Summary: In a dark world of dust and rust, a strange being wanders across the land. A powerful killing machine that is not human, and yet not truly robot, he suffers from the very human trait of amnesia. Unable to remember even how things came to be as they are, he knows his own name only by virtue of the hordes of robots that seem to seek him out wherever he goes, crying for his blood, for his flesh, for the immunity to the death overtaking the world they believe only his life can grant. He does not even know if it is true: knows nothing of their claims that it was his hand that destroyed their world. He knows only the need to understand: who he is, why he is, and why the world is as he sees it. Only then can he give his own life. And so the being Casshern wanders the world, searching for his past – however sinful it may be.
Furuya Tohru as Casshern
Yajima Akiko as Luna
Cho as Ohji
Utsumi Kenji as Braiking Boss
Koyama Mami as Leda
Miyahara Nami as Lyuze
Morikawa Toshiyuki as Dio
Minaguchi Yuko as Ringo
Sci-fi, Psychological, Drama.
Not yet, but it has been licensed.
At the end of the day, no matter how good the action, how awesome the power exhibited, what makes a story for me is the characters, emotions, and themes. When powerful motivations and emotions are what drive the action and plot, that is when I am most happy. When the motivations and emotions are the plot…then if they are sufficiently powerful, that anime will stick in my mind as a kind of special great work rarely touched on. Haibane Renmei is one. Kino no Tabi another. And, right along with them, this anime: Casshern Sins. I find it impossible to compare this to any other: it simply stands alone. It had its flaws – or at least one near the end – and certainly its peers, but to describe it alone, all I can say is that most others are simply not in its weight class. This anime is the ultimate treatise on the philosophy of yin and yang, of finding light in darkness, and how the most precious things are those that can be broken. And there are very few out there I would care to match with it.
The characters are quite strong in their way, though it’s really the philosophies driving them all that make their roles powerful. Casshern is quiet and soft spoken, with a face that seems very vulnerable – until he is attacked. Then his collar closes about his face, his eyes change, and until the threat is gone, he suddenly resembled little more than a perfect, inhuman killer. And yet, when the foes are vanquished and his cover retracts, always the same face emerges again: someone who simply, desperately wants to know what he did, and how he can atone for it. Lyuze, a beautiful, tragic female robot who follows him, begins as simply the sanest and most rational of those who hate him: having already lost her sister to the Ruin he began, she hunts him, but finds no satisfaction in slaying him while ignorant. Accompanying him through his journeys, first at a distance, then as a companion proper, she adds a potent angle to the stories of very human emotion through which the message of the world of Casshern Sins is delivered. Ringo, a young, endearing child robot, is his purest hope of redemption: the first to pity him, the first always to tell him it’s all right. There are no true antagonists in this anime, but Dio and Leda serve something quite close: the only beings who seem able to match Casshern, they in fact appear to be the very same manner of being. They even know him. And yet they seem set to destroy him as well, for reasons perhaps far less acceptable than the desperate robots seeking to save their own lives. Everything in Casshern Sins is simple – and yet, none of it is simple at all.
The ‘plot’ is centered nearly entirely around Casshern’s quest to discover the truth, and his determination to do something about it. Everything, in the end, unravels from that. Who he was, what he is, why and how he came to be, what he did, why it had the effect it did, and what the rights and wrongs were about it all – this, spiced with some beautifully choreographed action sequences, makes the meat of Casshern Sins. The result is a fascinating, introspective, powerfully resonant journey the likes of which I have never been treated before to see, and very likely won’t again. In the end, there was only one thing – one niggling little mistake – that keeps it from being the most deserved perfect score show I’ve ever seen. If you think you’ve heard something like that refrain before, in a few of my other reviews rated four point five, it’s because, quite simply, it is very hard not to make some such mistake somewhere, and this is exactly what makes perfect scores rare. In this case, the mistake was in an ending more downbeat than it was mean to be. The final note was meant to be hopeful – perhaps even ideal. Unfortunately the revelation that made it so was given too little time, and in the end, it was the feelings of the scenes before, far less satisfying as an ending note, that dominated. Two minutes – no, just thirty seconds – more time spent on those last scenes, and this would go down in my book as a stunningly perfect anime. And while it may have failed that, it still occupies a golden niche in my list of all time special watches. I heartily recommend this to anyone.
Final Rating: 4.5/5
This review is brought to you by Z.N. Singer
Information such as cast and airtime are taken from the ANN encyclopedia. Everything else is and always will be the creation of the author.
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