal killing machine who now has a
purpose in life, even demonstrates some character growth by playing the role of
Lyuze's counselor, shoulder to cry on, and stabbing dummy--Lyuze gets a little violent
when she's depressed. The two full episodes devoted to Lyuze's inner demons are
slow and unnecessary, but at least they are relevant and do not involve throwaway
characters that build bell towers or paint cities.
Casshern Sins wants to be great. It shoots for the stars with its
gorgeous animation, poetic dialogue, and symbolic imagery. While the second half is far
superior to the first, it still falls short of greatness. Regardless, a good series
is always worth watching. The story does finally come around in this collection
and the conclusion has the nice, circular irony that will set your mind pondering.
Audio: I only listened to the English 5.1 Dolby Digital track, but there is also
a Japanese 2.0 track for all the subtitle fans. When there's not an epic battle
between Casshern and some army of robots, the dialogue is slow and quiet. The action
scenes exhibit a fair amount of directionality among all five speakers and there
are some ambient effects throughout the series. I enjoyed the English dub and have
no complaints about the quality. There were plenty of opportunities where a bad
voice actor could ruin the experience, especially with the main cast of Casshern,
Ringo, and Lyuze, but they are all well voiced in this series.
Video: Casshern Sins is a visual treat to behold. The video is presented in 1.78:1
anamorphic widescreen. I did not see any hint of blocking, line noise or any other
artifacts. The color scheme is intentionally sullen and bland. It's a show about
a dying world. Even with that color palette limitation, this is one
of the most incredible looking television-based anime series ever. Once again, this
show is well worth the price of admission just to admire the stylized art.
One of the few complaints I have concerns several fight scenes where the camera
pulls away from the action and just shows a bunch of slashes and a cloud of dust.
The idea is that the combatants are moving too fast for the viewer to focus on the
detailed action. It's a cop out. I have seen this technique in countless other shows
and it always comes across as a cop out. Show us the fight!
Extras: The special features include textless opening and closing credits and trailers.
Also included is a short music video featuring a live performance by Color Band
of "Azure Flowers," the opening theme song for the series.
Final Thoughts: Casshern Sins Part 2 is a vast improvement over the first set. Pacing
problems still plague the series until the bitter end, but at the very least, the
tangents were minimized in these episodes. In the review of the first set, I said
that the series could be cut in half by removing all the fluff and I still stand
by that statement. The characters spend a ridiculous amount of time staring at water,
dreaming, posing, and overstating their obvious internal conflicts in melodramatic
"woe is me" scenes. Beyond that, however, this series is simply a delight to look
at and a good story actually manages to shine through all the murky drama. If you
watched the first set and found some enjoyment out of it, then it is definitely
worthwhile to see Casshern Sins through to the end. Recommended.