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Casshan - Robot Hunter
Released earlier this year in a dub only version, ADV Films has decided to re-release Casshan, Robot Hunter as a special edition, this time including the original soundtrack along with the English dub. Originally airing as a TV series in the 70's, this updated version was made in 1993 as a four part OVA (Original Video Animation.)
In the not too distant future, humanity has been enslaved by robots. Originally programmed to protect the earth's environment, the artificial intelligence Black King decided the easiest way to do that is to get rid of the biggest threat to the environment, man. He created an army of super robots, Neoroids, who conquered the humans. Now, three years later, Black King seems to be unstoppable. There is only one thing the robots are worried about. There is a rumor of a man who can destroy a robot with his bare hands, a relentless fighter who is called Casshan.
Luna Kazuki is a young girl trying to sneak past the robots on her way to a rendezvous point. Her dead father entrusted her with a gun he invented that is effective against the robots. She's trying to get the prototype into the hands of the resistance so that they can duplicate it and equip an army to fight the Neoroids. She is also looking for her lost boyfriend, Tetsuya Azuma.
After being captured during a failed revolt, Luna is scheduled to be publicly executed. When the time comes for her death, quess who shows up. None other than Casshan. He rescues Luna, but she discovers that Casshan is really her boyfriend, Tetsuya. He has placed his mind in a robot body his father designed to fight the robots, but it is costing him his humanity. Can Casshan and Luna save all of mankind?
Casshan was an average show. Nothing great, but entertaining for what it is. There are plenty of action, and enough plot so that the fights don't get monotonous. The main problem I had was that there were a lot of things that were a little silly. Luna travels in a helmet and heavy coat at the beginning of the first episode, but takes them off about half way through and spend the rest of the series fighting robots in a skimpy revealing outfit. There is a seen where the Black King is sleeping in bed. He's a robot, why does he sleep? Another thing that I thought was juvenile: Casshan fights with a robot dog that can breath fire and turn into a plane. In an anime aimed at a younger audience, I wouldn't mind, but this is not a juvenile show. It's rated 15 and up. There are people killed on screen and a fair amount of blood.
The animation is good, though a little dated. The animation during the fight scenes is a little worse than the rest of the show. They are done in an early style with Casshan jumping out of frame a lot. The scenes with less action look very good though. The costume designs belay the show's 70's origin. Casshan's in an all white jump suit and Luna in the aforementioned skimpy outfit that would look appropriate at on a lady of the evening.
Since this OVA is based on a 35 episode TV series, but only has four shows to tell the story, things move rather quickly. I haven't seen the original, so I can't comment on how much was removed or how accurate the condensation is. The story is interesting enough that I wouldn't mind seeing the TV show, I can see where this would be a much better show if they had a little more time to flesh out the characters.
Note of Warning: I could not find any mention of this disc being a special edition on the packaging itself. The cover is different than the original release, but there doesn't seem to be any text on the front differentiate the two releases. Be sure to look at the audio tracks listed on the back cover to insure you purchase the right version. Also, many online stores, including Amazon, are listing this as Casshan Volume 2. This is incorrect.
I watched half of this in the original Japanese, and half with the English track. Both sound tracks are similar in quality. I usually prefer the original language tracks, English dubs being notoriously bad, but the dub on this disc was pretty good. The voices of the robots sounded more sinister in English since they were altered electronically. None of the characters in the parts that I watched had phony southern accents, something that occurs much too frequently and always sounds horrible.
Both tracks were in stereo, but not a lot of use was made of the soundstage. There was some directionality, especially in the closing song, but it wasn't used as much as they could have. The track was not as dynamic as I was expecting from a show that was made in the '90's. The explosions lacked impact, as did most of the fighting scenes. Other than that, the audio quality was fine.
For a ten year old show, this program looks very good. The colors are bright and the lines are sharp for the most part. Lines in the background are slightly blurry, but only slightly. There is some aliasing, shimmering of diagonal lines, during camera pans but only to a small extent. The video is in 1.33:1 format.
Listed as a Special Edition on many sites, there isn't a lot of extras to make it special. The only extras are trailers for other ADV releases: Final Fantasy Unlimited, Legend of the Mystic Ninja, Noir, King of Bandit Jing, Sakura Wars TV, and Zaion.
While this is a good DVD it's not great. The plot is given in large chunks rather than spread out, simply because they didn't have enough time for a more leisurely telling. Even so, the story is good, if slightly predictable. The video is nice and clean and it sounds pretty good. A solid, if unexceptional, title. Recommended.